On Saturday afternoon at South Boston Speedway, Carson Kvapil further validated JR Motorsports’ decision to put him in their storied Late Model Stock program.
By winning his fourth race of the 2022 season in the Solid Rock Carriers CARS Late Model Stock Car Tour, Kvapil also clinched the series championship in his rookie season, joining an elite group of drivers that includes the man who previously drove the No. 8 Chevy in all-time wins leader Josh Berry.
Kvapil was not the only drive to continue an efficient season at South Boston, as William Sawalich nabbed his sixth victory in the CARS Pro Late Model Tour this year after taking advantage of a late crash between Ryan Moore and Brent Crews.
A year of efficiency continues for Carson Kvapil
High expectations were placed upon Carson Kvapil the moment he climbed into a JR Motorsports car for the first time.
Carrying on the efficiency left behind by Berry in 2022 proved to be an arduous process for everyone involved with JR Motorsports Late Model Stock program, which is why winning a CARS LMSC Tour championship was equal parts rewarding and cathartic for Kvapil.
“I’m really happy for all these guys,” Kvapil said. “They’ve had to adapt to me driving the car instead of Josh. We’ve both had to change a little bit, but we’ve all worked very hard trying to figure each other out, so it’s really cool we can come together and bring home a championship in our first year.”
With a comfortable 42-point advantage over Connor Hall entering the Commonwealth 225 at South Boston, Kvapil was more focused on finding his way back to victory lane after serving a one-race suspension at Ace Speedway on Oct. 7.
Kvapil initially was not even a factor for the win. He struggled to maintain solid track position inside the Top 10 while Landon Pembelton and NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series champion Layne Riggs set the pace at the front of the field.
A late caution led to an intense battle for the win between Riggs and Pembelton with Kvapil following closely behind in third. As the two continued to race each other aggressively, Kvapil saw the opening he needed to drive by both and cruise to another victory.
“[Pembelton and Riggs] were slowing each other down,” Kvapil said. “Even though the bottom in [Turns] 3 and 4 was not the preferred groove, I was able to roll there and get position on them. I basically inserted myself into the battle and they had to give me room.”
Layne Riggs, Landon Pembelton express frustration over late contact
The tension that existed between Layne Riggs and Landon Pembelton during the fight for the Weekly Series crown was elevated at South Boston on Saturday.
Late contact ended up relegating Riggs and Pembelton to second and third respectively. Having raced Pembelton and his car owner Peyton Sellers all year long, Riggs was left frustrated over the circumstances that he believes have been an ongoing theme between the two organizations this season.
“I raced [Landon] clean the entire time,” Riggs said. “He had the faster car on the short runs, and I had to use my tires up to pass him clean. On the restart, Landon decided that he didn’t want to race and chose to wreck us instead. That’s pretty much the MO of [Sellers Racing Inc.].”
The final green flag run of the afternoon saw Pembelton aggressively hound the back bumper of Riggs before moving him in Turn 2. Once Riggs reached Pembelton a few laps later, he repaid the favor by nudging him out of the way to claim second for himself.
Pembelton said he did everything possible to have a clean fight for the win but was left frustrated over how Riggs approached the final laps. He added that Riggs needed to show more maturity and was not going to tolerate being roughed up for a victory.
“[Layne] was brake-checking me off the corner,” Pembelton said. “He hit me every chance he got during the last three weeks of the national championship. I decided it was time to give him a little bit of payback and then he tried to destroy me, but it is what it is. If you’re going to race in the Truck Series, you have to be more professional.”
Riggs shared Pembelton’s feelings of mutual disrespect towards him, admitting that wrecking him in Turn 3 was an option that crossed his mind but instead chose to go with a bump as a show of restraint and maturity.
There are no plans for Riggs to talk with Pembelton or Sellers over what happened at South Boston and the fight for the Weekly Series title. Rather than linger on the past, Riggs is choosing to embrace his promising future in the sport while reminding himself of everything he has learned during his time with the CARS Tour.
“Everybody knows we had the race-winning car and we got booted out of the way for it,” Riggs said. “The CARS Tour taught me how the race before I went off to race some knuckleheads this year, but we ended up beating them. I’m glad I’ve built my racing career the way I have and hopefully I can go on and never look back.”
Fortunes favor William Sawalich in sixth PLM Tour win of 2022
Most of the 2022 CARS PLM Tour season has seen William Sawalich earn one stress-free victory after another.
The Commonwealth 225 was a different story for Sawalich. Rather than dominating the race, Sawalich had to patiently work his way back towards the front following early contact before ultimately adding another triumph to his growing resume.
“I have to thank [Dennis and Brandon Setzer] for giving me another great car,” Sawalich said. “We got shuffled back on that one restart and got loose under [Ryan Moore], but we rebounded well and took home a checkered flag.”
Sawalich said what happened between him and Moore was simply a racing incident. He knew he could not linger on the situation for long and had to keep knocking off quick lap times so he could chase down Moore and Crews.
The intense fight between the leaders ended with Crews getting turned into the inside the wall on the frontstretch while Moore ended up getting sent into the outside retaining wall. Sawalich saw the crash happen right in front of him, but he inherited the race lead after narrowly avoiding both cars.
While the journey to victory lane was a little more stressful for him, Sawalich never doubted in the ability of himself or the car to excel and is confident that one more celebration is in store for his team at the North-South Shootout at Caraway Speedway on Nov. 5.
“This has been such a great year,” Sawalich said. “I’m looking at Caraway right now, so hopefully we can get another checkered flag there. That wasn’t one of our best races earlier this year, but I know the Setzers are going to bring me another great car. We just need to get it a little looser on the long run.”
For Kvapil, the idea of being a LMSC Tour champion had not yet completely set in when he celebrated in victory lane at South Boston.
Despite this, the 19-year-old Mooresville, North Carolina native took pride over everything that transpired for him to claim such a notable accomplishment at a young age and credited everyone at JR Motorsports for molding him into championship-caliber driver he is today.
Kvapil will formally be crowned the LMSC Tour champion at Caraway in two weeks but is currently looking forward to his remaining races on the 2022 calendar so he can keep building upon JR Motorsports’ stellar legacy in Late Model Stock competition.
“This is huge and shows that we can work together as a team like Josh [Berry] did with JR Motorsports for so long,” Kvapil said. “To put together a championship season just gives us a whole bunch of confidence for all of us going into our next few races and for next year as well.”
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
- 99 Layne Riggs
- 0 Landon Pembelton
- 77 Connor Hall
- 32 Zack Miracle
- 95 Jacob Heafner
- 08 Deac McCaskill
- 24 Mason Diaz
- 22 Bobby McCarty
- 81 Mini Tyrrell
- 2 Brandon Pierce
- 44 Conner Jones
- 9 Ashton Higgins
- 77w Trevor Ward
- 5 Carter Langley
- 97 Daniel Silvestri
- 2R Braden Rogers
- 4E Parker Eatmon
- 55 Isabella Robusto
- 77S Blake Stallings
- 90 John Goin
- 8B Chase Burrow -1
- 74 Ronald Hill -1
- 4 Hayden Swank -3
- 19 Jessica Cann -3
- 1 Andrew Grady – OUT
- 91 Jonathan Shafer – OUT
- 74M Craig Moore – OUT
- 16 Chad McCumbee – OUT
- 71 Katie Hettinger – OUT
- 5R Jaiden Reyna – OUT
- 6 William Sawalich
- 96 Luke Fenhaus
- 13 Austin MacDonald
- 24K Buddy Kofoid
- 29 Nick Loden
- 35 Caden Kvapil
- 1 Kody King
- 74 Ryan Moore
- 77 Logan Jones
- 8 Rusty Skewes
- 49 Luke Morey
- 24C Brent Crews – OUT
- 24P Penn Crim – OUT