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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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ASHLEY ASKS…… L.P. Dumoulin

With three wins and 12 top-10’s in 13 races, L.P. Dumoulin was able to take home his second career NASCAR Pinty’s Series Championship. POPULAR SPEED recently caught up with the Quebec driver to get his thoughts on the accomplishments.

POPULAR SPEED: What are your thoughts on the championship?

L.P. DUMOULIN: It’s just awesome. It’s been a really good year for us, and we’re super proud of it, and I mean it’s the second championship with WeatherTech. We signed a three-year contract in July during the Toronto Grand Prix and we win the championship the same year so it’s a great way to celebrate the three year contract.

PS: The season didn’t come easy by any stretch. Starting off the finale in 19th, what was going through your mind at that time?

LP: You win as a team and you lose a team. We had some problems during qualifying. We started the pressure too low for qualifying that you usually use for the race, so we had a misunderstanding with that tire pressure so it slowed the qualification lap down a lot itself, but as well it gets the car too low so you can’t go through tech with that. So that’s why we had to start dead last.

Having that said, I knew we had a good car to fight up front so at that point, I was like, ‘Let’s work our way back up and see what’s going to happen’. As I told a lot of people, the championship was a big fight with the 18 (Alex Tagliani), but within the top-six or seven in the championship, there was a lot of fighting. It wasn’t just about me and the 18; there were a lot of people on track fighting, so we had to deal with all those guys. So I mean, starting dead last was one thing, but I thought let’s be fast and smart, and be there for the end of the race.

Tagliani, at one point, I saw he didn’t have the speed and we had the speed, so I thought we were in good shape to fight with this guy and that’s what we did. At one point actually, my car was fast enough to finish on the podium, so I give it to my team for giving me a car to fight with. So one point I saw Tagliani was in trouble and I had the car to finish on the podium, but all I had to do was manage the race and finish in front of him and that’s what I did and got the big trophy.

PS: What was the biggest highlight for you?

LP: All the wins for sure. I think the western trip knowing we had a strong oval car and we were in good shape to win races was probably the biggest highlight. Every weekend we showed up, whether road courses or ovals, we knew we were capable of being steady on the podium and steady contending for the win. Once we went to Saskatoon and Edmonton, we came to Trois Rivieres leading the championship knowing we were strong on both ends and that made me feel pretty confident.

PS: One of the landmark moments were the New Hampshire race. What are your thoughts in seeing the series head south of the border for the first time?

LP: I loved it. I mean, my car wasn’t fast. We weren’t fast enough over there, but I loved it. It’s great to go to Loudon and I wish we keep going there every year. Being a road course guy, as well, I wish we could go to Watkins Glen as well. We could do something like that in having one road course, one oval as that’d be awesome. Who knows what’s going to happen in the future, but I’m very happy about it. It’s a fast track. My car was loose there, and I had a big fight with Tagliani and it was clean, and it was fun.

PS: The relationship between you and crew chief Robin McCluskey seems to be right on point. Describe that to me.

LP: That’s one big think about the championship. Robin has been there forever, working on those cars for a long time. I was super proud that we could get the championship this year for our whole team, our sponsors and partners, but as well as a guy like Robin that’s been there forever. I’m super happy for him. This guy works so hard to make things happen; it’s unbelievable.

You don’t want to forget Benoit Laganière; Benoit works really closely with Robin, super hard, and I think he’s pretty much the car chief. Those two guys together do an amazing job and he’s really good on the data, working on set-up. We all work very well together and that’s the big difference there. We do off-season testing and we take the cars apart in the shop during the winter; you should see where the cars are at in the shop already. They’re all apart and we’re working on building another car as well. All in all, it’s crazy that we can make these things happen.

PS: You mentioned the extension earlier this season with WeatherTech. What does it mean in having their support?

Matthew Manor | NASCAR

LP: It means the world to us. We’ve done seven seasons together with myself, Dumoulin Competition, Bellevue, and WeatherTech and we’ve got two championships. It means the world for me, but the team as well. All those guys that work on the car all year round, but it’s fun for them and their family to know that there’s three years ahead of them. You know in racing that it’s hard to get sponsorship and it’s hard to have long run partnerships.

It’s really cool, and again it means the world for me. We’ve been doing that forever, and we’ve worked really hard to be there; it’s just proud of the relationship that I have with WeatherTech and I. I always wanted it to be a win-win relationship; they have to get something out of it, and I think WeatherTech has proved that you can get a good fall back with the investment on the car.

PS: Two-time champion in the Pinty’s Series as you mentioned. But is there a chance in seeing you drive a truck or an XFINITY car one day?

LP: I mean, yes, I would like to do it, but I would like to do it with a good car and a good team. I’ve been talking with Mario Gosselin and we’ve looked at a couple possibilities of doing something together on a road course. We’ll see how it goes, maybe it’ll happen, maybe next year, but nothing is done yet. There’s no talking right now, but yes, I would like to do it for sure.

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?

LP: I don’t know. It’s a tough one. I’m very happy with what we’ve got right now. There’s a couple things we could do on the cars, but they always try to keep it as low cost as possible so everybody can afford it. As long as we keep going to nice tracks with a good show going, I think it’s going to be great. The cost is what always keep the good racers away. I would like to go to Mount Tremblant, as well, but again very happy with what we’ve got. The schedule this past season was awesome.

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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L.P. Dumoulin Destined for Three More Seasons of Competition

TORONTO, Ontario — In a time where it can be difficult to find sponsorship, NASCAR Pinty’s Series competitor L.P. Dumoulin announced on Friday at the Honda Indy Toronto that he has signed a three-year contract extension with WeatherTech. 

“It means the world to us,” he told POPULAR SPEED. “WeatherTech has been with us for seven years now – and we’re going for three more, which is awesome. You can’t ask for better than that. it’s great for me and for my family and friends, but for my fans and everybody that has been supporting us forever. It’s great for the team – the girls and boys helping us and working like crazy to make it happen know that we will be working hard for the future in adding three years ahead of us.

“I’ve been very pleased to wear the WeatherTech jersey from day one. For a racer that started from nothing, it just means everything. You know how hard it is to be racing cars so it’s just a blessing.”

The 2014 NASCAR Pinty’s Series Champion is in the midst of his 10th season of competition, currently tied with Andrew Ranger for the points lead following a fifth-place finish in the Grand Prix of Toronto.

“We had a good one,” he said. “I think at one point, we could’ve been really aggressive on the last restart, but the plan we had didn’t work out. So we had to be cautious, but still then, we were fighting for a top-five and it’s wild out there. Everybody really wants to win, and everybody wants to get some position on a restart. So I tried to be cautious. We’re ahead in the championship and we have to smart.

“The WeatherTech Bellemare car has been good for us and we want to keep it that way. A little mistake would’ve cost us a lot there so we’ll make it better for next race out west.”

He will hope to take over the spot solely in the series’ next event, which takes place at Wyant Group Raceway in Saskatoon. Dumoulin has always been strong there, posting three top-fives in seven starts, including a victory in 2014.

“We’re confident,” he said. “The guys have worked it out really well and I think we can do a good job there on the long run at the ovals. So I’m looking forward to Saskatoon and Edmonton, and the WeatherTech Bellemare team has been doing a good job on the cars – the road course and ovals so we’ll keep digging.”

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: 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.