SALISBURY, N.C. – Carson Kvapil has been one of the more dominant forces at Millbridge Speedway in recent years, winning four straight track championships in the Open outlaw kart class.
However, success in the track’s major races has often eluded the 17-year-old, second-generation driver.
Kvapil has struggled in the past in the Speed51 Open and, last year, the TRD Micro Showdown, but he’s hoping to capture a marquee victory during this week’s TRD KKM Giveback Classic presented by Rowdy Energy.
Kvapil will pilot one of four entries out of the Factor 1 East stable, hoping to finally shake off the gremlins that have plagued him in recent years on the biggest stages and park in victory lane.
Back-to-back wins in early September at the sixth-mile dirt oval have Kvapil confident he can contend, even amid a field of more than 100 entries – the largest car count for any event in Millbridge history.
“We’ve been testing and tuning with Factor 1 all year, pretty much,” Kvapil said. “The guys have been working on the car, trying to make it a little better on the top and bottom, not just the top. I do think a little bit of our test and tuning is probably going to help, because the bottom seems like it’s doing pretty well. I think we have a pretty good shot.
“We’ve been one of the fastest guys all year long. So I guess we’ll wait and see what happens.”
While Kvapil has routinely been tops in the track’s 30-lap weekly features this year, the KKM Giveback Classic will feature and extra-distance, 67-lap main event, a nod to Keith Kunz’s iconic car number.
That means more wear and tear on equipment, as well as more time – potentially – up on the outside cushion, a place Kvapil likes to run whenever he can at Millbridge.
“If we’re ripping the fence, it’s going to be pretty hard over 67 laps … because in a 30-lapper, you’ll be up top for say 15 of them, but now you’ve got to more than double it. Then, if you’re only hitting the wall half the time, that’s 30 times against the wall and even more stress on the rear end that could cause stuff to break,” explained Kvapil. “We’ll just have to be more careful if we’re all on the fence.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if I see maybe half the guys drop out from damage from the wall Wednesday, to be completely honest with you,” Kvapil added. “I think it could be a good bit of attrition.”
Despite a deep field of veteran stars, NASCAR invaders and local talent, Kvapil believes he and the Factor 1 team should be able to fight their way into the 24-car starting field come Wednesday night.
“We really should be able to get in. We’re really fast. We’ve been fast this year,” Kvapil noted. “Yeah, we’ve won a few races, but it’s true that you never know really. You don’t really know how you stack up when you’re running against 90 or 100 cars. You just have to make sure you don’t mess up.
“You want to make sure you’re smooth and consistent and nothing happens, and if we do that I think we’ll be alright.”
Should Kvapil manage to win Wednesday’s KKM Giveback Classic feature, he’ll have a choice of either $15,000 or a base winner’s share of $5,000 and a guaranteed ride in the 2021 Chili Bowl with KKM.
In Kvapil’s eyes, there’s no question what choice he’s making.
“I want the Chili Bowl ride,” he said with a grin.
And after a disappointing and grinding end to his All American 400 super late model run on Sunday evening, that Chili Bowl seat would be a welcomed bright spot amid a chilly fall stretch for Kvapil.