The 2022 season for the Solid Rock Carriers CARS Tour could best be summarized as one dominated by progress and parity.
While William Sawalich took the newly formed Pro Late Model division by storm with six victories in 12 starts, 10 different drivers found their way to victory lane in the LMSC Tour across a diverse schedule that included a race at the historic North Wilkesboro Speedway on Aug. 31.
Despite so many winners, nobody in the LMSC Tour could match the pace of Carson Kvapil as he cruised to a championship with four victories, all while Super Late Model standout Luke Fenhaus took the PLM Tour crown without recording a single win.
A perfect LMSC Tour season for Carson Kvapil, JR Motorsports concludes
High expectations were placed upon Carson Kvapil for 2022 as he took over the JR Motorsports Late Model Stock that Josh Berry piloted to victory lane a record-setting 22 times in the series.
Kvapil had no issues living up to the gold standard previously established by JR Motorsports. After opening the year by claiming a $30,000 race-winning paycheck in the Old North State Nationals at Caraway Speedway, Kvapil maintained a healthy advantage over his competition to become the second driver to claim a title in two CARS Tour divisions alongside Jared Fryar.
Although he was disappointed that his second trip to Caraway on Saturday did not result in his fifth win of 2022, Kvapil departed the track knowing that he accomplished everything he set out to do when he first joined JR Motorsports near the end of the 2021 season, which included giving his team the LMSC Tour owner’s championship.
“We had a pretty good run, but I thought we had a race-winning car today,” Kvapil said. “I was saving early behind [Trevor Ward], but it seemed like we had no grip after some late cautions. All in all, we had a pretty good year, and I can’t thank everyone at JR Motorsports enough. We were just off a little bit today.”
Berry was one of the primary people Kvapil relied on as he grew accustomed to his new environment in the LMSC Tour.
The qualities Berry taught Kvapil about car control, setups and patience easily translated over to the track. Aside from serving a one-race suspension at Ace Speedway near the end of the year, the only time Kvapil finished outside the Top 10 in the LMSC Tour this season came at Dominion Raceway, where he placed two laps behind the leader in 15th.
Kvapil admitted he was unsure that kind of efficiency would even be possible for him despite driving a JR Motorsports Late Model Stock. Once he claimed his season-opening victory in the Old North State Nationals, Kvapil felt more composed and was determined to build off that momentum.
“Going into this year, I was super nervous about running good,” Kvapil said. “Kicking off the year by winning [the Old North State Nationals] was huge and served as a confidence booster for the entire team. That let us know we could go out there and win, so we went out there, got us three more and brought home the championship.”
With two CARS Tour championships on his resume, Kvapil has every reason to believe he can bring home another one in 2023.
Kvapil will have additional support next year in the form of a full-season sponsorship from Bass Pro Shops. Although he does not anticipate anything coming easy for him in his quest for another title, Kvapil is confident he can continue living up to the standards of excellence that have been synonymous with success at JR Motorsports.
“Now that we know we can be champions, there’s so much confidence heading into next season,” Kvapil said. “Hopefully everything goes smoothly like they did this year, and we get us another title.”
Consistency guides Luke Fenhaus to PLM Tour title
The final race of the 2022 PLM Tour season was far from a memorable one for Luke Fenhaus, who nursed an ill-handling car to a sixth-place finish.
Despite the struggles, Fenhaus had nothing to worry about regarding the series championship. With Caden Kvapil facing a 19-point deficit in a 13-car field on Saturday afternoon, all Fenhaus had to do was take the green flag to add a PLM Tour title to his resume.
Fenhaus dealt with plenty of adversity throughout the year, but credited Highlands Motorsports for providing great cars to compete with in each event.
“It feels pretty cool to be the first champion in [the PLM Tour],” Fenhaus said. “We struggled throughout the season and had our good and bad times, but that’s how racing goes. I had to stay consistent, be smooth and just be there at the end.”
Fenhaus arrived in the PLM Tour coming off the best season of his young career, as he won the prestigious Slinger Nationals in 2021 before finishing second against auto racing legends in Tony Stewart, Bobby Labonte, Helio Castroneves, and others at Slinger Speedway in the Superstar Racing Experience.
Transitioning into Pro Late Models with Highlands Motorsports was an arduous process for Fenhaus. Along with getting used to the equipment, Fenhaus also had to build chemistry with everyone at Highlands Motorsports so that he could find a setup that suited his driving style.
The consistency Fenhaus ended up establishing in the Pro Late Model Tour’s inaugural campaign was not quite enough for him to find victory lane. Fenhaus’ closest opportunity came at Franklin County Speedway on May 21, where he ended up losing in a photo finish to Ryan Moore.
While Fenhaus was disappointed to go winless on the year, he takes pride in knowing that all of the relentless effort he and Highlands Motorsports poured into their Pro Late Model program paid off with a title.
“It was a struggle to find a balance for me so we could get on a good hot streak,” Fenhaus said. “We needed a win to really find that momentum, but we regrouped while trying to reach that goal and it helped us stick together throughout the year, so I’m really happy we were able to finish it off.”
Despite proving that he could adapt to the Pro Late Model discipline, Fenhaus is planning to explicitly focus on Super Late Models in 2023 but did not rule out potentially competing in either CARS Tour division.
Fenhaus considers himself grateful to have a chance at competing in a competitive Pro Late Model operation and hopes to use the knowledge obtained from his time at Highlands Motorsports to keep improving as a driver going forward.
“Coming down and racing in the South is tough for sure,” Fenhaus said. “To build this base with a different team and setup feels good. Grabbing this championship with [Highlands Motorsports] is huge and I plan to keep pushing along in this direction, which I hope includes NASCAR.”
Setzer Racing Development caps off stellar 2022 with Brandon behind the wheel
With William Sawalich sidelined from an injury, Brandon Setzer had a chance to climb back into his own No. 6 Ford for the PLM Tour season finale at Caraway.
Setzer’s third place finish closed out an incredible year for Setzer Racing Development that saw Sawalich win half the races on the PLM Tour schedule. While Setzer wanted to earn his first CARS Tour victory since 2018, he was thrilled to celebrate the PLM Tour owner’s championship with the entire team.
“It’d be a little nicer if we were celebrating this in victory lane, but that’s part of it,” Setzer said. “With me being a little bit rusty, I wasn’t quite 100 percent, but it was fun to mix it up for the win. William has carried this team and we work really well together, so this year was a lot of fun.”
Setzer added that bringing in Sawalich has allowed the team to make tremendous strides both on and off the track.
The key factor that Setzer believes separates Sawalich from other developmental prospects is how astutely he listens to the feedback provided and uses that information to make himself much stronger on track regardless of the car he is racing.
As Sawalich prepares to move up the developmental ladder in 2022, Setzer will always be grateful for everything he accomplished with the program and hopes the efficiency displayed in 2022 will carry over into the next season with a driver they plan to announce later.
“This championship is going to be huge for the next person who ends up driving this car,” Setzer said. “They’re going to have a lot of confidence in our cars and our ability to teach them how to win races, so there’s plenty of confidence all the way around.”
Jared Fryar, Austin MacDonald claim LMSC, PLM victories at Caraway
There was plenty of excitement on track as both divisions wrapped up their seasons in the North-South Shootout at Caraway.
Veteran Jared Fryar earned his first LMSC Tour victory since 2020 at Franklin County Speedway after late contact with polesitter Trevor Ward, while Canadian rookie Austin MacDonald ended up tallying his inaugural PLM Tour win.
For Fryar, he cherishes every opportunity to compete at Caraway and was ecstatic to add an LMSC Tour victory at the track following a year that he believes was marred by inconsistency at times.
“I feel like I’m on top of the world right now,” Fryar said. “It’s always super special to win a race [at Caraway]. In the middle of the year, we were worried about not running good, but this car was on the money [Saturday] and I can’t thank my guys enough.”
Fryar said the contact between him and Ward came down to a mistake from the latter.
While racing side-by-side for the lead, Fryar believed Ward tried pinching him down going into Turn 1, which resulted in Ward being turned sideways. Fryar was disappointed to see their battle unfold in that matter, but was happy that he avoided damage and brought home his third LMSC Tour victory.
The fight for the win in the PLM Tour also ended up being decided by late contact between MacDonald and Caden Kvapil.
As the laps dwindled, MacDonald gradually chipped away at the advantage held by Kvapil since the start of the feature before working his way to the back bumper. A slower car gave MacDonald the opening he needed to nudge Kvapil out of the way with two laps remaining, allowing him to hold on for the victory.
MacDonald had finished third three times in the PLM Tour prior to taking the green flag in the North-South Shootout. He was hoping to break through for a win before 2022 concluded and hopes the triumph gives him some much-needed momentum heading into the offseason.
“The whole crew put a lot of work into this car,” MacDonald said. “My spotter coached me through those last few laps, and I was glad that we finally got it done. We’re getting better as a team, and I have to thank everyone that makes this possible.”
The 2022 CARS Tour season will formally wrap up with the end-of-year banquet, which is set to take place on Jan. 21 in Mooresville.
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.
- 14 Jared Fryar
- 77 Connor Hall
- 8 Carson Kvapil
- 91 Ryan Wilson
- 22 Bobby McCarty
- 4D Kyle Dudley
- 95 Jacob Heafner
- 7 Dylan Ward
- 8B Chase Burrow
- 2 Brandon Pierce
- 44 Trey Crews
- 1 Andrew Grady
- 77W Trevor Ward
- 2R Braden Rogers
- 5 Carter Langley
- 32 Zack Miracle – OUT
- 55 Isabella Robusto – OUT
- 16B Kade Brown – OUT
- 16 Chad McCumbee – OUT
- 12 Kaden Honeycutt – OUT
- 18 Jason York – OUT
- 77G Tyler Gregory – OUT
- 24 Mason Diaz – OUT
- 4 Hayden Swank – OUT
- 13 Austin MacDonald
- 35 Caden Kvapil
- 6 Brandon Setzer
- 29C Matt Caprara
- 1 Kody King
- 96 Luke Fenhaus
- 49M Luke Morey
- 03 Kyle Campbell
- 8 Rusty Skewes -1
- 28 Nate Gregg -1
- 64 Joe Mancuso – OUT
- 77 Logan Jones – OUT
- 27 Lee Tissot – OUT