Tale Of The Tape: Carson Kvapil Vs. Brenden Queen For CARS Tour Title
Tale Of The Tape: Carson Kvapil Vs. Brenden Queen For CARS Tour Title
A deep dive into how Carson Kvapil and Brenden Queen arrived as CARS Tour championship contenders for Saturday's finale at Caraway Speedway.
It’s hard to believe that the CARS Tour season is about to come to an end this Saturday at North Carolina’s Caraway Speedway, but with 15 races in the books we’ve only got one left. And entering season finale we have two drivers who have a chance to win the championship in Carson Kvapil and Brenden Queen.
So, let’s take a deep dive into how we got to this point, with Kvapil currently leading Queen by 19 points entering Saturday’s finale.
Carson Kvapil - Points Leader
Kvapil came into the year with a bullseye on his back. That’s what happens when you’re the defending series champion, and you drive for JR Motorsports. Kvapil certainly hasn’t disappointed. In many aspects he’s exceeded expectations as the defending champ.
Right out of the gate Kvapil showed why he won the title in 2022. Kvapil finished a close second to Deac McCaskill in the season-opener in early March at Southern National Motorsports Park, but then he rattled off three wins in a row at Florence Motor Speedway, Hickory Motor Speedway, and Ace Speedway, leading a total of 248 out of 375 laps in those three races including all 125 at Ace. Kvapil quickly established himself as the championship favorite once again.
Kvapil Goes From Back To Front To Score Fifth Win Of Season
But then the Tour turned its attention to North Wilkesboro Speedway, where everyone expected Kvapil to add a fourth-straight win. After all, Kvapil was the driver that took the win in the electric Racetrack Revival event there in 2022. But that wasn’t what happened. Kvapil finally looked human again, finishing a disappointing eighth after leading 16 laps.
Kvapil then scored finishes of fourth (Langley Speedway), sixth (Dominion Raceway), third (Caraway Speedway), and fourth (Hickory) before returning to victory lane at Ace in August to complete the season sweep at the Altamahaw, North Carolina bullring.
He followed up his win at the second race at Ace with a runner-up finish at Tri-County Motor Speedway in the Old North State Nationals. Kvapil led 76 of 200 laps that evening before fading and then having to rebound back to the front.
Then the series went back to a bullring at Wake County Speedway where Kvapil scored what could be argued as his most impressive win of the season. Kvapil qualified a disappointing 18th, but still made his way to the front of the field to lead 63 laps and win the race without so much as a scratch on his race car.
While Kvapil has not gone back to victory lane since that evening at Wake County, Kvapil has a top-10 finish in every race this season to go along with top-five runs in 13 of his 15 starts. He’s led a total of 534 laps and has an average finish of 3.47 according to CARS Tour Digest.
It’s clear to see why Kvapil enters Saturday’s finale as the favorite to win the championship and why he’s poised to join Bobby McCarty as the only repeat champions since the CARS Tour’s inception in 2015.
Brenden “Butterbean” Queen - Trails By 19 Points
It’s fair to say that not many people expected Brenden Queen to be in this position at the end of his first full-time CARS Tour season. After all, Queen was going to many of the tracks on the schedule for the first time in his career while many of the drivers he’d have to beat for a chance at the championship had already been at those same tracks multiple times.
Yet here we are anyway, with Queen trailing Kvapil by just 19 points with a shot to win the championship in his first full season on the Tour and first season with Lee Pulliam Performance.
Queen’s drive in the season-opener at SNMP was nothing to write home about as he finished seventh that afternoon, but he turned heads the next race at Florence where he finished a close second to defending champion Kvapil in what would be a preview of what was to come the rest of the season.
Queen finished 10th at Hickory and fourth at Ace before his breakthrough came on the biggest stage at North Wilkesboro Speedway. Queen led 65 laps and won by nearly five seconds ahead of the field in a truly dominating effort at the historic venue and kicked his championship chase and his battle with Kvapil into high gear that night in May.
He followed that win up with two runner-up finishes at his home track of Langley Speedway and Dominion Raceway where he led 105 laps. He finished at Caraway before a third-place run at Hickory in the summer. Queen started 12th and dropped to the rear to save his tires for a late charge that nearly paid off.
Queen also led the most laps in the second visit to Ace in August with 68 before fading to fifth in the closing laps. Unfortunately for him, Kvapil went to victory lane that night.
Brenden Queen Gets Redemption And Climbs The Fence At Tri-County
But the biggest heartbreaker on the year, and perhaps the turning point in the championship battle came at the Old North State Nationals at Tri-County. Queen led the most laps with 94 and looked poised to drive into victory lane unchallenged as he had the dominant car, but he ran out of fuel with more than 20 laps still remaining. With the best car on the race track, Queen finished 16th for his only finish outside of the top 10 all season while Kvapil rallied late to finish second for a massive points gain.
Queen has won two of the four races since Tri-County and two of the last three races contested at New River All-American Speedway and the second trip to Tri-County, with fourth-place runs at South Boston and Wake County in between.
When you tally it all up, Queen has three wins, five poles, 11 top five-finishes and 14 top-10 runs in 15 starts. He’s led a total of 502 laps, and has an average finish of 4.53.
While it’s certainly been a strong first CARS Tour campaign for Queen, it’s hard to not think about what could have been for Queen and Lee Pulliam Performance had they not run out of fuel at Tri-County in August.
But no matter what, we as fans get to look at Saturday’s finale with two drivers who have a chance to compete for a championship. After 15 races, that’s all we can ask for.
The CARS Tour will conclude its season with a Late Model Stock Car and Pro Late Model doubleheader at Caraway Speedway on Saturday, November 4, live on FloRacing. Fans can subscribe to FloRacing by clicking here.
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