What a difference one race can make.
After looking very strong in the first two races of the season, the bad-luck bug bit Kevin Lacroix and in the process showed that there will be plenty of competition throughout the season for the championship.
Although Lacroix is still going to be one of the favorites for the 2018 NASCAR Pinty’s Series crown, he suffered mechanical problems Saturday at Autodrome Chaudière to score his first finish outside the top five since last year at Trois-Rivieres.
L.P. Dumoulin, who won the season opener at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park appeared to be the car to beat winning his second E3 Spark Plugs pole award of his career and he dominated much of the race leading 167 of the 220 laps completed in the event.
However, Andrew Ranger showed why you never give up as he was able to take the lead on a late restart and was declared the winner when rain ended the race 80 laps short of its scheduled distance.
The results of the race shook up the points standings as Dumoulin regained the top spot by seven points over Cole Powell (128-121), with Ranger and Marc-Antoine Camirand eight points behind. Lacroix falls to fifth after his first DNF since last August and sits 11 points back.
Quebec Drivers Are Leading the Way So Far This Season
Ranger’s win on Saturday made Quebec drivers 3-for-3 so far this season in wins with Dumoulin, Lacroix and Ranger all celebrating wins in 2018. In fact, Quebec drivers own four of the top five positions in the points standings after three races with Marc-Antoine Camirand joining the three race winners in the top five.
Cole Powell is the only non-Quebec driver currently in the top five of the points standings. Alex Tagliani (seventh) and Donald Theetge (eighth) give Quebec drivers six of the top 10 positions in the standings.
Powell Continues to Turn Heads
While technically Cole Powell is not a rookie in the Pinty’s Series due to his previous experience in the other stock car touring series, the Mt. Brydges, Ontario, native is showing the poise of a veteran in his first season in the Canadian-based NASCAR series.
After he finished second at Jukasa Motor Speedway two weeks ago and sixth in the season opener at CTMP, Powell finished fourth at Autodrome Chaudière on Saturday. His impressive finish on the challenging quarter-mile bullring was good enough to propel him to second in the points standings – just seven points behind Dumoulin.
Powell has extensive oval experience so his finishes in the last two races are not a big surprise, but if he can continue to perform on the road course next week in Toronto he could be in good shape to remain in contention for the title with three straight oval-track events coming up in the western swing later this month.
Autodrome Chaudière Continues to Provide Competitive Racing
While it’s one of the smallest tracks on the Pinty’s Series schedule, the short track located in Vallee-Jonction, Quebec, continues to be one of the most entertaining and competitive tracks on the circuit.
While last Saturday’s race featured only five lead changes, Ranger and Dumoulin traded the lead on three different occasions and kept the fans on their feet. This was especially true when Ranger and Powell battled door-to-door for the lead over a 10-lap stretch late in the race and during a stretch of eight consecutive laps racing side-by-side for the lead.
The track had averaged 10 lead changes over the first four Pinty’s Series races held at the track located in northern Quebec.
- Donald Theetge getting closer to his first Pinty’s Series win. He finished third last Saturday at Autodrome Chaudière for his second straight top-five finish at the track. The Boischatel, Quebec native has also scored eight top-10 finishes in his last nine races on ovals highlighted by three runner-up finishes during that span.
- Peter Shepherd III had not competed in the Pinty’s Series since 2013, but in the last two races, he’s already shown that he hasn’t forgotten how to compete with some of the best drivers in Canada. The Amherstburg, Ontario driver joined forces with championship winning car owner Dave Jacombs in his return to the series and has already collected to top-10 finishes in as many starts including an eighth-place showing on Saturday.
- Larry Jackson celebrated his 50th career Pinty’s Series start on Saturday with his first top-10 finish of the season and 11th of his career at Autodrome Chaudière. Jackson, who has competed in the series since 2012, also scored his second top-10 on an oval track with his finish last week.
The NASCAR Pinty’s Series teams returns to action on July 14 when the series visits Exhibition Place in downtown Toronto for the third consecutive season and fifth overall. Lacroix is the defending winner of the Pinty’s Grand Prix of Toronto while Tagliani won there in 2016 while Ranger won back-to-back in the 2010 and 2011 seasons.
Motorsport.com: Andrew Ranger scores first Pinty’s Series win since 2016 in Quebec
Inside Track.com: RANGER TAKES MOPAR PARTS DODGE TO VICTORY AT AUTODROME CHAUDIERE
Short Track Scene: Andrew Ranger outlasts the rain for Pinty’s Series Chaudière victory
Mopar.ca: RANGER CLIMBS THROUGH THE FIELD AT CHAUDIERE
Le Journal de Montreal: Andrew Ranger renoue avec la victoire en Serie Pinty’s
La Voix de l’Est: Andrew Ranger triomphe à Vallée-Jonction
La Voix de l’Est: Ranger dans un esprit positif à Chaudière
Speedsport.com: Ranger outlasts the rain in Canada