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The green flag will fly Sunday on the 2018 season opener of the NASCAR Pinty's Series at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park. (Matthew Manor/NASCAR)

PIT BOX: Green Flag Flies On 2018 Season In Canada

Four events. Four different countries. And plenty of excitement.

Victoria Day Weekend also marks the unofficial kickoff of NASCAR racing in Canada. The NASCAR Pinty’s Series, the country’s national championship for stock car racing, will take the green flag on its 12th season with the Clarington 200 at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in Bowmanville, Ontario, on Sunday.

On Saturday, the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West returns to action at Orange Show Speedway, the historic quarter-mile bullring in San Bernardino, Califonia. And, across the Atlantic, the second round of the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series takes to the twists and turns of Autodromo di Franciacorta  for the NASCAR GP of Italy. Sunday, the NASCAR PEAK Mexico Series returns to El Dorado Speedway in Chihuahua for the Grand Prix Fontera.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

NASCAR Pinty’s Series

There have been seven different winners in the history of the event but no one is currently performing better at the 2.459-mile layout than Kevin LaCroix. The St. Eustache, Quebec native became the first driver to win three consecutive races at the track last fall and will try to keep his winning streak alive this Sunday.

Lacroix finished second last season in the Pinty’s Series final standings and returns for his third full-time campaign as one of the favorites to win the championship this year. Defending champion Alex Labbe moved on to compete in the NASCAR Xfinity Series which means there will be a new champion this year and Lacroix will lead a contingent of drivers expected to contend for the crown.

Previous race winners expected to join LaCroix in the first of 13-races on the 2018 schedule include previous CTMP race winners Andrew Ranger, DJ Kennington, L.P. Dumoulin and Gary Klutt.

Ranger is currently tied with LaCroix for the most wins on the 10-turn course with three including the inaugural Pinty’s Series race in 2007. Dumoulin swept both races there in 2013 while Kennington and Klutt have each scored one win respectively.

RACING-REFERENCE:  Previous Pinty’s Series races at CTMPPinty’s Series drivers’ career stats at CTMP

RACE FACTS

RACE Clarington 200
PLACE Canadian Tire Motorsport Park
DATE Sunday, May 20
TIME 1 p.m. ET
TELEVISION TSN, Sunday, May 27 – 4:30 p.m. ET; RDS2, Tuesday, June 5 – 10:30 p.m.
TRACK LAYOUT 2.459-mile road course
2017 WINNER Kevin Lacroix
2017 POLE Kevin Lacroix
EVENT SCHEDULE Saturday — Garage opens: 9 a.m.; Final practice: 12:25-1:35 p.m.; Group qualifying: 5 p.m.

Sunday — Garage opens: 9 a.m.; Driver autograph session: 11:15 a.m.; Clarington 200: 1 p.m.

TWITTER @CTMPOfficial; @NASCARPintys
HASHTAG #Clarington200

RACE CENTER | ENTRY LIST | TICKETS

CREW CHIEF HANDOUT: The maximum starting field is 32 cars, for each race, including provisionals.

Qualifying groups will be determined by each vehicle’s overall fastest single lap from the official practice sessions.

The first 27 cars will secure starting positions based on the qualifying session. The remaining five spots will be awarded through the provisional process.

Each group qualifying session will be five (5) minutes in duration and the fastest single lap speed of each vehicle will determine starting positions 1st through 27nd. Adjustments or repairs may not be made on a vehicle after the vehicle enters the track to begin the qualifying session. Vehicles may not
return to the track or make any further qualifying laps unless directed to do so by a NASCAR Official or in the event of a caution. If a vehicle returns to pit road, the vehicle’s qualifying attempt is complete.

In the event of rain or wet track conditions, and at the discretion of the NASCAR Pinty’s Series Director, practice, qualifying and/or the race may start or continue under those conditions. In wet conditions, and at the discretion of the NASCAR Pinty’s Series Director, competitors may be required to equip their cars with wet condition tires as specified by Goodyear. All cars must be equipped at all times with a functional defogger and a rear window flashing light part #40R00FRN and should be equipped with a functional windshield wiper motor. The rear window flashing light must be illuminated during wet conditions and must be located inside of the upper left section of the rear window. NASCAR Officials must approve all rear taillight mounting and its location.

The maximum tire allotment available for this event is as follows: Four (4) tires for practice, four (4) tires for qualifying and to begin the race, and an additional four (4) for use during the race for a total of twelve (12) tires.

All teams will be required to have one (1) set of four (4) mounted wet condition tires as specified by Goodyear in their assigned pit stall.


NASCAR K&N Pro Series West

Kody Vanderwal will look to keep his momentum rolling, as the series shifts from Tucson to San Bernardino for the Sunrise Ford 150 presented by NAPA Auto Parts.

The 17-year-old from LaSalle, Colorado swept the Port of Tucson Twin 100s at Tucson Speedway and heads to a track where he had his best finish (fourth) as a rookie last season. The K&N Pro Series West returned to Orange Show in 2016 for the first time since 1978, and Chris Eggleston put Bill McAnally Racing in Victory Lane each of the last two seasons.

The Bob Bruncati Racing pair of Derek Thorn and Ryan Partridge took over first and second, respectively, in the points standings after a strong showing at Tucson. However, only 18 points separate first from seventh in the championship standings.

RACING-REFERENCE:  Previous K&N Pro Series West races at Orange ShowK&N Pro Series West drivers’ career stats at Orange Show

RACE FACTS

RACE Sunrise Ford 150 presented by NAPA Auto Parts
PLACE Orange Show Speedway
DATE Saturday, May 19
TIME 8:30 p.m. PT
TELEVISION NBCSN, Thursday, May 24 – 6 p.m. ET
TRACK LAYOUT Quarter-mile oval
2017 WINNER Chris Eggleston
2017 POLE Chris Eggleston
EVENT SCHEDULE Saturday — Garage opens: 11 a.m. PT; Practice: 1:30-2:15 p.m.; Final practice: 2:30-3:15 p.m.; Group qualifying: 5:15 p.m.; Driver Autograph Session: 6-6:40 p.m.; Sunrise Ford 150 presented by NAPA Auto Parts: 8:30 p.m. (approx.)
TWITTER @NASCARHomeTrack
HASHTAG #SunriseFord150

RACE CENTER | ENTRY LIST

CREW CHIEF HANDOUT: The maximum starting field is 22 cars, for each race, including provisionals.

Qualifying groups will be determined by each vehicle’s overall fastest single lap from the official practice sessions.

The first 18 cars will secure starting positions based on the qualifying session. The remaining four spots will be awarded through the provisional process.

Each group qualifying session will be five (5) minutes in duration and the fastest single lap speed of each vehicle will determine starting positions 1st through 27nd. Adjustments or repairs may not be made on a vehicle after the vehicle enters the track to begin the qualifying session. Vehicles may not
return to the track or make any further qualifying laps unless directed to do so by a NASCAR Official or in the event of a caution. If a vehicle returns to pit road, the vehicle’s qualifying attempt is complete.

The maximum tire allotment available for this event is as follows: Four (4) tires for practice, four (4) tires for qualifying and to begin the race for a total of eight (8) tires.


NASCAR Whelen Euro Series

Alon Day had a nearly perfect opening weekend in Spain in defense of his NASCAR Whelen Euro Series crown — recording a pole and two wins in Valencia. Now, the series shifts to Italy and a place that helped launch Day to his 2017 title.

The 26-year-old from Ashdod, Israel, swept the two races at Autodromo di Franciacorta when the weekend was the semifinal round of the championship.

Frédéric Gabillon won the pole for both Italy races last season and finished second and fourth, and he’s currently second to Day and tied with two-time series champion Anthony Kumpen.

The date is not the only change the drivers will encounter with their trip to Italy. The tight left-handed turn-5 chicane has been replaced by a fast bend to the left that blends into a technical right-handed turn 6. It makes for a faster, albeit slightly shorter, course.

Thomas Ferrando and Denny Zardo split the Elite 2 events last season.

RACING-REFERENCE:  Previous Whelen Euro Series races at Franciacorta | Whelen Euro Series drivers’ career stats at Franciacorta

RACE FACTS

RACE NASCAR GP of Italy
PLACE Autodromo di Franciacorta
DATE Saturday, May 19-Sunday, May 20
TIME 1:20 p.m. CET (Saturday) / 2:20 p.m. (Sunday)
TELEVISION FansChoice.tv (LIVE)
TRACK LAYOUT 2.502-km road course
2017 WINNER Alon Day (race 1) / Alon Day (race 2)
2017 POLE Frédéric Gabillon (race 1) / Frédéric Gabillon (race 2)
EVENT SCHEDULE Saturday — Qualifying (ELITE 1 – ELITE 2) 9:50 a.m. CET | ELITE 1 ROUND 3 1:20 p.m. | ELITE 2 ROUND 3 4:50 p.m.

Sunday – ELITE 2 ROUND 4 10:50 a.m. | ELITE 1 ROUND 4 2:20 p.m.

TWITTER @EuroNASCAR
HASHTAG #NASCARGPIT

RACE CENTER | ENTRY LIST | TICKETS


NASCAR PEAK Mexico Series

Two races into the season and Irwin Vences has already build a 15-point cushion in the NASCAR PEAK Mexico Series championship race. However, there’s very little margin for error behind him as the series heads into a Saturday night race at El Dorado Speedway.

Homero Richards sits in second, but he’s only 10 points ahead of 11th place. Salvador de Alba Jr. and Ruben Pardo are both a point back of Richards, while Ruben Garcia Jr. is in fifth, two points behind Richards. Garcia swept the two series races at the 1-km banked track in 2015.

The series’ only stop at Chihuahua will also be one of two weekends that the companion FedEx Challenge Series is not run.

RACING-REFERENCE:  Previous PEAK Mexico Series races at Chihuahua | PEAK Mexico Series drivers’ career stats at Chihuahua

RACE FACTS

RACE NASCAR GP of Italy
PLACE Gran Premio Frontera
DATE Saturday, May 19
TRACK LAYOUT 1-km (.625-mile) oval
2017 WINNER Not held in 2016
2017 POLE Not held in 2016
EVENT SCHEDULE TBD
TWITTER @NASCARPEAKMX
HASHTAG #NASCARCHIH

 


LOCAL FOCUS

While most of the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series has opened their gates for 2018, there are still several tracks getting underway with their seasons.

This weekend will mark the opening event for five more tracks across the United States and Canada.

Madison International Speedway rolled out the 10th annual Joe Shear Classic for the ARCA Midwest Tour, and the Oregon, Wisconsin, track will officially begin NASCAR racing action on Friday. The Late Model division is the track’s Division I and Bobby Wilberg is the two-time defending champion.

In nearby Minnesota, Elko Speedway begins its racing schedule on Saturday. Jacob has tied Adam Royle’s mark with a fourth Minnesota championship on the strength o feight wins and 19 top fives in the Late Model Division.

Lee USA Speedway in New Hampshire is under new ownership, and the first race under new promoter Norm Wrenn will be Saturday. The biggest change is that the R&R “The Tool Store and More” Late Model Sportsman will become the track’s new Division I. Wrenn purchased the track in February from John “Red” MacDonald and his wife Judy, who had owned the track for the previous 33 years.

A pair of Quebec tracks will celebrate Victoria Day weekend with their first race events: Autodrome Chaudière Vallée-Jonction and Autodrome St-Eustache. Steve Cote won 15 times in 22 races between the two tracks to finish third in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series standings last year.  He won the Freightliner Québec/Western Star Lévis Late Model title at Chaudiere and the Sportsman crown at St-Eustache. Cote also won the Quebec title in 2010.

 


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