After a one year hiatus, the Solid Rock Carriers CARS Tour is set to make its grand return to Florence Motor Speedway on Saturday with the Aaron’s 125.
Built in 1982, drivers like Joe Nemechek, Dave Mader III, Stanley Smith and Robert Huffman were among those to visit victory lane at Florence during its early years. The track now finds itself in the middle of a renaissance under the direction of Steve Zacharias, who took over day-to-day operations in 2020 following the closure of Myrtle Beach Speedway.
The CARS Tour’s relationship with Florence began back in 2020 when the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic required the series to make several schedule changes. Since then, Florence has become a popular track amongst drivers and fans, with its abrasive surface creating a plethora of strategies when it comes to tire conservation.
Another thrilling chapter in the CARS Tour’s brief history with Florence is set to be written with Saturday’s 125-lap Late Model Stock feature, where the field will look to halt the momentum of Deac McCaskill following his season-opening victory at Southern National Motorsports Park.
Track: Florence Motor Speedway
Location: Timmonsville, South Carolina
Length: .400 mile
Laps: 125 (LMSC)
CARS LMSC Tour races: 2
CARS SLM Tour races: 1
LMSC Florence winners: Nolan Pope (2020), Kaden Honeycutt (2021)
SLM Florence winner: Matt Craig (2020)
LMSC Entry List (28 cars): #03 Brenden Queen, #08 Deac McCaskill, #0 Landon Pembelton, #1 Andrew Grady, #2 Brandon Pierce, #2W Ryan Wilson, #4 Dylon Wilson, #6 Bobby McCarty, #8 Carson Kvapil, #8B Chase Burrow, #8F Tate Fogleman, #14 Jared Fryar, #15 Ryan Millington, #16 Chad McCumbee, #20 Joshua Dickens, #22 Cale Gale, #24 Mason Diaz, #28 Ryan Glenski, #32 Zack Miracle, #42 Carson Brown, #44 Conner Jones, #55 Isabella Robusto, #59 Blake Lothian, #67 Cameron Bolin, #77 Connor Hall, #81 Mini Tyrrell, #95 Jacob Heafner, #97 Jason Kitzmiller
Mason Diaz confident he is getting closer to first CARS Tour win
Mason Diaz heads to Florence Motor Speedway determined to move on from a disappointing end to the South Carolina 400 last November.
A set of controversial circumstances ultimately resulted in Diaz coming together with Sam Yarbrough while battling for the victory. Despite the frustration, Diaz considers Florence to be one of his best tracks and is confident the facility will be the site of his first career CARS Late Model Stock Car Tour win on Saturday.
“We’ve been pretty stout [at Florence] the last two times we’ve been there with Chad [Bryant],” Diaz said. “We showed great speed in the South Carolina 400 and [Florence’s season-opening] IceBreaker, so I don’t see us having anything different. We just need to get a better qualifying spot compared to what we had in the Icebreaker.”
Diaz anticipates the Aaron’s 125 to be similar in many ways to the Icebreaker; a race where he finished third just over a month ago.
Tire conservation will be at the forefront of Saturday’s 125-lap Late Model Stock feature just as it was in the South Carolina 400, but the shorter distance in the former means a heavier emphasis on track position, which is why Diaz intends to work closely with Bryant to make sure his car has speed for qualifying.
The performances Diaz put together with Bryant in their first two races together at Florence have given him plenty of optimism in his ability to contend for the win in the Aaron’s 125. Diaz does not expect a win to come easy, but accomplishing his overdue milestone would provide a jolt in his pursuit of an LMSC Tour championship.
“Wins bring momentum, along with solid finishes,” Diaz said. “Southern National wasn’t our best weekend and I certainly had bigger hopes with the experience I have at the track. We brought our best effort, but it wasn’t enough, so hopefully this weekend at Florence is different.”
Zack Miracle returns to home track with more experience, confidence
Florence Motor Speedway is where Zack Miracle honed his craft as a driver.
From watching his dad Jerry race to testing himself against the track regulars, Miracle has gradually developed a thorough understanding on how to navigate the 0.4-mile facility and believes that knowledge will yield him a CARS LMSC Tour victory at his home track.
“I’m feeling really good [about Saturday],” Miracle said. “We’re super excited to be heading back to Florence and I know we’ll have a fast car. Hopefully we can get some luck on our side and find our way to victory lane.”
Miracle admitted his rookie LMSC Tour season was a major learning curve. In 15 starts, Miracle amassed two Top 5 finishes, with his best run being a third at Tri-County Motor Speedway.
The positives and negatives of 2022 provided Miracle a lot of insight on how to keep his car competitive through an entire race. He now feels more prepared heading into his second LMSC Tour start at Florence, as he settled for a 17th place run at the track in 2021 after setting the fastest time in qualifying.
Miracle knows his car is more than capable of parking in Florence’s victory lane on Saturday evening but said accomplishing that goal will come down to perfect execution against an LMSC Tour field that has only gotten tougher since his first start.
“This is definitely the series to be in,” Miracle said. “There’s about 25 cars each week that can win and it’s made things a little bit more difficult. You have to bring you’re A game every lap and look at everyone the same. All you can do is focus on your stuff and be there at the end.”
CARS Tour another stop in Jason Kitzmiller’s versatile career
Jason Kitzmiller has spent the past several years gaining experience across several different motorsports disciplines.
From winning a Super Cup Stock Car Series title to making a handful of starts in the ARCA Menards Series, Kitzmiller now finds himself in his first season driving a Late Model Stock. The plan is for Kitzmiller to run every race with the CARS Tour, but he admitted his inaugural venture into Late Model Stocks has been far from easy.
“We’re going to run until North Wilkesboro and see how everything goes,” Kitzmiller said. “It’s been a difficult year for us so far, and I didn’t run a Late Model [Stock] until last year. Things have been quite difficult when it comes to getting a handle on these cars.”
The competitive depth of the CARS LMSC Tour is what convinced Kitzmiller to test his luck in the series and improve his skills as a driver.
Kitzmiller has the benefit of receiving assistance from NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series team CR7 Motorsports run by his nephew Codie Rohrbaugh. Despite this, Kitzmiller said everyone at the shop is still relatively new with preparing Late Model Stocks, adding the inexperience was on display during the LMSC Tour opener at Southern National Motorsports Park.
A tough weekend for Kitzmiller saw him bring home a 26th place finish, which he does not believe is indicative of the team’s potential. Kitzmiller intends to approach the rest of the 2023 season one race at a time so he can obtain the necessary experience to contend for Top 10 finishes at the end of the year.
“We just want to get more competitive,” Kitzmiller said. “All along, we’ve felt that a Top 10 or Top 15 would be a win for us because we’re going up against so many good cars that include Dale [Earnhardt] Jr.’s drivers. We’re still a way out from reaching that goal at this point, but all the guys at the shop are working hard and we’re much better rolling into Florence.”
A busy night of racing at Florence Motor Speedway also includes races for U-Cars, Vintage cars, the Allison Legacy Series and the Thunder & Lightning division. On-track action starts at 7 p.m. ET, with the Aaron’s 125 being the fourth race scheduled for Saturday evening, all of which can be seen 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.