The CARS Solid Rock Carriers Late Model Stock Tour is by far one of the best shows in racing right now, and last night proved even more so why that is a true statement.
After 11 years of sitting dormant, hundreds, if not thousands of hours of manpower, volunteers cleaning and prepping the track, and Dale Earnhardt, Jr., who had the idea to clean it up to scan it for iRacing, we got to see the stars of the CARS Tour take to the track, in front of 20,000-plus fans in attendance for the inaugural running of the Window World 125.
And they did not disappoint either, 125 laps around this historic 5/8thmile surface, which still held the same pavement that the likes of Wallace, Jarrett and Earnhardt raced on in 1996. Carson Kvapil topped the qualifying charts, but his JRM boss, Dale, Jr., topped the practice charts in the overall sessions ran in the last two nights of racing.
Race time came at approximately 8 p.m. with 30 cars in the field, Kvapil on the pole, Earnhardt, Jr. starting in 6th, green flag flies, and as is tradition with the CARS Tour, there was only a single caution for incidents to be seen, as well as their version of “fun flags” to bunch the field back up if they get too spread out.
These yellows happened three times in the 125 lap event, with one caution for an incident with two laps to go. Throughout the race, Dale, Jr. was as far back as 11th on the charts, but when this caution flew, he was running in 3rd, and lined up just behind Kvapil for the restart, setting up the ultimate green, white, checkered finish.
Kvapil took the green, and bolted away from the field, winning the race 2 laps later by nearly half a second over 2nd place Mason Diaz, and claiming the $10,000 checkered flag.
Kvapil commented “Just having cars on track is huge. It’s been over 10 years and it was even longer for Dale. Everyone wanted this place back and we got it back for them. This is one of the biggest races of the year, so winning in front of all these fans is huge. I was a little bit worried about Mason. I knew he was going to get to my back bumper in the center of the corner and I felt I was a little weak there in Turns 1 and 2. He got my left rear a little bit, but he raced me clean, and I’ll remember that for next time.”
Dale Earnhardt, Jr also took a moment to speak after the race and while ready to get back to things at NBC, was quoted as saying “I’ve worked my guts out for two days and I am gassed. A while back, I made a lot of promises on what I could contribute to the event. We were busy, and I don’t know if I can do something this big again. I don’t like being the middle of attention because it’s not very comfortable for me.”
While he might have been exhausted, the racing was second to none, the fans in attendance enjoyed what they saw, and the CARS Tour continues to lead the way in fantastic Late Model Stock racing on pavement.
The next race for the CARS Tour Solid Rock Carriers Late Model Stock Series is September 10th, at Tri-County Speedway in Granite Falls, North Carolina.
Top 10 finishers: Carson Kvapil, Mason Diaz, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jonathan Shafer, Bobby McCarty, Kaden Honeycutt, Zack Miracle, William Sawalich, Stefan Parsons, Brandon Pierce