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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — With only three races remaining in the 2017 season, Alex Labbe is closing in on his first NASCAR Pinty's Series championship.
But first, the Victoriaville, Quebec, driver must navigator Canadian Tire Motorsport Park. Labbe heads into Sunday's Total Quartz 200 with a 36-point cushion on Kevin Lacroix.
While he's built a sizable lead late in the season, the on-track action between Labbe and Lacroix reached new heights at Riverside International Speedway two weeks ago.
Labbe and Lacroix got together on the final lap with Labbe getting Lacroix loose in Turn 4 to get him loose, make the pass and score his fourth win of the season. Lacroix took exception to the contact and hit Labbe’s car on the cool-down lap. Lacroix’s championship hopes took a hit as he was later penalized 10 driver points by NASCAR for the post-race incident.
If there’s one place that Lacroix could get the win it’s at CTMP.
The St. Eustache native has won the two most recent races at the historic road course and has won three of the four road-course events this season. While Lacroix has an uphill road to challenge Labbe for the title, he can make a big dent in the points this weekend with his third straight win at CTMP. If he does, he’ll also tie Andrew Ranger’s record of three consecutive wins at one track.
Labbe has a pole (2016) and a pair of fifth-place finishes at CTMP, including in the season opener. But he also has three finishes outside the top 20 in his other starts.
Defending champion Cayden Lapcevich enters the race third 44 points out of the lead. Lapcevich, like Labbe, is still looking for his first road-course series win. While he also needs a win or two over the final three races and for Labbe to have some bad luck, the NASCAR Next driver still have a chance to become the first back-to-back champion in the 11-year history of the series.
|RACE:||Total Quartz 200|
|PLACE:||Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, Bowmanville, Ontario|
|DATE:||Sunday, September 3|
|TIME:||11:05 a.m., ET|
|TRACK LAYOUT:||2.459-mile road course|
|2016 WINNER:||Kevin Lacroix|
|2016 POLE WINNER:||Alex Tagliani|
|EVENT SCHEDULE:||Saturday, Sept. 2 – Garage opens: 8:30 a.m.; Practice: 1:05-2 p.m.; Driver Autograph Session: 3:15-4 p.m.; Road-course qualifying: 4:40 p.m.|
|TRACK CONTACT:||Dave Drimmie, (416) 835-6601, firstname.lastname@example.org|
|NASCAR IMC CONTACT:||Jason Christley, (386) 310-6094, email@example.com.|
The Race: The Total Quartz 200 will be 11 of 13 races on the 2017 NASCAR Pinty’s Series schedule. It is the second of two stops at CTMP, and the final of five road-course events on this season’s schedule.
The Procedure: The maximum starting field is 34 cars, including provisionals. The first 27 cars will secure starting positions based on the road-course qualifying process. The remaining five spots will be awarded through the provisional process. The race will be 51 laps (125.4 miles / 200 kilometers).
The Track: The 2.459-mile road course originally opened in 1961 as Mosport Park. The venue originally also included an oval track. Andrew Ranger won the inaugural NASCAR Pinty’s Series event in June of 2007, and the track’s road course has held two series events annually since 2013. The track was renamed from Mosport International Raceway to Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in February 2012. It held the inaugural NASCAR Camping World Truck Series event on Sept. 1, 2013.
Race Winners: There have been seven different winners in the 15 previous NASCAR Pinty’s Series races at CTMP. The last five events have featured four different winners. J.R. Fitzpatrick has five wins and Andrew Ranger three. All three of Ranger’s wins have come in the Victoria Day Weekend race. Kevin Lacroix has won the past two events at CTMP and will go after his third this weekend.
Pole Winners: Seven different drivers have won the pole. Ranger with six and Steckly with two are the only two drivers with multiple pole awards. Alex Tagliani set the track record at 106.952 mph in qualifying for this race last September’s race.
Total Quartz 200 Notes:
ANDRETTI RETURNS TO ACTION: After driving from the rear of the field twice to score his first podium finish in July during the Pinty’s Grand Prix in Toronto, Adam Andretti returns to compete in the series for the first time since his third-place show. Andretti, who’ll drive an entry for four-time series champion Scott Steckly, fought his way through the field during the final third of the race to finish third and has made numerous starts at CTMP in other racing divisions throughout his career.
STILL LOOKING FOR FIRST WIN: Andrew Ranger, who holds the Pinty’s Series record with 22 career wins, has yet to score a win in 2017. If he fails to score a win this year, it would be the first time since NASCAR began sanctioning the series in 2007 that the two-time series champion would finish a season winless. Ranger leads all active drivers in wins at CTMP with three victories including the inaugural NPS event at CTMP in 2007.
SEVERAL DRIVERS PULLING DOUBLE DUTY: Two-time series champion D.J. Kennington leads a trio of drivers pulling double duty this Sunday at CTMP. Kennington will join Gary Klutt and Jason Hathaway as NASCAR Pinty’s Series drivers who have announced plans to also compete in the Chevrolet Silverado 250 later Sunday afternoon. All three drivers have scored Pinty’s Series wins at CTMP (Kennington -2011; Klutt – 2015 and Hathaway – 2015) and will compete in their first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race of the season after the Total Quartz 200.
LOOKING TO END WINLESS STREAKS: D.J. Kennington, Andrew Ranger, Gary Klutt and L.P. Dumoulin are four drivers entered in the Total Quartz looking to end long winless streaks. Kennington, the only driver to start all 131 races in the history of the Pinty’s Series, last won 48 races ago in 2013, while Dumoulin last visited Victory Lane 37 events ago during his championship season in 2014. It’s been 27 starts for Klutt who won at CTMP in 2015 for his only win to date while Ranger last won in 2016 18 starts ago.