There was no shortage of chaos in Friday’s HarrisonsWorkwear.com 225 at Tri-County Motor Speedway.
A last lap accident marred the end of the 100-lap Solid Rock Carriers CARS Pro Late Model Tour event, while the closing stages of the 125-lap Late Model Stock Car Tour event featured an endless number of cautions that left behind a trail of damaged race cars.
The two drivers who departed Tri-County the happiest were Conner Jones and Jake Garcia, who each scored their first career victories in the LMSC and PLM Tours respectively.
A season of frustration culminates into win for Conner Jones
Conner Jones has tried just about everything to find consistency in the LMSC Tour.
Circumstances ended up favoring the Fredericksburg, Virginia native on Saturday evening, as he muscled his way towards the front of the pack and survived the onslaught of late-race cautions to end what had been two years of adversity in Late Model Stock competition.
“Last year was a rough year and this has also been a rough one until now,” Jones said. “I think this is a turning point where we can really start to go out and win more races. I couldn’t do this without all the guys who worked on the car.”
Jones admitted that Tri-County has become one of his favorite tracks, adding that the recent repave to all four turns at the facility gave him and everyone else the ability to run multiple grooves, particularly during the closing laps.
Seeing how aggressive his competition became with every passing restart, Jones knew he could not pull any punches while searching for his first victory. This mindset became more apparent once he found himself face-to-face with current LMSC Tour points leader Carson Kvapil on the final restart.
The two had previously traded blows in an earlier restart but managed to fight their way back towards the front. One last assertive push from Jones was enough for him to power past Kvapil and pull away for a cathartic debut win in the CARS Tour.
“It just came to a point where you have to man up and drive hard back,” Jones said. “Props to Carson, because he drove a hell of a race but really raced me clean as well. He drove me up a couple of times, but that’s just hard racing, especially when you’re trying to get everything out of the track.”
Carson Kvapil finishes fourth, tangles with Zack Miracle after checkered flag
Once the chaos started to unfold in the 125-lap LMSC Tour feature, Carson Kvapil saw a perfect opportunity to bring home his fourth win on the 2022 season.
After colliding with Connor Hall and being shuffled to the middle of the pack, Kvapil took advantage of the rapid restarts to get back up to the point, but ultimately had to settle for fourth after hard racing with Jones caused him to lose track position once again.
“It was a demolition derby,” Kvapil said of the racing. “Just caution after caution. We could hold on to the lead, but then two laps later, we’d have a caution. It was a bunch of short runs and I felt we had a better car on the long runs. [Conner] Jones just gave me a little bit of door on that last restart, but we were just racing for the win, so I can’t be too upset about that.”
Kvapil’s eventful night did not even end once the checkered flag was displayed.
Frustrated with the way Zack Miracle had been battling him during the final sprint to the finish, Kvapil expressed his frustration to the young racer by turning Miracle into the outside retaining wall on the cooldown lap, resulting in significant damage to the latter’s car.
Miracle said that everyone had to fight for each position with how difficult it was to pass all evening. While Miracle was disappointed over what happened after the checkered flag, he could not help but feel elated after bringing home such a strong run.
“This was our first ever CARS Tour podium,” Miracle said. “I can’t even describe the emotions right now, but I’m just so proud of my guys. They work super hard every week. The damage is a lot but we’ll be back to race.”
Miracle admitted that he was stunned by Kvapil’s post-race maneuver. He did not believe his battle with Kvapil crossed any boundaries, but he did not express any malice towards the current LMSC Tour points leader and plans to move on from Tri-County.
Conversely, Kvapil felt Miracle was out of line with the moves he made at the end of Saturday’s feature. He does not plan to seek out Miracle for a conversation and hopes the young driver understands not to be overly aggressive when battling with others at the end of a race.
“I thought [Miracle] was racing me too hard,” Kvapil said. “The other guys gave me a door, which is kind of how you race [at Tri-County]. I can’t be too mad about that, but when a guy straightlines me from two lanes below while going for third place, I’m not going to be happy afterwards.”
Jake Garcia ends William Sawalich’s four-race win streak in controversial fashion
William Sawalich had led 474 consecutive laps in the PLM Tour when he saw the checkered flag fly in front of him in Saturday’s 100-lap feature at Tri-County.
That efficient streak came to an abrupt and shocking end after Sawalich was turned into the outside retaining wall by Jake Garcia coming off Turn 4; an outcome that left Garcia remorseful and disappointed in victory lane.
“I didn’t mean to wreck [Sawalich] there,” Garcia said. “We were leaning on each other and one of us was bound to spin. That’s kind of how it went and I apologize to [Sawalich]. We just have to move on to the next one now.”
Garcia had gradually been eating away at Sawalich’s lead during the final run to the finish before finally putting himself within striking distance of the lead.
Knowing Garcia had a faster car, Sawalich attempted to play defense so he could add a fifth consecutive victory and inch closer to Luke Fenhaus’s lead in the PLM Tour standings despite missing a race at Greenville-Pickens Speedway earlier this year.
Instead, Sawalich now finds himself with a much larger deficit to Fenhaus after the last lap crash, adding that he intends to keep the finish at Tri-County in the back of his mind the next time he sees Garcia on track.
“[Garcia] was on my bumper going into Turn 3,” Sawalich said. “He pushed me into the corner, but I kind of got some distance between our bumpers. I was trying to protect, but he stayed on my bumper and didn’t lift. I wish I could have been raced better but we’ll see him in Pensacola.”
The last thing Garcia wanted was to spin Sawalich out of the lead after observing his incredible run in the PLM Tour during the summer. Following a muted victory lane celebration, Garcia plans to turn his attention towards his remaining schedule in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and in Super Late Model competition.
“I was just trying to get [Sawalich] out of the way and beat him to the line by a fender,” Garcia said. “That’s typical when you stay on the corner and wait until the last lap, but now I’m just excited for Bristol next weekend in the Truck Series.”
Even though he is now the eighth different driver to win in the LMSC Tour this year, Jones understands that there are still many aspects where he could improve himself behind the wheel.
Jones is tempering his own expectations ahead of the ValleyStar Credit Union 300 at Martinsville Speedway and the next LMSC Tour event at Ace Speedway, but he is determined to add on to his win total before the end of 2022.
“This gives me confidence, but only so much,” Jones said. “I feel a lot better about myself and this race team. To win Martinsville, we have to do the same thing we did [at Tri-County], which is to qualify up front and survive the heat races.”
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.
- 44 Conner Jones
- 91 Jonathan Shafer
- 32 Zack Miracle
- 8 Carson Kvapil
- 2r Braden Rogers
- 95 Jacob Heafner
- 8b Chase Burrow
- 10 Janson Marchbanks
- 16 Chad McCumbee
- 2 Brandon Pierce
- 55 Isabella Robusto
- 4w Dylon Wilson
- 4 Hayden Swank -1
- 24 Mason Diaz – OUT
- 9 Ashton Higgins – OUT
- 1 Andrew Grady – OUT
- 43 William Sawalich – OUT
- 15 Ryan Millington – OUT
- 08 Deac McCaskill – OUT
- 5 Carter Langley – OUT
- 77 Connor Hall – OUT
- 87 Mike Looney – OUT
- 15m Mitch Walker – OUT
- 12 Thomas Beane – OUT
- 22 Bobby McCarty – OUT
- 81 Mini Tyrrell – OUT
- 35g Jake Garcia
- 96 Luke Fenhaus
- 54 Matt Craig
- 35 Caden Kvapil
- 74 Ryan Moore
- 27 Lee Tissot
- 5b Gavan Boschele
- 49m Luke Morey
- 99 Stephen Leicht
- 6 William Sawalich – OUT
- 21 Tommy Neal -1
- 13 Austin MacDonald -18
- 1 Kody King – OUT
- 77 Logan Jones – OUT
- 8 Rusty Skewes – O