The Solid Rock Carriers CARS Tour will crown two champions in the prestigious John Blewett III North-South Shootout at Caraway Speedway on Saturday afternoon.
Since 2003, Modified competitors from both the north and south have converged each year in the southeast to prove which region is superior. Now taking place at Caraway, both divisions of the CARS Tour were added to the North-South Shootout docket last year to determine their respective champions.
There is almost no doubt as to who will claim the CARS Late Model Stock Car and Pro Late Model Tour titles at Caraway. Defending LMSC Tour champion Carson Kvapil leads Brenden Queen by 19 points, while Caden Kvapil effectively locked up the PLM Tour title with a victory in the most recent event at Tri-County Motor Speedway.
Even though the championships are nearly settled, the North-South Shootout still presents one last opportunity for drivers to end the 2023 season with a victory and build momentum heading into a brief but busy winter.
Track: Caraway Speedway
Location: Asheboro, North Carolina
Length: .455 mile
Laps: 125 (LMSC), 100 (PLM)
CARS LMSC Tour races: 4
CARS PLM Tour races: 3
LMSC Caraway winners: Jared Fryar (2), Justin Johnson (1), Carson Kvapil (1),
PLM Caraway winners: Caden Kvapil (2), Austin MacDonald (1)
LMSC Entry List (27 cars): #03 Brenden Queen, #04 Ronnie Bassett Jr., #0 Landon Pembelton, #1 Andrew Grady, #2 Brandon Pierce, #4 Dylon Wilson, #4D Kyle Dudley, #6 Bobby McCarty, #7 Dylan Ward, #8 Carson Kvapil, #8B Chase Burrow, #10 Kaden Honeycutt, #14 Jared Fryar, #15 Ryan Millington, #15C Logan Clark, #16 Chad McCumbee, #21 Lanie Buice, #22 Landon Huffman, #24 Mason Diaz, #32 Zack Miracle, #59 Heath Causey, #67 Cameron Bolin, #75B Coy Beard, #77 Connor Hall, #77W Trevor Ward, #81 Mini Tyrrell, #95 Jacob Heafner
PLM Entry List (14 cars): #2 Jessica Coulter, #6 George Phillips, #7CT Cory Casagrande, #8 Rusty Skewes, #13 Austin MacDonald, #15B Aiden King, #28 Jimmy Renfrew Jr., #43H Joshua Horniman, #44 Michael Lichtfield, #51 Kaden Honeycutt, #55 Charlie Keeven, #77 Logan Jones, #96 Caden Kvapil, #96B Ashton Higgins
LMSC Point Standings:
- 8 Carson Kvapil
- 03 Brenden Queen -19
- 24 Mason Diaz -95
- 15 Ryan Millington -113
- 6 Bobby McCarty -122
- 16 Chad McCumbee -133
- 95 Jacob Heafner -165
- 04 Ronnie Bassett Jr. -172
- 2 Brandon Pierce -194
- 22 Landon Huffman -197
PLM Point Standings:
- 96 Caden Kvapil
- 81 Katie Hettinger -18
- 96B Ashton Higgins -80
- 77 Logan Jones -97
- 13 Austin MacDonald -115
- 7 Tristan McKee -158
- 43 Joshua Horniman -162
- 6 George Phillips -163
- 03 Kyle Campbell -165
- 8 Rusty Skewes -168
Carson Kvapil on the verge of second straight LMSC Tour title
Ever since he became a full-time driver in the CARS LMSC Tour last year, Carson Kvapil has been the most dominant driver in the series.
Nine victories in two seasons have Kvapil on the precipice of earning his second consecutive LMSC Tour title in Saturday’s North-South Shootout at Caraway Speedway. Even though he does not have the championship wrapped up yet, Kvapil has every reason to believe Saturday will be as smooth as the previous 15 races in 2023.
“I’m a little nervous as anybody would be, but I’m pretty excited going into it,” Kvapil said. “We’ve also run pretty good at Caraway even when we weren’t that good. We haven’t dropped out of a single race this year, but we can’t put ourselves in a bad spot. Things are looking good, but we’re going to go contend for a win and let the points play out.”
Kvapil, who has yet to register a finish outside the Top 10 this year, admitted that 2023 has been far more challenging compared to his rookie season with how tough the competition currently is in the LMSC Tour.
Facing stiff competition that includes Brenden Queen, Bobby McCarty, Connor Hall and more, Kvapil managed to accomplish a personal goal of scoring more wins in 2023. He credits his efficiency to the strength of JR Motorsports along with his maturity away from the track when it comes to building relationships inside the team.
Fittingly, Kvapil and JR Motorsports are looking to take their second LMSC Tour at the same track where their stalwart dynamic began back in 2022 with Kvapil’s triumph in the Old North State Nationals. Kvapil knows Saturday will play out differently than that first victory but believes he will be in good shape with the right setup on his car.
A mistake-free afternoon at Caraway is the key for Kvapil to end his season with another victory while simultaneously celebrating a championship alongside his younger brother Caden, which would make them the first set of siblings to win CARS Tour titles in the same year.
“It’s a pretty big deal for [Caden] to win a title in the Pros,” Kvapil said. “That’s a very tough class every week with the Donnie Wilson and Anthony Campi cars. Those are some of the best cars out there, so him winning that championship is pretty cool. If I were to get it done on my end, that’d be even better.”
Against heavy odds, Brenden Queen optimistic heading into Caraway
Brenden Queen understands a lot of circumstances need to fall his way for him to have an opportunity at the CARS LMSC Tour title.
Entering the North-South Shootout with a 19-point deficit to Carson Kvapil, Queen is not heavily focused on the LMSC Tour championship picture but is confident he can close out his debut season with a fourth win on the 2023 season.
“I feel like I don’t really have any pressure on me,” Queen said. “I’m locked into second, so we’re just going to Caraway to do our job, which is to get a pole, lead all the laps and win the race. If the points fall in place, it’s meant to be, but if not, then hopefully we can still get out of there with a win.”
Queen has nearly matched Kvapil in every category this year. The two have combined to win eight of the 15 races on the 2023 LMSC Tour season, both have led over 500 laps and neither driver has recorded a DNF.
The key turning point in the championship occurred in the Old North State Nationals at Tri-County Motor Speedway, where Queen finished a lap down in 15th after running out of fuel while leading. Kvapil finishing second that night has forced Queen to try and erase that deficit over the last four events, with only minimal results.
Although Queen wishes he could have Tri-County back, he still considers the 2023 season to be a resounding success. With Queen set to return to Lee Pulliam Performance next year, he is eager to finish off the LMSC Tour season finale on a positive note so he can build momentum towards a potential championship run.
“Lee Pulliam Performance is a top team in the CARS Tour,” Queen said. “You have to take us seriously. Everyone works hard and Lee is such a great leader. Bringing fast cars every week against JR Motorsports is something the Virginia boys can be proud of and if we can keep winning, that can only help us for next year.”
Caden Kvapil prepares to wrap up stellar 2023
There will be almost nothing for Caden Kvapil to worry about when the green flag waves for the North-South Shootout at Caraway Speedway on Saturday afternoon.
No one on the entry list stands in the way of Kvapil earning his first championship in the CARS PLM Tour. With two victories at Caraway on his resume, Kvapil is determined to add one more accomplishment on the year before hosting the PLM Tour championship trophy.
“It’s a big stress-reliever knowing I basically have [the championship],” Kvapil said. “There’s still the owner’s points title, but we have a good lead there too. Caraway is one of the better tracks for me and we pretty much led the whole race in June. I’m feeling really good about our chances going into this one.”
Moving into Highlands Motorsports’ backup car during the summer was the difference maker for Kvapil following an inconsistent start to the 2023 season.
After only two Top 5s in the first six races, Kvapil has nearly been unstoppable since taking home a checkered flag at Caraway in June. While behind the wheel of the Highlands Motorsports backup, Kvapil has only finished outside the Top 5 once, which came at Wake County Speedway due to a last lap crash while battling for the win.
For Kvapil, he has personally seen improvement with the way he provides feedback to his team. The effective communication Kvapil has shared with Highlands Motorsports has allowed him to find more of a comfort zone in the No. 96, which was crucial in securing the PLM Tour title before the North-South Shootout.
Outside of a fourth win on the year, the only thing that could make the end of 2023 even better for Kvapil would be to have his brother Carson join him as a CARS Tour champion.
“We both have good leads, but you never know what’s going to happen,” Kvapil said. “This is a pretty big piece of history, but it’s cool to see [Carson’s] success over the past few years with his championships in the Late Model Stocks and Supers. It would be cool to finally be up there with him with my own championship in the CARS Tour.”
There will be plenty more storylines to follow during the final race of the 2023 CARS Tour season.
Both Kvapil brothers are also in the running for the Keen Parts Challenge, a separate four-race championship shared between the two CARS Tour divisions that will pay $10,000 to the winner. Carson leads his brother Caden by just two points heading into the final race, but Brenden Queen remains within striking distance eight points behind.
Saturday will also see Kaden Honeycutt complete a marathon that includes four races in two days. After running the ARCA Menards Series West and NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series finales at Phoenix Raceway on Friday, Honeycutt will take the long flight to North Carolina to run both the CARS LMSC and PLM Tour features.
The two CARS Tour races will make up the first half of the North-South Shootout. At 1 p.m. ET, the PLM Tour will run their 100-lap race before the LMSC Tour puts a bow on the 2023 season with a 125-lap feature. The 602 Modifieds and Tour Modifieds will follow the LMSC Tour event.
FloRacing will carry live coverage of all the on-track action.
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.