Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Lapcevich lives up to hype at Saskatoon’s NASCAR Pinty’s stop

Cayden Lapcevich and his crew celebrate a first place finish.
    Cayden Lapcevich is leaving the sophomore jinx in the dust.
    Last year, the Grimsby, Ont., product burst on to the scene becoming the first driver to win the NASCAR Pinty’s Series championship and the NASCAR Pinty’s Series rookie-of-the-year award in the same season. He accomplished both those feats at age 16.
    This year as a 17-year-old sophomore, Lapcevich has a win and two finishes in the top five after the first five races of the Pinty’s Series season. He sat fifth in the driver’s standings, but he considered the start a slow one due to the fact he has visions of repeating as the circuit’s champion.
Cayden Lapcevich (#76) holds of the Pinty’s Series field.
    On Wednesday, Lapcevich made big gains as the series stopped at Saskatoon’s Wyant Group Raceway for unique pair of 100-lap feature races called the Bayer Velocity Prairie Thunder Twin 100.
    He came away with a third place finish in the first race and captured top spot in the second race at the three-eighths mile oval track.
    Thanks to getting his second win of the season, Lapcevich was pleased with how his day progressed.
    “I thought it went pretty good,” said Lapcevich. “We were good in practice. We qualified OK.
    “We’ll build on it. I think there are still improvements to be made. It was definitely tough staying mentally prepared for today.
    “I’m excited to see what the rest of the ovals bring. I think we’re back in the championship chase.”
Cayden Lapcevich won last year’s NASCAR Pinty’s Series title.
    If it wasn’t for a short moment of bad luck, Lapcevich could have left Saskatoon with two feature race wins. On lap 40 of the first race, Lapcevich was involved with a bump and a spin with another car that drew a caution. He pushed back in the field because of that mishap.
    From there, Lapcevich worked his Dodge racer back into third spot behind race winner Alex Labbe and runner-up DJ Kennington. Kennington led a number of laps in that first run before being overtaken by Labbe.
    Lapcevich said all he could do was shrug off his bad luck.
    “It is part of racing,” said Lapcevich. “You build on it and learn from it.
Alex Labbe (#32) captured Wednesday’s first Pinty’s Series race.
    “After we had a tough first race, it was definitely good to rebound and win the second one and be able to climb in the championship.”
    In the second feature race, Lapcevich calmly maneuvered his way through the field like a seasoned veteran. After the first 39 laps, he sat outside of the top four. At the 59th lap, Lapcevich worked his way into third place.
    By the 75th lap, Lapcevich worked his way into second spot and vaulted into the lead by the 78th lap. He held top spot for the duration of the race. Kennington finished second and Labbe came in third.
DJ Kennington placed second in both Pinty’s races in Saskatoon.
    On the twin feature race day, Lapcevich said the biggest challenge was to maintain focus, but the day wasn’t that much out of the ordinary when compared to a day with just one longer feature race. In previous years, the NASCAR Pinty’s Series stop in Saskatoon consisted of one feature race 250-laps in length. Lapcevich won the 250-lap feature race last year in Saskatoon.
    “It is not too much different,” said Lapcevich. “It was just tough to stay mentally prepared.
    “We pushed through and worked hard at it. I’m glad to come out with a win.”
Trent Seidel holds off the local super late model field.
    The two Pinty’s Series races were divided by a 100-lap feature race from the Saskatoon Stock Car Racing Association’s super late model class. The local class put on a great show before large turnout of spectators that packed the track’s stands.
    Andrew Hardy led the early portion of the race in his Dodge Challenger before being overtaken by veteran standout Trent Seidel driving his Chevrolet SS with about 65 laps to go. Seidel held on to top spot from there.
    While Seidel was pacing himself to victory, the battle that was occurring behind him for positioning turned out to be interesting. Matthew Shirley, Kevin Dyck, Jim Gaunt and Kelly Admiraal all jockeyed to get into the top three. When the dust settled, Admiraal slipped into second while Shirley came in third.
Trent Seidel (#70) and Matthew Shirley (#12) battle in a corner.
    Wednesday’s action closed the annual two-day Pinty’s Series stop, which featured racing in the SSCRA’s local classes on Tuesday.
    The SSCRA season resumes at 7 p.m. on Aug. 11 at the Wyant Group Raceway.
    As for Lapcevich, he turns his attention to the next stop in the Pinty’s Series, when the circuit hits the Edmonton International Raceway in Wetaskiwin, Alta., on Saturday.
    The young driver did take some time to reflect on everything that has happened to him this season and last season. In May, he was named to the NASCAR Next program, which gives additional help to young standouts over a 12-month period so they may one day race at NASCAR’s higher levels.
Cayden Lapcevich aims to rocket up the NASCAR ranks.
    The Pinty’s Series is a minor-league circuit that prepares drivers to compete one day on NASCAR’s top level – the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.
    With being part of the NASCAR Next program, Lapcevich receives media training and sponsorship support to help him develop professional skills to assist him in growing his marketability. At times, the last 19 months have been a whirlwind for Lapcevich.
    “It has progressed so much quicker than I thought it would have been,” said Lapcevich. “It has been a lot of fun, and I am excited to see what my future holds.”

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