TULSA, Okla. — Carson Kvapil, a multi-time track champion in outlaw karts at North Carolina’s Millbridge Speedway, knows a thing or two about keeping his cool in high-pressure situations.
After all, he learned from his father Travis, who won the 2003 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship in one of the most hotly-contested and wild races that series has ever seen.
But the younger Kvapil stayed calm under pressure Tuesday during Warren CAT Qualifying Night at the Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals and it paid off with an appearance in his preliminary night A Main.
Kvapil rallied from a disappointing A Qualifier performance by taking the lead at the start of his 15-lap B Main. The Mooresville, N.C., teenager led all the way from there to transfer into the main event.
A 21st-place feature finish wasn’t what Kvapil hoped for, but it was admittedly more than he was expecting coming into his first attempt at the Super Bowl of Midget Racing.
“We were honestly hoping to transfer straight to the A, once we realized we had the car underneath us to do that, but I lost a spot in the qualifier and that set us back some,” Kvapil said. “It’s my first time here and my first time running the top in a midget, and I lost a position doing that. In the B Main, it was my first time on this track when it was slick and that was my first time rolling the berm in a midget.
“All in all, though, I think we did pretty well and have something that might let us make our way through on Saturday. I’m really happy, though. This has been such a cool experience so far.”
— He may be a rookie, but Daison Pursley drove like a veteran Tuesday night in salvaging his hopes of a successful first Chili Bowl appearance.
After a flip in his A Qualifier relegated Pursley to the back of a B Main, the 16-year-old Oklahoma native put on a furious rally, coming from 11th to third just to make Tuesday’s feature.
But Pursley wasn’t done. Despite a wild 30-lap main, he clawed his way from 22nd to 11th in less than 10 laps and ultimately secured a ninth-place finish aboard his Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports No. 9p.
In doing so, Pursley secured a top-five starting spot for one of Saturday’s C Mains, giving him a chance to run the alphabet and make the big show in his maiden attempt.
“Man, the driver made a big error in the heat race that put us behind the 8-ball pretty bad,” Pursley said. “The wreck in the qualifier, we shouldn’t even have been in that position. So that’s definitely on me tonight, but the team never gave up and gave me a good piece like they always do. We were able to run through the B Main and come through the A Main, too. It just sucks the way the track went the last 15 or so laps because I feel like we had a top-five car easily if we could have passed anyone.
“The driver just needs to get up on the wheel a little bit earlier and make less mistakes, but we’ve got a chance still.”
— Zach Daum wasn’t a talked-about driver Tuesday when the 30-lap feature rolled around, but Daum proved he has what it takes to be a threat during Chili Bowl week.
Daum finished third behind Larson and Meseraull, slotting him toward the front of a B Main for the alphabet soup program at the end of the week. If he can transfer into the A, it’ll be his third-straight appearance in the field for the Chili Bowl and his ninth Saturday feature start overall.
The Pocahonta, Ill., native and three-time POWRi champion has experience doing just that. He raced his way into the Chili Bowl finale last year before finishing 16th in his familiar No. 5d.
— Oklahoma’s Hank Davis, who worked with Dave Mac Motorsports for part of a season several years ago before focusing on his own driving hopes, impressed as well on Tuesday night.
Davis, 17, put together a sixth-to-first heat race run and sixth-to-third qualifier effort to secure a top-five starting spot for the main event, then proved consistent en route to an eighth-place feature finish.
That puts him in a B Main on Saturday, which will clinch his best Chili Bowl result in just his second try.
— The World Wide Technology Raceway Flip Count sits at 23 after two nights of action. It more than tripled from the Monday benchmark, after 16 cars got upside down during the Tuesday program.
All drivers walked away from their respective incidents.