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Marc-Antoine Camirand: “It’s totally my fault.”

TORONTO, Ontario — Marc-Antoine Camirand was headed towards his first victory of the 2019 campaign – and then the crash happened.

Throughout the Pinty’s Grand Prix on the streets of Exhibition Place, Camirand ran inside the top-three, battling with fellow Quebec natives Alex Tagliani and Andrew Ranger.

A late race caution set-up a restart with three to go, which worked out in Camirand’s favor. He was able to get a good run into the first corner, putting the No. 22 GM Paille Chevrolet ahead of the field.

The same lap, though, as he headed into the back half of the course, things would not go as smoothly. He would make a mistake entering the turn eight corner, slamming the tire barriers, ripping the side off of his car as he went around.

Instead of visiting victory lane on Saturday evening, he was credited with a 16th-place finish.

“The car was really good,” he told POPULAR SPEED. “22 Racing gave me an awesome car. I feel bad because it’s solely my fault. I had a good restart on Alex and took the lead. Then after that, I just missed my braking point by a little bit and I lost it. It’s totally my fault, but I’ll take the blame on it and try to go out west and win them both.”

Unfortunately, Camirand has not started the 2019 NASCAR Pinty’s Series season as he wished, currently ranked 11th in the season-long standings following just a single top-10 in the first four races.

“We have had a tough start,” he stated. “I think we can bounce back. We have character in the team and pretty sure we can bounce back, and bring a couple victories back.”

His next chance to visit victory lane with come as part of the double header in Saskatoon at Wyatt Group Raceway.

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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ASHLEY ASKS……Marc-Antoine Camirand

After scoring his first career NASCAR Pinty’s Series victory last year at St. Eustache, Marc-Antoine Camirand has confirmed that he will be back full-time in 2019 with 22 Racing to chase after the championship. The Quebec native recently spoke with POPULAR SPEED about his thoughts entering the season.

POPULAR SPEED: What are your thoughts entering the season?

MARC-ANTOINE CAMIRAND: I’m happy to be back with 22 Racing and my sponsor GM Paillé. We are looking forward to trying to win the championship. We won our first race last year at St. Eustache and this year we’re looking forward to being a championship contender.

PS: For you, do you prefer racing on the ovals or the road courses?

CAMIRAND: I’m more a road course driver, coming out of go-karts and doing Formula Kart before. But my first win ever in NASCAR was on an oval. So it’s kind of a different driving style, but I do like the road courses more being a road course driver. But, I do like the ovals as well.

PS: What track are you most looking forward to?

CAMIRAND: GP3R is always special. I’m living about half an hour away from there; it’s kind of my home track. It’s always special to race there. Many friends, my sponsor is around there so it’s always special to be back there.

PS: What do you feel that you and your team need to do to make this year stronger than last year?

CAMIRAND: Well, this year is going to be a little bit different as I lost my crew chief; Randy (Steckly) is not coming back this year. So he was really good to me on the ovals due to his experience. So this year, the first couple of races with my new crew chief Warren Jones, it’s trying to get a good chemistry between me and him to try to win the championship.

I know it will be hard as I know Jason Hathaway will be back this year, and I hear Mark Dilley is back full-time, too. So the championship will be harder than ever. I know it’s going to be hard, but with the great team of 22 Racing and GM Paillé as a sponsor, I think we can do it. We just need to be consistent to be there all the races, and try to fight for the win.

PS: What did it mean to you to break through with your first series victory at St. Eustache last year?

CAMIRAND: Well, it means a lot especially like I said, being on an oval. I know I can do it on a road course as I came close a couple times last year – Toronto and Trois-Riveries. To win my first race on an oval, my confidence was pretty good after the race. We went to New Hampshire and we did good – P2 until the last lap due to running out of fuel, but my confidence was really high.

I know I can win on the ovals and the road courses. I’ve been looking for that first win for a couple years now, and I think in 2019 I know I can win some more and be there for the championship.

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?

CAMIRAND: That’s a really good question. I know they’re working hard to improve the series and get more – maybe the thing is to get more drivers involved for the complete series. I think we have 12 guys that are running the complete championship. I know it’s tough to find the money to do the complete season, but maybe the series has to work on maybe trying to get the prize higher to run the complete season.

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

CAMIRAND: Well, I’ve done a lot and in Canada, this is the only series with the TV deal every weekend, which is good for sponsorship. We are always looking towards possibly going into the United States, and trying to do a couple starts in the Xfinity Series. But at the same time, it’s about the money and sponsorship. I’d prefer to stay here to run in Canada in the Pinty’s Series with a good sponsor, and try to run for the win every race.

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

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.