“I Don’t Know What I’m Doing Wrong”- Dale Earnhardt Jr Painfully Admits Late Model Inferiority Amidst Icebreaker Heartache

Published 02/10/2024, 7:26 PM EST

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Just a short time ago, NASCAR enthusiasts watched Kade Brown cross the finish line first in the South Carolina 400 at Florence Motor Speedway. Now, the buzz of late-model racing is stirring up Florence. Last season, Dale Earnhardt Jr hit the track at Florence thrice, with his best shot landing him in 16th place during the IceBreaker. This year, he was all fired up to climb higher up the ranks.

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Meanwhile, Dale Earnhardt Jr cruised into 4th place, while the spotlight shone on Carson Kvapil, the reigning champ of the CARS Tour Late Model Stock and a hotshot from JR Motorsports, who took home the trophy. A gutted Dale Earnhardt Jr couldn’t hold back and instead was seen airing his thoughts after yet another nail-biting effort to snag the win.

Dale Earnhardt Jr did better but wasn’t good enough

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Last time around, Junior clocked in at 18th, but this year, Carson Kvapil turned the tables by clinching the win in the 125-lap Late Model Stock showdown. Kvapil managed to keep Connor Hall at bay in the final stretch, weaving through the backmarkers to beat Hall to the punch by a whisker. For Dale Earnhardt Jr, landing in fourth place and watching his teammate bask in the glory was a silver lining after last year’s rough ride.

Despite starting from 13th on the grid, Jr felt that was the only chink in his armor, keeping him from mixing it up with the front-runners. He gave it his all to dash to the podium and came tantalizingly close. With the laps winding down, he pulled out all the stops, aiming for a victory lap. He confessed that they just came up a little short. Nonetheless, he was grateful for the turnaround in performance.

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“You so badly want to win races, but it’s such a tough crowd, and when you don’t do it every week, that really shows up in qualifying. I don’t know what I’m doing wrong or need to do differently. Like anything else, you just need to do it more to be good at it. To come here and run 3–4 weeks in a single week, you can’t expect to win a lot of races against all the guys who do this every week,” Eranhardt Jr mused.

 

Hopping behind the wheel just a few times a year, the biggest challenge for Earnhardt Jr was apparently shaking off the rust from his break. Seeing his team’s car in victory lane while he settled for fourth must have been a mix of pride and longing. As for Carson Kvapil, Earnhardt Jr’s protégé, luck was on his side, with a top-notch ride at his disposal.

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Carson Kvapil, JR Motorsports driver, was quick to tip his hat to spotter Brett Edwards in the winner’s circle, along with the entire crew, especially after the rough ride they had at last year’s Icebreaker.

Kvapil shared, “Coming off last year’s run we had here, it was really great to have a good run, even better to have a win. The guys gave me a good car. We felt we prepared pretty well for this race. Practiced throughout the day yesterday really good and made some gains on it. We made it better every run. We felt like maybe we weren’t there on speed, but how the car drove felt really good.”

Dale Earnhardt Jr Gearing Up for His First Race of 2024 at the Florence Icebreaker

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He snatched the lead from Casey Kelley after a restart with 21 laps on the clock, stretching his advantage to about a second. However, as Kvapil wove through the backmarkers, that gap began to shrink. Kvapil added, “The spotter was helping me out quite a bit.”  

 

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Written by:

Neha Dwivedi

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Neha Dwivedi is a NASCAR Writer at EssentiallySports. As a journalist, she religiously believes in the power of research, which allows her readers to dive deep into her stories and experience the detailed nuances of the sport like never before. Being proficient with Core Sport and Live Event Coverage, she has written multiple copies on the top entities of Stock Car Racing, like Denny Hamlin, Chase Elliott, and Tony Stewart.
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Edited by:

Shivali Nathta

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