Caraway creates program to lure driver commitments

SOPHIA — Caraway Speedway is putting together a program to reward drivers for their loyalty. It’s called “Caraway Strong” and the intent is to provide a more stable group of entrants for the speedway.

“We’re starting to get the response,” general manager Darren Hackett said. “I think we’re going to be OK.”

The speedway’s regular racing series begins with Sunday’s opening races in seven divisions. This is the 57th season for the track.

To be part of the “Caraway Strong” program, drivers agree to compete in every points-paying event for their division across the course of the season. The incentive will involve bonus money.

“It’s rewarding them for commitment,” Hackett said. “That’s what we’re looking for is consistency.”

Drivers involved with “Caraway Strong” will have to find replacement drivers for events they might miss. Ideally, about 15 drivers in each class would give the classes good competition and increase interest from fans, Hackett said.

The speedway’s regular classes are Late Models, Challengers, Mini Stocks, 602 Modifieds and UCARs. On opening day, there also will be races for Legends and Bandoleros.

Hackett said the 2021 season had ups and downs. “Caraway Strong” is intended to avoid the valleys, particularly after the pandemic-impacted 2020.

“It showed promise last year,” Hackett said. “But we need more promise.”

There’s the natural optimism with the launching of a new season. Concerns exist as well.

“I think things are lined up to have a good year, but these fuel prices (might be) a problem,” Hackett said.

The speedway’s schedule generally includes racing every-other Saturday night with some variations. Either way, there are usually two racing nights per month in the regular divisions along with special shows.

Racing Sunday is scheduled to begin at 2:30 p.m.

The track’s season actually began earlier this month with open practices. Then last weekend, the CARS Tour held events at the facility, with the Old North State Nationals as the main event. That race included a $30,000 prize to win in the 200-lap race Sunday, with 34 Late Model entries.

Carson Kvapil captured the Late Model Stock Car Tour for the grand prize. He was followed by Kaden Honeycutt, Jared Fryar, Jason York and Corey Heim.

Caden Kvapil won the Pro Late Model Tour in a field of 16 drivers. Luke Fenhaus was the runner-up.

The Kvapil brothers are sons of former NASCAR Truck Series champion Travis Kvapil.

By Bob Sutton