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Carson Kvapil: “Sucks to Get That Close” to Dover Win

Carson Kvapil

Carson Kvapil contemplates his runner-up result following Saturday’s BetRivers 200 at Dover. (Photo: Daniel Rankin | The Podium Finish)

DOVER, Del. — The future is now as far as Carson Kvapil is concerned after Saturday’s BetRivers 200 at Dover Motor Speedway.

Ahead of making his second NASCAR XFINITY Series start, Kvapil showcased incredible pace in Friday’s practice session. The 20-year-old Mooresville, North Carolina, native was the 10th fastest but quickest in a 10-lap consecutive run.

Although Kvapil qualified 26th, the driver of the No. 88 Chevy Truck Season Chevrolet Camaro, prepared by JR Motorsports, was ready to race. Such promise was shown when the late model racing sensation placed third in Friday’s ARCA Menards Series race.

Once Saturday’s XFINITY series race kicked off, Kvapil was methodical and steady behind the wheel. Placing 13th in Stages 1 and 2, it was evident that Kvapil’s pace from Friday carried over onto race day.

By the halfway point of the race, Kvapil drove up to ninth position. Fittingly, he compiled the ninth highest average running position per NASCAR’s loop data, 11.0, and the third highest green flag paces with 45.

Clearly, Kvapil looked more like a seasoned pro than a green driver learning the ins and outs of NASCAR’s second highest division. Tallying the eighth highest driver rating, 95.6, Kvapil raced with maturity, poise and grace.

As the race wound down, Kvapil drove inside the top six with 43 laps remaining. Then, with 17 laps to go, Kvapil worked his way up to third position.

Kvapil nearly made it three-wide with nine laps to go when he battled for the lead against Sheldon Creed and Austin Hill. Thinking better of it going to Turn 1, he temporarily resumed his third place running position before the following lap.

Carson Kvapil

Carson Kvapil took the lead from Austin Hill and Sheldon Creed inside the final 10 laps at Dover. (Photo: Daniel Rankin | The Podium Finish)

This time, Kvapil took Creed and Hill three-wide on the frontstretch, committing to the inside line. On this occasion, Kvapil made it stick, edging past the two XFINITY series veterans with authority.

It appeared as if Cinderella had the glass slipper on hand, as Kvapil pulled away from Hill before Riley Herbst brought out the caution with his Turn 4 incident collecting Brennan Poole and Sammy Smith.

As the race went into NASCAR Overtime, Kvapil restarted on the outside of Row 1 alongside Hill. Going into Turns 1 and 2, Hill washed up the track, nearly into Kvapil and spun to bring out another caution.

By this juncture, Ryan Truex, the defending race winner, found himself in second and in position for another Dover win. On the ensuing NASCAR Overtime restart on Lap 207, Truex drove past Kvapil in Turn 3, clearing the young North Carolinian in Turn 4.

Truex, who took the white flag as the leader, looked to stave off Kvapil for the win. Then, Justin Allgaier spun off Turn 4, hitting the wall, resulting in the decisive caution that ended Kvapil’s one and only shot to challenge Truex.

Despite the strong runner-up at Dover, Kvapil was so close to tasting victory. Still, he considered the positives with a bittersweet result.

“I don’t know. I thought we had a pretty good restart on the one before with Hill there,” Kvapil said. “I don’t know. God, it sucks, to get that close. I don’t really even know what to say.

“I think we had a really fast Chevrolet here. JR Motorsports brought me a really good piece. I’m just really fortunate to be in the spot that I am.”

No doubt, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kelley Earnhardt Miller, two of the principals spearheading JR Motorsports, are elated with Kvapil’s latest performance. On X, Earnhardt chimed in and commended Kvapil on a “great job” on “another top 5.”

Carson Kvapil

Despite coming up a position short, Carson Kvapil earned the praises of the bossman, Dale Earnhardt Jr., following his runner-up at Dover. (Photo: Jennie Mae Lingle | The Podium Finish)

All things considered, Kvapil showcased his unbridled potential against a competitive field at Dover. Upon reflection, Kvapil gave it his all even as he restarted in a less than favorable lane for his car.

“I’m happy that I had a shot to win the race at the end there,” he said. “We had a good car. I just couldn’t get really get it through the restarts really good and it was pretty questionable about the top line.

“My car seemed to pin the bottom the whole day. It seemed like the top was so dominant. And he just barely got us there going into [Turn] 3.”

Rob Tiongson is a sports writer and editor originally from the Boston area and resides in the Austin, Texas, area. Tiongson has covered motorsports series like NASCAR and INDYCAR since 2008 and NHRA since 2013. Most recently, Tiongson is covering professional basketball, mainly the WNBA, and women's college basketball. While writing and editing for The Podium Finish, Tiongson currently seeks for a long-term sportswriting and sports content creating career. Tiongson enjoys editing and writing articles and features, as well as photography. Moreover, he enjoys time with his family and friends, traveling, cooking, working out and being a fun uncle or "funcle" to his nephew, niece and cat. Tiongson is an alum of Southern New Hampshire University with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication and St. Bonaventure University's renowned Jandoli School of Communication with a Master of Arts in Digital Journalism.

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