The record book will show that Carson Kvapil won Saturday’s Super Late Model portion of the MTP Tire 250 at Hickory Motor Speedway from the pole, but in reality, he led for a total of just a few hundred feet.

Kvapil bested defending series champion Matt Craig at the start-finish line to score his first Solid Rock Carriers CARS Tour win by .010 seconds. Kvapil had been glued to Craig’s rear bumper for the final 10 laps of the 100-lap affair before finally making his move during the race’s white-flag lap.

He pulled alongside Craig down the backstretch and drove deep into Turn Three on the inside, forcing Craig up the track. Craig countered with a crossover but couldn’t complete the pass as Kvapil took the win by a nose from the outside line.

“I just kind of set him up, I knew what I had to do, I knew where I could pass him,” Kvapil said. “It was a really cool finish.”

Carson Kvapil takes a polish victory lap after winning his first career CARS Tour Super Late Model race at Hickory Motor Speedway on March 20, 2021. (Bridger Swinimer photo)

Craig was frustrated with Kvapil’s driving style on the last lap and approached the winner’s car to voice his displeasure as he sat in Victory Lane. Kvapil acknowledged his aggression but didn’t believe he had stepped out of bounds.

“I’m sure everyone would know going for the win no matter who it is you’re going to do what I did,” Kvapil said. “I’d expect the same thing from him, I wouldn’t be mad if he did the same thing back.”

Craig had dominated the race, but fought a loose condition on the long runs, allowing Kvapil to close the gap despite his car getting tight.

“I knew if I stayed on his outside he would’ve just taken me to the fence or run into my bumper if I stayed on the bottom,” Craig said of the finish. “So I tried to pull a crossover and it didn’t quite work out. It almost did.

“I just told him after the race it’s kind of dirty but that was right after the race, I probably shouldn’t have gone over there as soon as the race was over. I probably should have given myself a minute to think about it, but it’s just part of it. If you get on the inside of somebody coming to the checkered you’re going to take them to the fence. That’s just how racing is. So I thought my smartest move was to back out, try to pull a crossover. It almost worked, but didn’t.”

The race featured a single caution flag at exactly the halfway point when Kodie Conner tangled with Brandon Setzer in Turn One. The yellow flag period brought the field to pit road to change right rear tires, thanks to a new rule requiring teams to start on three new tires and one scuff tire on the left front. However, they have one new tire that can be changed anytime during a competition yellow without losing spots on pit road.

When the race resumed and Craig and Kvapil jumped out in front a separate battle was taking place deeper in the 14-car field. Ryan Moore ultimately claimed the third position on Lap 82 and rounded out the podium finishers. Moore was making one of his spot starts on the year and hadn’t competed since the World Series of Asphalt Racing at New Smyrna Speedway in February.

“We were off a little bit from [the top two] but it’s still a new Rowdy car that we’re kind of learning and getting to know better,” Moore said. “The only race we’ve run is New Smyrna, and obviously New Smyrna’s a lot different animal than this place. So honestly for this racetrack it’s a really good run for me. This place has been pretty hard on me. We’ve got some good notes and learned some stuff and hopefully will be stronger next time.”

No one is off to a stronger start than 17-year old Carson Kvapil, who this year is focused on Super Late Model competition and making starts in ARCA East after winning the 2020 Carolina Pro Late Model Series title. He found his way to his first CARS Tour Victory Lane using a great deal of advice from his father, 2003 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion and longtime Cup Series competitor, Travis Kvapil.

However, he’s also determined to chart his own path in the sport.

“There’s a lot he’s helped me with, he ran Super Late Models back in the day so he can relate to some things,” Carson Kvapil said regarding his father’s influence. “He’s helped me the whole way. I’m starting to figure it out though.”

Full Results:
1. 35 Carson Kvapil
2. 54 Matt Craig
3. 74 Ryan Moore
4. 28 TJ Duke
5. 94x Garrett Hall
6. 7c Justin Crider
7. 4ME Ben Rowe
8. 11 Michael Ritch
9. 49 Jeff Batten
10. Jacob Perry
11. Mike Hopkins
12. 7 Jeremy Barclay
13. 45 Kodie Conner
14. 6 Brandon Setzer