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Andrew Ranger Claims Third Series Title, Brett Taylor Scores Dramatic Maiden Win

It’s been near impossible to separate Andrew Ranger and Kevin Lacroix throughout the 2019 season.

The two drivers have traded the points lead since the season opened at CTMP in May, and entered the season finale at Jukasa Motor Speedway as the only two drivers in contention for the championship.

It was only fitting the trend continued as Ranger edged Lacroix by one position to earn his third NASCAR Pinty’s Series championship.

It was a celebration ten years in the making.

Ranger, who won the inaugural Pinty’s Series championship in 2007 at the ripe age of 20, followed that two years later with a second championship. He’s remained a dominant driver – he is the series all-time leader in wins with 28 – but has repeatedly suffered heartbreak chasing his third title.

Following four wins and a nearly perfect 2019 season, a fourth-place finish was all Ranger needed to finally return to the pinnacle of the sport.

“It’s a dream and I’m so happy for my crew,” Ranger said. “Everybody here works so hard and it’s fantastic to win our third championship. I knew that we were really fast, we knew we had to finish in front of him, and we did just that and won the championship.”

Despite leading the most laps, Kevin Lacroix would once again fall short of his maiden championship. He finished the season with two wins, but the bad luck struck again.

Lacroix started the race on the provisional pole after qualifying was rained out, and dominated the first half of the race, locking up bonus points for the most laps led. But following the halfway break, he began to fade.

“We had a fast car today,” Lacroix said. “We went for the win, so we tried an adjustment but it didn’t work out. We are just very thankful for the great season that we had.”

As Lacroix fell back, it was the pair of EHR Team Orange drivers who saw their cars jump to life. Brett Taylor and Jason Hathaway battled for the last quarter of the race, treating fans to one of the most high-intensity battles of the season. As the laps wore down, Taylor tried everything he could to get around his teammate: he did just that in the most dramatic way possible.

On the final lap, in the final corner, Taylor made his move. Putting the bumper to Hathaway, the Calgary, Alberta driver lead only one lap all evening: the most important one. Scoring his first career Pinty’s Series win, Taylor would make history in the process.

“[Jason] gave me enough room on the bottom to race him clean,” Taylor said. “I was super loose and every time I got to his door I had to back off cause I didn’t want to blow a tire.

“In the end, all I had to do was give him a little bit of a bump,” Taylor added.

With the victory, Taylor becomes the first Western Canadian driver to win in the Pinty’s Series –158 of the first 159 races were won by drivers from Ontario and Quebec, with Donald Chisholm (Nova Scotia) the previous outlier.

Hathaway would come home second, just over a tenth of a second behind Taylor. Donald Theetge finished third in his final start as a full-time driver.

Ranger and Lacroix completed the top five.  Pete Shepherd III finished sixth after having to start at the rear, with Alex Guenette, who was subbing for Alex Tagliani coming home in seventh.

D.J Kennington, Mathieu Kingsbury and LP Dumoulin would complete the top ten.

The Pinty’s Fall Brawl will air on TSN on Sunday, Oct. 6 at 12:30 p.m. and on RDS2 on Sunday, Oct. 20 at 12:30 p.m.

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Andrew Ranger Steals Dramatic Victory in New Hampshire

LOUDON, NH — In a season that has seen one of the series’ most intense championship battles to-date, Andrew Ranger entered New Hampshire in a must win situation.

Though he trailed Kevin Lacroix by only two points, New Hampshire was a track where Lacroix has been nothing short of dominant.

In both qualifying and practice, Lacroix picked up right where he had left off last year in terms of speed. In a league of his own all weekend, the 30-year old won the pole and appeared almost untouchable. Leading the first 92 laps, everything changed when Ranger and Alex Labbe began to close the gap.

Following a dramatic final 10 laps, Andrew Ranger was able to steal the victory in the Visit New Hampshire 100 claiming his fourth win of the season and series leading 28th of his career.

“Yesterday we had some problems with the car and I wasn’t too comfortable with the car,” said Ranger. “We came into the pits to get fuel and make an adjustment, after that my car was a rocket.”

Despite starting in the back after pitting for fuel on the first caution, Ranger battled his way through the field. Charging past everyone he came across, he caught the back bumper of Lacroix with about 15 to go. Lap after lap, the Roxton Pond, Quebec driver tried everything he could to get around Lacroix.

With eight laps to go, Ranger’s N0.27 MOPAR Dodge made the pass and checked out holding on for the win.

When claiming the checkered in Loudon, Andrew Ranger has won at every active track in the Pinty’s Series.

“Lap after lap we were catching Kevin Lacroix,” Ranger added. “We made the pass and got the win, so I’m very happy for my MOPAR team and now we are the points leader.”

After losing the lead, Lacroix was locked in a tight battle for second with Labbe. The two fought side by side before making contact coming to the checkered. Lacroix spun into the inside wall, coming to rest a mere 100 feet from the finish. Following the accident, Lacroix was checked and release from in the infield care centre, declining to comment.

Following a dominant performance last race at Saint-Eustache, Alex Labbe rode the momentum into New Hampshire. Having driven twice before in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, he held on for a runner up finish. Labbe would also notch his sixth top-five of 2019 and best his finish of the season.

“We needed this cause we’ve struggled all year,” said Labbe. “We had really good speed today but [Andrew] Ranger was the class of the field today on the long runs. We finished and we’re very happy.”

D.J Kennington has had a very consistent 2019 season. Qualifying on the outside of the front row, he would score a third place finish. Kennington’s Castrol Edge Dodge heads into Jukasa next week as the defending winner.

Last year’s runner up finisher Peter Shepherd III and Marc-Antoine Camirand would complete the top five.

Cole Powell and Alex Guenette finished sixth and seventh, respectively.

Mathieu Kingsbury, LP Dumoulin and Anthony Simone rounded out the top ten.

Following the Visit New Hampshire 100, Andrew Ranger will carry an 11-point advantage over Lacroix heading into the Pinty’s Fall Brawl at Jukasa September 28.

Fans can watch the Visit New Hampshire 100 on TSN on Sunday, Sept. 29 at 1 p.m and on RDS2  Sunday, Oct. 13 at 1 p.m.

The NASCAR Pinty’s Series will close out their season next week at the Jukasa Motor Speedway, where a champion will be crowned. Will Ranger pull ahead to claim his third championship or will Kevin Lacroix rally back to steal his first?

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Andrew Ranger Dominates a Wet and Wild Race Edmonton Show

Andrew Ranger left for the western swing with goal in mine: dominate. Following two standout races in Saskatoon, Ranger came into Edmonton looking to finish the job.

Ranger took care of that Saturday in dominating fashion by winning the LUXXUR 300 at Edmonton International Raceway. With rain a factor once again, Ranger’s No.27 Mopar Dodge wasted no time taking the lead from LP Dumoulin on lap 228.

As cautions came out and restarts were ran, Ranger continued to fend off all who opposed him. In the end, the rain came down and NASCAR was forced to call the race on lap 275. The Roxton Pond, Quebec driver lead 253 laps en-route his 27th career NASCAR Pinty’s Series victory.

Ranger ended his western swing with two wins, a third place finish and the points lead.

Since returning to the Pinty’s Series full-time Jason Hathaway has been stringing together good runs. With the rain closing in, Hathaway made a march to front. Mounting pressure until the rains came, the No.3 Kubota Canada Chevrolet would finish second. This marked the Stouffville, Ontario driver’s first podium of the season and highest finish since winning at Kawartha in 2016.

Saskatoon race one winner LP Dumoulin was another driver with a successful western swing. The Trois-Rivieres, Quebec driver  came home third after a strong run at the track he won at last year. Dumoulin will leave Edmonton with momentum carrying into this his home tack at GP3R in August.

Alex Labbe and Donald Theetge brought their battered cars home fourth and fifth, completing the top five.

Marc-Antoine Camirand and Kevin Lacroix were sixth and seventh respectively. Alex Tagliani, Anthony Simone and D.J Kennington rounded out the top ten finishers.

Following the LUXXUR 300, Andrew Ranger will enter the next event with an 18 point lead over Kevin Lacroix. The NASCAR Pinty’s Series will be back in action August 10 and 11 when they go to the iconic Grand Prix Trois-Rivieres for the Les 50 Tours Hotel Le Concorde.

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LP Dumoulin and Andrew Ranger Win Big in Saskatoon

SASKATOON, Sask. — The NASCAR Pinty’s Series began it’s annual Western Swing with a trip to Wyant Group Raceway in Saskatoon. With heavy rains in the forecast, the fans knew they would be in for show.

LP Dumoulin and Andrew Ranger came to Saskatoon with one goal in mind: win. Doing so in completely different fashions, both drivers tasted victory in the Velocity Prairie Thunder Twins 125s.

One breaking an eight race winless streak, while the other took command of the Pinty’s Series points standings.

The first 125 lap feature saw the drivers not just racing each other, but the wrath of Mother Nature. With the the looming threat of rain on the horizon, every position mattered. Kevin Lacroix came out of the gate surging, leading the first 83 laps the No.74 car was on rails, that is until LP Dumoulin got to his back bumper.

Dumoulin’s No.47 WeatherTech Canada/ Bellemare Dodge used the bumper to get past Lacroix, pulling out to a a few car lengths leads before the rains hit. On Lap 166 a massive storm swept through Saskatoon, bring thunder and lightning with it. In the end, NASCAR officially declared Dumoulin the victor of Race No.1. This marked Dumoulin’s eighth career win and second at Saskatoon.

“It’s really really a great moment for the WeatherTech/Bellemare car, we were leading there with I think 9 laps remaining” Dumoulin said. “The car was fast, we had to get through a couple cars in traffic but still every time we were just by ourselves the digging some laps, we felt like were in a very good position to win it.

Kevin Lacroix finished second, with Andrew Ranger completing the podium. Alex Labbe and Jason Hathaway rounded out the top five.

Brett Taylor and Donald Theetge were sixth and seventh. Jamie Krzysik, Marc-Antoine Camirand and Mark Dilley were the rest of the top ten.

Following the torrential downpour, race No.2 got underway under the lights. With the Saskatoon race fans packing the grand stands, NASCAR was committed to giving them a show. By virtue of the quickest lap time in race No.1, Andrew Ranger was on pole for race No.2.

Ranger’s speed showed early dominating the early stages of the race, but it would end up being a two horse battle for the win. Ranger’s teammate D.J Kennington stayed locked to the back bumper of Ranger for most of the night.

In the end, nobody could catch Ranger who would go on to score his 26th series win.

“Oh it was an awesome race, with my teammate DJ Kennington, to have a nice battle together” Ranger said. “I want to thank all of my crew, the Mopar guys did a great job, they’ve been working very hard. We finished third in the first race and first on the second race. So it’s fantastic, I’m very happy about my team and we’re going to Edmonton on Saturday.”

Kennington would settle for second despite leading 20 laps. With a standout performance, Brett Taylor can now call himself a NASCAR podium finisher. Taylor brought his EHR Team Orange No.46 home third, his best career finish.

LP Dumoulin and Kevin Lacroix rounded out the top five. 22 Racing teammates Alex Tagliani and Donald Theetge were sixth and seventh. Jamie Krzysik, Marc-Antoine Camirand and Alex Labbe were the rest of the top ten.

The race also marked the 100th career start of CBRT driver Jason White, White was honoured with a signed flag following the race.

The next race will be Saturday July 28, where the Series will take on Edmonton International Raceway.

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Andrew Ranger Wins at Jukasa, Takes Points Standings Lead

HAGERSVILLE, Ont —For Andrew Ranger, it was weekend of dominance.

The NASCAR Pinty’s Series winningest driver scored his 25th career pole Saturday before dominating the rain-delayed APC 200 at Jukasa Motor Speedway. The 32-year-old driver from Roxton Pond, Quebec led a race-high 82 laps, extending his series-leading win total to 25.

Ranger took his No.27 MOPAR/ Pennzoil Dodge to the lead on Lap 122, passing Peter Shepherd III. After surviving two late restarts, Ranger held off a hard charging Kevin Lacroix in NASCAR Overtime to claim his first win since Toronto in 2018.

“You know, we were a top 10 driver that could win here so I was definitely nervous,” Ranger said. “But again, we decided to do the restart on the inside and it worked pretty good for us and we exit here with a nice win.”

Last year’s race winner Kevin Lacroix used the late restart to his advantage to claim the runner-up spot. The finishing order was reversed from the season-opening race at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, where Lacroix held off Ranger.

“The car is always good on long runs and we were hoping for the same today and that’s what happened,” Lacroix said. “We were able to have a good race and put the Bumper to Bumper car in second place and that’s good.”

Peter Shepherd III ran a solid race leading 25 laps and scoring his second podium finish since his return to the series last year.

LP Dumoulin and Alex Tagliani rounded out the top five.

Marc-Antoine Camirand and Mark Dilley both pulled off last race charges to the front, coming home sixth and seventh, respectively.

After leading 68 laps, and despite blowing a tire late in the race, D.J. Kennington was able to fight back and finish eighth. Jason White and Donald Theetge completed the top ten.

Lap 72 will go down in NASCAR Pinty’s Series history as the race leader upon completion was Julia Landauer. She becomes the first women to ever lead a lap in the NASCAR Pinty’s Series. She ran up front throughout the race before a late-race incident left her 15th.

With his win, Ranger takes over the lead in the standings, leading Lacroix by one point.. ] LP Dumoulin is in third, 10 points back, and Alex Tagliani and D.J Kennington are tied for fourth, 18 points out of the lead.

The NASCAR Pinty’s Series will take a few weeks off before returning to action Saturday, June 29 for the Budweiser 300 at Autodrome Chaudiere in Vallee-Jonction, Quebec.

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ASHLEY ASKS…… Andrew Ranger

After scoring a pair of victories last season, Andrew Ranger will be back with DJK Racing, running the full NASCAR Pinty’s Series schedule vying for his second career championship.

The Quebec native recently spoke with POPULAR SPEED about his thoughts entering the year, and more.

POPULAR SPEED: What are your thoughts entering the season?

ANDREW RANGER: I’m very, very happy to start another season with Mopar. It’s great. We’ve been together for the last six or seven years, so it’s awesome. It’s a great company to work with. I have a lot of fun racing in the NASCAR Pinty’s Series. We’ve got a lot of wins, and it’s a great series. We’re racing across Canada, and have a lot of fun with that.

PS: What are the goals and expectations?

ANDREW: The goal is to like everybody, to win the championship at the end, but we’ve improved ourselves the last three years. We’ve been very, very fast. I think now we have all the puzzle to finish the races, have fun, and gain a lot of points, and see where we’re at the end. Every time we go on the track, we have a good chance to win the race and the championship.

PS: What track are you most looking forward to?

ANDREW: The schedule is big, but at the same isn’t. It’s 13 races so you can’t miss your shot. All the races are very important, but every time we race in Quebec in front of my family, friends, girlfriend, it’s a race that I want to do well. But Toronto is always a track that I like, and I really want to win again this year there.

PS: What do you feel that you could have done better last year to run even stronger?

ANDREW: I think we were very strong every race, just so bad luck – mechanical, but I think we fixed that during the winter. Every time that we broke, we were either P3 or P2 – top-three anyway, so we proved that we were fast and I think the goal this year to finish our races and try to be in the top-five every weekend.

PS: How much is it a benefit for you in being able to work alongside with D.J. Kennington?

ANDREW: D.J. is the car owner, but I’ve been working with David Wright; he’s my crew chief. So every time we go to the track, yes D.J. is there, but we would work together if we have some stuff to share. But to be honest with you, we do our little thing with my crew chief, and it’s been working very good for the last three years.

But it’s always fun to work with D.J. and have a nice battle on the track, and try to prove ourselves.

PS: What are your thoughts on the current state of the NASCAR Pinty’s Series?

ANDREW: I really think the series is very, very tough. You can say the top-10 can win any week so it’s fun to go there and you never know where you’re going to finish, but it’ll be a good fight to the end. All of the races are very important. What’s great about the series is we race across Canada, so we race in Toronto, in Quebec City, Nova Scotia, Edmonton and Saskatoon, so it’s awesome.

We have a lot of good fans no matter where we are. I don’t know how many thousands we have at Mosport (Canadian Tire Motorsports Park), Toronto, Trois-Riveres – but those are very important in racing in front of big crowds like that. I really like the series, and I think every year the series improves. I know we have a little bit of problem in having drivers at oval tracks, but little by little, I think they’re helping the drivers to find sponsors which is good.

PS: The Pinty’s Series has so many positives right now. But what is one change you feel they can make to improve the series even more?

ANDREW: It’s tough to say. We like NASCAR, and NASCAR is very important for the series, but I think the problem with the series is maybe because we race across Canada, too. It makes our budget bigger, and bigger. I like to go race in Saskatoon and Edmonton as it’s great to race there, but at the same time with our small series, it costs so much to go there with flight expenses to bring all the guys, and the hotels. Those things make our budget explode and I don’t know if they can change something on the schedule, but that may be one thing to change.

PS: We’ve seen drivers trying different series and cars. Is there anything on your bucket list?

ANDREW: The last three years, I’ve been staying in the NASCAR Pinty’s Series and I have a lot of fun with that. I have another company in Quebec so I’m not looking to do more races. If I have some opportunity, yes, but I have to bring money, then I don’t want. I’ve been fighting many years with that and to work with Mopar is great. I need to think just about my business and go on the track and fight every weekend and have a lot of fun with that.

So to me, if I maybe have another opportunity to go in the States, I would take it, but if I need to bring sponsorship, that’s not the case.

EMAIL ASHLEY AT ashley.mccubbin@popularspeed.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER: @ladybug388

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

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OBSERVATIONS: Pinty’s Grand Prix of Toronto

TORONTO, Ontario — The Pinty’s Grand Prix of Toronto  always produces exciting racing for the NASCAR Pinty’s Series, with contact and close racing from the start of the event to the checkered. This year’s edition was no different as we look back at the action that took place.

Alex Tagliani was clearly the man to beat, as he set the quickest lap in qualifying and was set on his own pace from the drop of the green flag. If there wasn’t a late-race yellow flag, he would’ve been celebrating a win in victory lane. However, it wasn’t meant to be.

When you have a Green-White-Checkered on a street course, you’re bound for excitement and the Pinty’s Grand Prix of Toronto was no different. Andrew Ranger practically put together what will probably be the move of the season, perfecting the crossover as the field headed into turn one, getting the run on the inside of Tagliani to grab the lead and set on cruise control. J.F. Dumoulin tried to follow him through, but contact prevented that from happening.

The damage to Tagliani’s No. 18 Chevrolet from that probably prevented him from making a late-race charge on Ranger and you have to wonder what would’ve happened if he would’ve caught back up to him. But alas, Tagliani got himself a second-place finish while Ranger celebrated the victory. Dumoulin was able to finish third, marking a stellar performance as he continues to get better with more laps under his belt.

The other feel-good stories have to be James Vance and Pete Shepherd overcoming adversity to score top-10’s, with Vance sixth and Shepherd in 10th. Both drivers were involved in separate incidents during the day, but yet never gave up and made their way to the front at the end.

ALSO: See Pete Shepherd’s thoughts on the day.

On the flip side, Anthony Simone is probably wondering what if. After pacing the series’ lone practice session, he was biding his time in a top-five when a broken rear axle took him out out of the running just seven laps into the event. 

Kevin Lacroix won the event last year, but he started off the weekend on a sour note and it just went downhill from there. During qualifying on Friday, he suffered a crash, with his No. 74 Dodge sustaining heavy damage. He would borrow a car from Scott Steckly and 22 Racing, and tried to battle his way forward on Saturday, but ultimately crashed with five laps to go.

The incident dropped him in the championship standings to seventh, 22 points behind co-point leader Ranger and L.P. Dumoulin. With over half of the schedule to go, it’s anybody guess who will walk away with the title with how close the standings are, and the fact some competitors find strength on ovals, others on the road courses. if you add in the mixture of veterans and young talent, it’s going to be interesting right until the end of the season at Jukasa Motor Speedway.

EMAIL ASHLEY AT ashley.mccubbin@popularspeed.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER:@ladybug388

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

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Andrew Ranger Celebrates Third Toronto Victory

TORONTO, Ont — Ever since Andrew Ranger broke his 22-race winless drought last time out at Autodrome Chaudiere, he has been nothing short of dominant. He continued his strong start to the season by winning the Pinty’s Grand Prix of Toronto Saturday at Exhibition Place.

Ranger’s No.27 Mopar/Pennzoil Dodge raced nose to tail with Alex Tagliani all race long before making a bold move to take the lead during NASCAR Overtime. Ranger was able to pass Tagliani in Turn 1 on the restart and score his third win on the 1.755-mile street course and second consecutive victory this season.

The 31-year-old driver from Roxton Pond, Quebec also padded the margin in his all-time series wins total in the NASCAR Pinty’s Series. His win on the streets of Toronto extends his win total to 24 career wins.

Polesitter Alex Tagliani lead from the drop of the green flag until being passed on Lap 36, the first lap of NASCAR Overtime. Tagliani battled hard with JF Dumoulin and wound up finishing second despite suffering heavy body damage, notching his second podium finish of 2018.

JF Dumoulin finished third, scoring his second career podium finish and first since the Clarington 200 at Canaidian Tire Motorsport Park in 2015.

Gary Klutt and LP Dumoulin completed the top five with Marc-Antoine Camirand and Josten’s Rookie of the Year candidate James Vance finishing sixth and seventh, respectively.

D.J Kennington, Donald Theetge and Peter Shepherd III rounded out the top 10.

Last year’s winner Kevin Lacroix’s bad weekend continued after he made contact with barrier in Turn 5. Ending his day early and bringing out the caution that forced NASCAR Overtime.

With this win Andrew Ranger sits tied with LP Dumoulin with 167 points, Ranger takes the points lead based on his two victories this season. Marc-Antoine Camirand sits third -9, followed by Powell and Kennington -14.

The Pinty’s Grand Prix of Toronto will air Saturday, July 21 on TSN at 2:30 p.m. ET and Tuesday, July 17 on RDS2 at 10:30 p.m. ET.

The NASCAR Pinty’s Series will move on to Saskatoon for the first stop on the annual west coast swing for the Velocity Prairie Thunder Twin 125’s sponsored by Bayer CropScience at Wyant Group Raceway.

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OBSERVATIONS: Rankin Construction 200 at Jukasa Motor Speedway

This past Saturday night, the NASCAR Pinty’s Series headed to Jukasa Motor Speedway for the second event of the 2018 campaign. After taking some time to reflect about the action, here are some observations to carry forward into the rest of the year.

– While some of the Pinty’s Series races have gotten strung out over the years with a lack of passing, that wasn’t the case on Saturday night. There were battles throughout the field, including a mid-race four-way battle for third, and the battle near the end of the event for second. The wide, fresh paved surface on the half-mile at Jukasa is certainly friendly for these guys. 

Kevin Lacroix‘s domination in leading 128 of 206 laps is no surprise. While he started off as a road course master, he has grown stronger at the ovals with more experience, as noted by a pair of poles last year. After a runner-up in last year’s standings, he entered this year as the championship favorite.

Now knowing he can win at an oval, combined with four road course victories in 2017, he should be the driver to beat all year.

Cole Powell‘s runner-up may have surprised many within the NASCAR community as a rookie, but for those who have watched him over the past several years, it was nothing like that.

The Mount Brydges, Ontario driver has past experience in the United States, competing in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour and ARCA, including a third-place finish at Talladega Superspeedway in 2013. He has also shown his strength in Ontario, winning Pro Late Model events and an OSCAAR Modified feature at Kawartha Speedway.

Now seeing him take his talents to the premiere tour in Canada with success, it was expected that he would do well on the ovals, based on his own ability and Ed Hakinson Racing’s history with Jason Hathaway. The only concern was whether he would perform on the road courses with a lack of experience, but he weathered the storm with a sixth-place finish in the season opener at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park.

– Seeing new faces in the series is always a good sign as it gives hope for higher car counts in the future.

Connor James made his NASCAR debut at Jukasa Motor Speedway, running solidly in the top-10 throughout the event without a scratch on the car en route to a 10th-place finish.

The jump up to the premiere series comes following success in the Lucas Oil Sportsman Cup and in Sunset Speedway’s Late Model division. While he is set on running for rookie of the year at the Innisfil, Ontario oval, he has expressed interest in running more events this season if the sponsorship comes about. 

– This year marks the first season for stage racing in the Pinty’s Series. Like the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, their races will be split into two or three segments, but feature a five-minute break rather than a normal caution period. The one surprise, though, was a lack of strategy under the second break.

The first caution saw five lead-lap drivers stay out and six competitors make pit stops, while the second yellow flag resulted in everybody pitting. While there was an ability to pass with drivers moving up and down the scoring pylon, track position was important if you ask Lacroix. The varying strategies from the first caution did not ultimately affect the final running order, with drivers on both mixed throughout the top-10.

Now if someone would’ve elected to stay out under the second yellow, could they have held off the field, or scored a better finish than where they ended up? Seeing a bigger variety of strategies moving forward could make these rules more interesting.

– Knowing when there is going to be a caution can work out to be an advantage if you have an ill-handling car or a problem.

L.P. Dumoulin used this to his advantage as he had a tire go down, dropping debris on the track for the yellow flag at Lap 146. He continued to roll around scattering more of the tire around the speedway until they called the break four laps later before pitting. By staying out until then, he was able to keep himself on the lead lap. Now he had to pit shortly after they went back to green due to damage, but he got the lucky dog under the next yellow flag, and fought back for a seventh-place finish. 

Andrew Ranger did the same thing in a different way, too. He knew he had a tire going down as you could see him getting sideways through the corner, but stayed on-track until it finally let go and dropped debris with 17 laps to go. He was able to make his pit stop under the caution, working his way back up to place fifth. 

Recall that time in the Cup Series when Clint Bowyer spun on purpose to get Martin Truex Jr. in the playoffs and penalties were laid down from the sanctioning body for the maneuver following an event. Certainly both these situations are not as extreme at what Michael Waltrip Racing did at Richmond Raceway, but this is still manipulating the race for your own advantage and worthy of a penalty. If you’re going to have someone purposely drawing a yellow, then they should be held a lap on pit road so they don’t reap the benefits of their behavior.

EMAIL ASHLEY AT ashley.mccubbin@popularspeed.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER:@ladybug388

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

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PINTY’S SERIES: Lacroix Dominates Toronto; Fellow Contenders Find Trouble

TORONTO, Ontario — The Pinty’s Grand Prix had a familiar name on the top step of the podium following the 35-lap event on Saturday at the Honda Indy Toronto, as Kevin Lacroix dominated en route to his second straight series victory.

After an action packed race which saw new faces up front and contenders find trouble, here are some observations.

Lacroix Dominates

Kevin Lacroix has always been quick on the streets of Toronto, as evident by his podium finish last season. This year after qualifying up front, he took the lead on Lap 7 and did not look back from there as he led the rest of the way.

The driver of the No. 74 Dodge did not go unchallenged, though, as Marc- Antoine Camirand was right on his bumper through the middle portion of the event. However, a mistake by Camirand resulted in him crashing his No. 22 Dodge into the wall with six laps to go.

Being a road/street course expect, Lacroix has showcased his ability to date, winning all three events this season so far. And although ovals are not his specialty, he has still been solid with a fifth-place finish at Delaware Speedway, followed by a sixth at Autodrome Chaudiere.

“I think we’re having a good season with three wins, a fifth and a sixth,” he told POPULAR SPEED. “Our goal is to finish on the podium on road courses and get the most points we can and try to get a top-five on ovals. That’s what we’ve done since the beginning of the season, so it’s looking good.”

The results have benefited him well so far as he heads to Saskatoon with a 13-point advantage over Alex Labbe in the standings. Even with success to date, he admits they could be better, but it’s tough to do with the series regulations.

“We don’t have much testing before races,” he said. “So we’re not allowed to test a lot, so it’s pretty risky to try something weird in qualifying or the race, so it’s hard to get better. But I think slowly, we can get even better.”

Contenders Crash Out

Camirand was not the only contender to crash out of the Pinty’s Grand Prix, as shockingly neither Andrew Ranger or Alex Tagliani were on the podium at race’s end, either.

The pair qualified up front in the top-three with Ranger scoring the pole and Tagliani qualifying second. They also showed their speed early in the event, making up the top-two positions in the early stages. However, their battle for the lead came to a head on Lap 6.

Ranger held the top spot with Tagliani close behind. As they went into turn five, Tagliani made his move, though caught the rear bumper of Ranger and caused him to spin around. The result was heavy rear-end damage for Ranger, along with minor front end damage for Tagliani. Both drivers headed down pit road under caution for repairs, falling deep into the running order.

Ultimately, Ranger’s chances of winning were over as he went three laps down making repairs, en route to placing 15th. Meanwhile, Tagliani continued and worked his way back to the top-five, though was slowed by a mechanical problem four laps to go, finishing 14th.

Coming into Toronto, Ranger had been solid each week this season with no finishes outside of the top-nine, including a pair of runner-ups. For Tagliani, the Pinty’s Grand Prix represents just another frustrating weekend this year with bad luck following an 18th-place finish in the season opener at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park.

“We’ve been running pretty fast, always up front,” he told POPULAR SPEED. “I just need to find the right place at the right time because I think we’ve had a lot of bad luck, and domination doesn’t matter if there’s a restart as you’re exposed. Last weekend (at Circuit ICAR), we got taken out after leading 61 laps out of 75. Very disappointing, but it is what it is.”

Simone Finds Some Luck

For the longest time, fans would watch Anthony Simone and keep asking themselves the question – what will plague him today?

After all, his pair of previous trips to Toronto had resulted in finishes of 30th and 26th, including a fire last season. He also started off this season on the wrong foot, posting a pair of finishes outside of the top-10.

Though if you look at the past two weeks, perhaps Simone is finding some much-needed luck as he finished ninth at Circuit ICAR, followed by an eighth-place finish at Toronto. After qualifying in the top-10, he ran as high as third before fading back following contact on a restart and battling a loose handling car.

While the team was left wondering whether they could have done better, it marked the first time he has scored back-to-back top-10 finishes since 2010 with a pair of sevenths at Barrie Speedway and Riverside Speedway.

He will look to score his third straight top-10 at Saskatoon, where he has placed fifth and ninth in his past two events.

EMAIL ASHLEY AT ashley.mccubbin@popularspeed.com

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