SALISBURY, N.C. – It took more than a year, but 15-year-old Ethan Mitchell finally found his way back to Race City Steel Victory Lane on Wednesday night at Millbridge Speedway.
Mitchell swept the night during the track’s penultimate week of regular-season competition, setting fast time over the 500cc Open class field, winning the division’s heat race, earning the pole after rolling a zero inversion and then driving away to lead all 20 laps of the main event in dominating fashion.
The victory was the first for the Mooresville, N.C. teenager since topping the $2,500-to-win Millbridge Showdown on Sept. 4, 2016.
“It’s been a long time getting back here, I know that, but glad to do it tonight,” Mitchell said. “This kart was super-fast. My dad and everyone at Bundy Built (Motorsports) that makes this all possible gave me a rocket ship to drive tonight.”
“I gave it everything I had the last 10 laps; I had to because of how tough these guys are,” Mitchell added. “It was a tough race, but it’s cool too because of all the work my dad has put in to taking over the retail department of JGRMX and converting it to Bundy Built. This is my first win with that branding tonight. I know how much work has gone into making that all possible, so we’re really proud of this.”
Mitchell flexed his muscle from the word go, holding a 1.151 second lead over the field at the halfway point of the race before a caution for Tyler Odendahl’s spinning kart in turn four set up a nine-lap dash.
That proved to be the only slowdown of the event, with Mitchell quickly returning to his commanding lead when the green flag returned, while class points leader Carson Kvapil nearly making a two-for-one pass on the restart to go from third to first before settling into the runner-up spot.
“Just before the last restart, I looked up at the scoreboard and saw Kvapil in third, and actually got a little worried,” Mitchell later admitted. “I just tried to get the best start I could, and when I got down there (to turn one) and saw him inside me, I just put the pedal down and hoped it was enough.”
As Mitchell pulled away, Kvapil ultimately cruised home in second, 1.078 seconds in arrears but doing more than enough to secure the Open class championship in his first full season in the division.
Kvapil will enter championship night on Nov. 1 with more than a 100-point lead over Clark Houston, clinching the crown for the No. 35 CorvetteParts.net/Keen Parts team after winning last year’s Intermediate class title.
“It’s a cool deal,” Kvapil said. “We definitely didn’t expect to be able to become champions in our first year at this level, but it’s been a great season for us. I’m proud to do this and thankful to my mom and dad, CorvetteParts.net, Keen Parts and all of our other great supporters that have made this possible.”
Houston, Tom Hubert and Branson Dils completed the top five in Wednesday night’s race.
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