After starting from pole in the NASCAR Pinty’s Series race at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, Kevin Lacroix used outright speed, strategy and a little help from his front bumper to take the race win. It was Lacroix’s second win of 2019.
Several cautions throughout the race changed the strategy for the frontrunners. Lacroix, led for much of the race, but also found himself in the back of the pack for much of the event.
“We had a good strategy for a clean race and many laps under green, but there’s some risk to take and some not to take,” Lacroix said to OnPitRoad.com after the race. “Some of the guys pitted really early for gas, and that for sure doesn’t work on fuel if you have a green race. It put them to front and sometimes you just can’t control it. Your good strategy becomes a bad strategy. It puts you in the back and you have to battle harder than expected to get back to the front.”
Alex Tagliani was in position to win until the final corner when contact from the No. 74 sent the No. 18 Rona Chevrolet into the grass. Lacroix made the pass on Tagliani, while the No. 18 fell to fourth.
“[Tagliani] pulled away a little bit the first three corners of the track. I saw the win slipping in my hands,” Lacroix said. “I watched my mirror and saw Marc-[Antoine Camirand] in third place. He was very far back. I pushed a little bit harder and broke late in the corner. I knew at worst I would finish second, so I gave it a little more.
“I think he made some mistakes in [turns] eight, nine and 10. He gave me a shot to dive in and the last corner and contact was made.”
After the race, Tagliani voiced his displeasure with the winner, slamming into him on the cool-down lap.
“I race him super clean,” Tagliani told OnPitRoad.com. “All of his comments trying to get him out of what he did was cheesy. He drilled me on the inside instead of trying to be creative and try to go on the outside. He didn’t try.
“Me and [Andrew] Ranger proved in the past that there’s a way of racing in that corner. If you look at all the replays with me and the [No.] 27 and the way I race some guys on street and road courses, it’s not like that. I could’ve taken him out at the beginning of the race, and I didn’t. I raced him clean. I don’t know, it’s a bit of a free-for-all.”
Meanwhile, Andrew Ranger came into the race with a healthy points lead. Despite running near the front for a large stint of the race, the former series champion ran into trouble later in the race. The No. 27 driver cut a tire down and was unable to stop for repairs due to the pits being closed. It caused suspension damage to Ranger.
Camirand wound up finishing second while J.F. Dumoulin finished third. It was the second straight podium for the elder Dumoulin who is only racing on the road and street courses this year.
“We had a clean, fast race car so we were able to stay in the mix,” he said. “We moved past a lot of cars. Our strategy was good. I’m happy for the [No.] 04 Bellemare/Spectra Premium car, so we’ll be back next year even better.”
Tagliani, Anthony Simone, Jason Hathaway, D.J. Kennington, Simon Dion-Viens, Ranger and Julia Landauer rounded out the top-10 finishers.
With Ranger’s problems, Lacroix closed the gap in the championship. The two drivers will enter the next race of the championship at St-Eustache tied for the points lead. Tagliani’s fourth in points, but may still play a role.
“If you’re racing for the championship, you better not make any new enemies,” he said.