Friday’s AcceleratedGFX.com 315 at Ace Speedway was anything but a procedural affair for the CARS Tour.
With a guaranteed spot in next Wednesday’s race at North Wilkesboro Speedway on the line for the Late Model Stock Car division, the drivers held back nothing when it came to making aggressive moves in a race primarily dominated by track position.
Despite the intensity prevalent throughout the evening, Carson Kvapil maintained his efficiency in the LMSC Tour with another stellar performance, all while Connor Zilisch powered to his first career PLM Tour win after narrowly missing out on the milestone at Hickory Motor Speedway just a couple of weeks earlier.
Carson Kvapil stays unbeatable
No driver in the history of the CARS LMSC Tour had ever won three straight races prior to Friday’s AcceleratedGFX.com 315.
Carson Kvapil added that accomplishment to his growing resume by leading every single lap in the LMSC Tour feature from the pole, continuing a streak of dominance for him and JR Motorsports that dates to their championship season in 2022.
“When your car is just that good, and your guys give you something to work with, it makes everything easier and a lot more fun,” Kvapil said. “Those guys don’t need to be here every weekend taking time away from their families, but for them to put this team first is really awesome.”
On a perfect night that started with Kvapil putting up a blistering time of 15.331 on his first qualifying lap, the only issue he endured was poor short run speed.
The long run performance of Kvapil’s No. 8 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet more than compensated for his minor restart issues. Once he cleared his closest competition of Ryan Millington and Connor Hall on restarts, Kvapil ran his own, comfortable pace while the rest of field battled to determine who would finish second.
While Kvapil has seen tremendous improvement in himself since joining JR Motorsports back in 2021, he credits that progress to everyone at JR Motorsports and is confident the determination of everyone involved with the Late Model Stock program will yield more victories and another title at the end of the year.
“This is a whole team effort,” Kvapil said. “There’s not one thing that wins a race. It’s the car, the crew chief, the driver and all the crew guys. Everything matters and everything has to be in line. There’s no slack with these guys and we all work together very well.”
Ryan Millington comes one spot short of second win
As Kvapil cruised to his third straight win on the 2023 season, Ryan Millington ultimately prevailed over Connor Hall to take second in the 125-lap CARS LMSC Tour feature.
With Ace Speedway being the site of his lone LMSC Tour victory back in 2020, Millington had plenty of optimism heading into the AcceleratedGFX.com 315 and felt confident about challenging Kvapil for the victory if circumstances had played out differently.
“We had a pretty good car,” Millington said. “It would have been interesting if I got around Connor [Hall] a little bit earlier before Carson [Kvapil] took off. I got into second trying to hold on for a late race caution, but overall it was a good points night for us and we have something solid going into North Wilkesboro.”
A runner-up finish was Millington’s best performance in the LMSC Tour since placing fifth in the season-opener at Southern National Motorsports Park.
Millington has never run more than three races in a LMSC Tour season since first joining the series back in 2018. Although his operation lacks the resources of teams like JR Motorsports and Chad Bryant Racing, Millington is happy with his program’s current progress and hopes to keep improving as 2023 progresses.
North Wilkesboro Speedway will provide Millington the next opportunity to keep his season going on the right trajectory. Having won two track championships at Hickory, Millington plans to utilize a similar strategy to those races when it comes to tackling North Wilkesboro’s abrasive surface.
“We have to work on long run speed [at North Wilkesboro],” Millington said. “That place is hard on tires, so we’ll probably go to Hickory, make a couple of long runs, play around as much as we can and try to build a notebook.”
Connor Zilisch bounces back from Hickory heartbreak
The one driver who ended up spoiling a perfect weekend for the Kvapil family at Ace Speedway was Connor Zilisch.
After starting in the fourth position, Zilisch patiently managed his brakes during the opening stages of the CARS PLM Tour feature before chasing down and overtaking Caden Kvapil for the lead with 25 laps remaining to earn his first career victory.
“It’s awesome to add my name to a great list of drivers,” Zilisch said. “I couldn’t have done this without Rackley W.A.R.. They brought me a bad fast car and made me look like a really good driver. Even if that’s true, they made me look better than I really might be, so I’m very appreciative of everything they’ve done for me.”
Zilisch wanted nothing more than to give Rackley W.A.R. a PLM Tour victory following a disappointing conclusion to their debut race together at Hickory Motor Speedway.
The second half of Hickory’s PLM Tour feature saw Zilisch aggressively work his way through the field after spinning off the front bumper of Isabella Robusto while holding the lead. Zilisch managed to mix it up with Mike Hopkins and Brent Crews for the win on a green-white-checkered, but ultimately had to settle for third.
All Zilisch had to do on Friday evening was wait for the younger Kvapil to use up his brakes and pounce at the first opportunity. Zilisch does not anticipate winning the PLM Tour feature at North Wilkesboro Speedway to come as easy, but is optimistic the consistency of Rackley W.A.R.’s Pro Late Model program will give him an advantage over the stacked field.
“[North Wilkesboro] is going to be tough because there’s going to be a lot of cars there,” Zilisch said. “I’ve got a lot of confidence in this team and we’ve got some momentum going into the next one. We have to keep doing what we’re doing by bringing fast cars to the track so we’re there to compete.”
With three straight wins under his belt, the elder Kvapil is now turning his attention towards defending his victory at one of the southeast’s most cherished tracks in North Wilkesboro.
Kvapil has been anticipating the CARS Tour’s return to the historic facility since the date was first announced. He also has every reason to believe that his second trip to North Wilkesboro as a driver will play out in near identical fashion to his dominant win there in 2022.
“I’m really excited [about North Wilkesboro],” Kvapil said. “We had a really great car there last year and it felt just as good as the car we had [at Ace]. We could cruise and set the pace where I wanted it to be. It’d be pretty cool if we could get another win at North Wilkesboro.”
Kvapil and the rest of the CARS Tour field will be joined by special guests like Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kevin Harvick, Chase Briscoe and others for a full day of racing on May 17 at North Wilkesboro, which will be broadcasted live on FloRacing.
For more information on the CARS Late Model Stock Tour and the CARS Pro Late Model Tour, visit www.carsracingtour.com. Be sure to stay active and social with the tour by liking “CARS Tour” on Facebook, following @CARSTour on Twitter and scrolling through photos on Instagram cars_tour.
Additional series information can be obtained by calling the CARS Tour series office, located in
Mooresville, NC, at 704.662.9212.
- 8 Carson Kvapil
- 15 Ryan Millington
- 77 Connor Hall
- 03 Brenden Queen
- 6 Bobby McCarty
- 43 William Sawalich
- 24 Mason Diaz
- 10 Kaden Honeycutt
- 99 Layne Riggs
- 2 Brandon Pierce
- 16 Chad McCumbee
- 57 Connor Zilisch
- 08 Deac McCaskill
- 81 Mini Tyrrell
- 44 Conner Jones
- 32 Zack Miracle
- 97A Dexter Canipe Jr.
- 22 Landon Huffman
- 04 Ronnie Bassett Jr. -1
- 14 Dylan Ward -1
- 42 Carson Brown -1
- 98 Garrett Smithley -1
- 5B Bryant Barnhill -1
- 0 Landon Pembelton – OUT
- 2W Ryan Wilson – OUT
- 8B Chase Burrow – OUT
- 95 Jacob Heafner – OUT
- 55 Trevor Ward – OUT
- 25 Connor Zilisch
- 96 Caden Kvapil
- 81 Katie Hettinger
- 88 T.J. DeCaire
- 28 Brent Crews
- 15H Mike Hopkins
- 15 Brett Suggs
- 26 Dawson Sutton -1
- 07 Clint King -1
- 27 Lee Tissot -1
- 77 Logan Jones -1
- 5 Zac Fowler -1
- 44 Justin Whitaker -1
- 13 Austin MacDonald -1
- 8 Rusty Skewes -1
- 6 George Phillips -1
- 9 Ashton Higgins – OUT
- 03 Kyle Campbell – OUT
- 43 Nick Loden – OUT
- 7 Tristan McKee – OUT
- 49M Luke Morey – OUT
- 15B Luke Baldwin – OUT
- 48 Jeff Batten – OUT
- 43H Joshua Horniman – OUT