Salisbury, N.C. – Carson Kvapil was offered a bigger payday to drop to the rear of Wednesday’s season finale at Millbridge Speedway, but the 14-year-old had bigger goals in mind.
He wanted to cap off his championship season with a victory, and that’s exactly what he did.
Kvapil started from the pole, after fast qualifier and first heat race winner Ethan Mitchell elected to fall to the rear in search of a $100 bounty, and never looked back.
After surviving a first-lap slide job attempt by three-time and outgoing track champion Tom Hubert, Kvapil pulled away and led all 20 laps of the Speed51.com Battle at the Bridge for his seventh Open class win of the season – most among all drivers.
The win was a fitting flourish to Kvapil’s season, as he became the youngest champion of the track’s premier division in history at 14 years, five months and 11 days old, eclipsing Max McLaughlin’s 2015 title-winning season as a 15-year-old.
“I didn’t think that for $151, it was going to be worth it to go to the back, to be honest,” said Kvapil, who was offered the combined pot by track officials and event sponsor Speed51.com to drop to the rear and win, but didn’t take the gamble. “I just didn’t think that there’d be any cautions and I knew if there weren’t, that I wouldn’t be able to come all the way from the tail.
“Man, I wanted to win this race. This is one heck of a way to close out the championship. We never expected to be in contention for the points at the start of the year; I’m just thrilled.”
Cautions on laps two and four brought the field back to Kvapil’s rear nerf bar early, but the young gun was unfazed, keeping cool under pressure throughout the main event.
Not even when Mitchell slid Hubert and moved to second on lap five was Kvapil worried, even though Mitchell began to marginally cut into the gap at the halfway point as green flag laps clicked off one by one.
“I was thinking to myself (the whole second half), ‘I hope he doesn’t get up here to me, because it might get a little sketchy,’ but I was able to hold him off,” Kvapil said. “That was huge for us on the final night, here.”
Ultimately, Mitchell’s late-race charge wasn’t quite enough. He settled for second, followed by Hubert, Karsyn Elledge and Tyler Odendahl.
Intermediate division champion Ryan Israel, who wrapped up the class title with one race to spare, made his much-anticipated Open debut but blew a motor after leading early in his heat race and could not start the main.
With Israel not racing the Intermediate feature, that left the door to victory lane wide open for the taking, and it was Caden Kvapil who took full advantage of the opportunity.
The younger Kvapil brother surged to the lead from the outside pole on the opening lap, secured it when the caution came out for a stalled Joey Robinson, and then put on a clinic the rest of the way.
Despite a caution that set up a green-white-checkered finish, erasing a three-second lead for Kvapil, he was able to charge home for his fourth class win of the year over a hard-charging Eli Adams.
“I did not want to see that last caution at all!” said Caden Kvapil. “I just had to get a good start at the end and that’s what I did. I dove to the bottom and when I didn’t see Eli beside me I figured it worked out okay!”
Caleb Bacon, Joey Robinson and Gray Leadbetter completed the top five.
Wyatt Underwood won the 125cc Intermediate class championship, finishing eighth overall in the main.
A torrid Box Stock championship battle saw part-timer Ryan Joyner win his third feature in his last three appearances, but Trevor Cline finish sixth to put the bow on his title-winning year.
Cline simply had to out-run Matthew Gould to win the crown, which he did after Gould finished eighth in the 16-car field.
Meanwhile, Joyner was thrilled with a hard-fought victory, which didn’t come easy after Sam Corry worked into second at the halfway point of the 20-lap feature and pressured Joyner hard down the home stretch.
“I just had to be really smart on the restarts and hope for a big break,” said Joyner, who has won a combined $28,000 this season at various go-kart races around the country. “We’ve had speed, but they’ve been slowly gaining on us. You saw that tonight, but thankfully we had enough to hold on for one more win.”
“We’re hoping to move up into the Intermediate class next year, so this is a great way to finish our year here at Millbridge.”
Corry came home second by .479 of a second, with Hunter Kohn, Aiden Turner and Tiffany Claridge completing the top five.
And in the Beginner Box Stocks, Cassidy Keitt got one back from Aiden Price, scoring her 10th win of the season with a last-lap pass on a green-white-checkered finish.
Keitt’s victory was her first since July 26, breaking a dry spell of more than three months, going back to a hard flip on Back to School night.
It also allowed her to secure the division championship as well.
Price, Lucas Sandifer, Landon Totherow and Chase Spaulding completed the top five finishers.
Millbridge Speedway’s Winter Series – featuring all classes with the exception of the Open division – kicks off on Nov. 18, while the championship banquet will take place on Jan. 6, 2018.
-Story by Jacob Seelman, Millbridge Speedway PR
-Photo credit: Jacob Seelman
RESULTS: Millbridge Speedway; Wednesday Series Season Finale; Nov. 1, 2017
Open Class Time Trials: 1. #19 – Ethan Mitchell, 10.221; 2. #51 – Karsyn Elledge, 10.247; 3. #35 – Carson Kvapil, 10.262; 4. #30 – Tom Hubert, 10.408; 5. #23 – Ryan Israel, 10.413; 6. #02 – Branson Dils, 10.468; 7. #9 – Tyler Odendahl, 10.497; 8. #13 – Joe Ryan Osborne, 10.741; 9. #11 – Alex Bodine, 10.912; 10. #6 – Clark Houston, NT.
Beginner Box Stock Heat Race #1 (8 laps): 1. Aiden Price, 2. Cassidy Keitt, 3. Landon Totherow, 4. Chase Spaulding, 5. Karter Beattie.
Beginner Box Stock Heat Race #2 (8 laps): 1. Dallas Griggs, 2. Coen McDaniel, 3. Lucas Sandifer, 4. Johnathan Paulk, 5. Waylon Lambert.
Box Stock Heat Race #1 (8 laps, top four transfer): 1. Ryan Joyner, 2. Aiden Turner, 3. Sam Corry, 4. Trevor Cline / 5. Tiffany Claridge, 6. Will Boprey, 7. Tyler Dolack.
Box Stock Heat Race #2 (8 laps, top four transfer): 1. Nathan Meendering, 2. Ethan Burdett, 3. Matt Gould, 4. Josh Souza / 5. Lucas Sipka, 6. Kynzer Flynn, 7. Colt Currie.
Box Stock Heat Race #3 (8 laps, top four transfer): 1. Hunter Kohn, 2. Gavan Boschele, 3. Matt Francis, 4. Danny Dyszelski / 5. Carson Loftin, 6. Jett Rolewicz, 7. Emma Francis.
Intermediate Heat Race #1 (8 laps): 1. Brent Crews, 2. Joey Robinson, 3. Connor Yonchuk, 4. Gray Leadbetter, 5. Ben Studer.
Intermediate Heat Race #2 (8 laps): 1. Caden Kvapil, 2. Eli Adams, 3. Caleb Bacon, 4. Wyatt Underwood, 5. Collin Scarbrough.
Open Class Heat #1 (8 laps): 1. Ethan Mitchell, 2. Carson Kvapil, 3. Tyler Odendahl, 4. Alex Bodine, 5. Ryan Israel.
Open Class Heat #2 (8 laps): 1. Tom Hubert, 2. Branson Dils, 3. Karsyn Elledge, 4. Joe Ryan Osborne, 5. Clark Houston (DNS).
Box Stock B-Main (12 laps, four transfer): 1. Will Boprey, 2. Tiffany Claridge, 3. Colt Currie, 4. Carson Loftin / 5. Jett Rolewicz, 6. Kynzer Flynn, 7. Tyler Dolack, 8. Emma Francis, 9. Lucas Sipka.
Beginner Box Stock A-Main (15 laps): 1. Cassidy Keitt, 2. Aiden Price, 3. Lucas Sandifer, 4. Landon Totherow, 5. Chase Spaulding, 6. Dallas Griggs, 7. Coen McDaniel, 8. Karter Beattie, 9. Johnathan Paulk, 10. Waylon Lambert.
Box Stock A-Main (20 laps): 1. Ryan Joyner, 2. Sam Corry, 3. Hunter Kohn, 4. Aiden Turner, 5. Tiffany Claridge, 6. Trevor Cline, 7. Colt Currie, 8. Matthew Gould, 9. Josh Souza, 10. Nathan Meendering, 11. Gavan Boschele, 12. Will Boprey, 13. Matt Francis, 14. Carson Loftin, 15. Danny Dyszelski, 16. Ethan Burdett.
Intermediate A-Main (20 laps): 1. Caden Kvapil, 2. Eli Adams, 3. Caleb Bacon, 4. Joey Robinson, 5. Gray Leadbetter, 6. Connor Yonchuk, 7. Brent Crews, 8. Wyatt Underwood, 9. Ben Studer, 10. Collin Scarbrough.
Open Class A-Main (20 laps): 1. Carson Kvapil, 2. Ethan Mitchell, 3. Tom Hubert, 4. Karsyn Elledge, 5. Tyler Odendahl, 6. Alex Bodine, 7. Branson Dils, 8. Joe Ryan Osborne (DNS), 9. Ryan Israel (DNS), 10. Clark Houston (DNS).