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NASCAR Pinty’s Preview - Who will replace Labbe as Champion?

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NASCAR Pinty’s Preview - Who will replace Labbe as Champion?
By:
May 14, 2018, 7:26 PM

As defending NASCAR Pinty’s Series champion Alex Labbe competes full-time in the NASCAR Xfinity Series in 2018, the race to crown a new champion is now on.

Cole Powell
Alex Tagliani, Charles Valois, Vice-president of RONA, Lowe's Canada
Donald Theetge
Marc-Antoine Camirand
Pete Shepherd III
Alex Tagliani takes the checkered flag
Andrew Ranger
Kevin Lacroix
Gary Klutt
Louis-Philippe Dumoulin
D.J. Kennington
Robin Buck

Alex Labbe captured five victories last season to clinch the title, a feat that allowed him to race full time in the NASCAR Xfinity series this season, with quite a bit of success.

The new Pinty’s Series season will begin this weekend on Canadian Tire Motorsport Park’s road course near Bowmanville, Ontario.

St.-Eustache, Québec resident Kevin Lacroix will be one driver to watch. Lacroix has won three consecutive Pinty’s Series races at CTMP and is the only driver to equal Labbe’s mark of 12 top-10 finishes last season, including four wins.

Lacroix will have to fight several rivals in 2018, and one of them is former IndyCar driver Alex Tagliani. “Tag” contested all of the Pinty’s races last year when he decided to run for the championship. He won only once but was in contention for wins late in races several times. He drives for Scott Steckly’s 22 Racing and has a solid budget for this season.

Lacroix and Tagliani have never won a NASCAR championship. However, two past champions should be in contention throughout this season: DJ Kennington (who won in 2010 and 2012) and Andrew Ranger (the 2007 and 2009 champ).

Also a former IndyCar racer, Ranger ranked seventh in the final standings last year and while he hasn’t won a race since 2016, when he won the season opener at CTMP and also at ICAR in Mirabel, he’s the all-time record holder in wins in the series with 22.

DJ Kennington is also looking to end long winless streaks as well, as he hasn’t visited the winner’s circle since 2013. Kennington had four podium finishes last year, including a pair of runner-up finishes at Saskatoon. The St. Thomas, Ontario resident has contested several NASCAR Cup races this year, and he’s a remarkable oval racer.

Brothers Jean-François and Louis-Philippe Dumoulin will also be in the hunt for this year’s title. “LP”, the 2014 NASCAR Canada champion, has not finished out of the top five in the final standings for five straight seasons and came home fourth in 2017.

Marc-Antoine Camirand, the driver with a most victories at the Grand Prix of Trois-Rivières, will be driving a brand new Camaro this season with assistance from 22 Racing. With a solid budget from GM Paillé and several days of pre-season testing, Camirand should be in the hunt for the title this year.

Jason White of Sun Peaks, British Columbia, is returning to the NASCAR Pinty’s Series for 2018. White is embarking on an ambitious program of oval tracks, road course and temporary street circuits as he looks to make a bigger splash in 2018. On the ovals his No. 21 car will come from the DJK Racing stable.

Gary Klutt captured his first NASCAR Pinty’s Series win at CTMP in 2015. The driver of the No. 59 Dodge is equally at ease on the short oval as on the road courses. The 25-year-old from Halton Hills, Ontario is a member of the 2016 NASCAR Next class.

Long time EHR driver Jason Hathaway, who stepped away from full time competition at the end of 2016, will now be overseeing a new talent behind the wheel in Cole Powell. Powell, who lives in Mount Brydges, Ontario, will race the No. 3 Chevrolet Camaro for the entire 2018 season.

Former Canadian F1600 top competitor Anthony Simone will be back in the series in his No. 95 car. The 38-year-old has made 71 NASCAR Pinty's Series starts since 2008. Simone finished fourth at CTMP last fall.

The winner of five races in the NASCAR Pinty's Series, Pete Shepherd III is joining forces with Team Owner Jim Bray this season. Last year, Shepherd participated in select APC Series and Outlaw Super Late Model races across Ontario.

Canada’s Best Racing Team (CBRT) will field the No. 46 car for Brett Taylor for the entire Pinty’s season. Last year, Alberta’s Taylor was behind the wheel in a CBRT prepared car for three events. He will be running for Rookie of the Year in 2018.

Scott Steckly’s 22 Racing will field a car for veteran and oval specialist Donald Theetge in all of the NASCAR Pintys Series oval events. In ten Pinty’s Series starts with 22 Racing, Theetge has posted two poles, six top 5’s, eight top 10’s with 409 laps led.

For the upcoming 2018 NASCAR Pinty’s season, Spectra Premium will give the new Spectra Premium Best Overtaker Award to the driver with the most positions gained between start and finish in a race.

In case of a tie, the driver with the highest number of driver points for that race earns the award. The Race Award comes with a $1,000 Money Prize, and the possibility of an additional $500 bonus if the winner uses a Spectra Premium Racing Radiator during the race.

2018 NASCAR Pinty's Series Schedule

DateTrackLocation
May 20 Canadian Tire Motorsport Park Bowmanville, Ont.
June 16 Jukasa Motor Speedway Hamilton, Ont.
June 30 Autodrome Chaudière Vallée-Jonction, Qué.
July 14 Exhibition Place Toronto, Ont.
July 25 Wyant Group Raceway (125-lap twin feature) Saskatoon, Sask.
July 25 Wyant Group Raceway (125-lap twin feature) Saskatoon, Sask.
July 28 Edmonton International Raceway Wetaskiwin, Alb.
August 12 Circuit Trois-Rivières Trois-Rivières, Qué.
August 18 Riverside International Speedway Antigonish, N.S.
August 26 Canadian Tire Motorsport Park Bowmanville, Ont.
September 8 Autodrome St-Eustache St. Eustache, Qué.
September 22 New Hampshire Motor Speedway Loudon, N.H.
September 29 Jukasa Motor Speedway Hamilton, Ont.

 

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Series NASCAR Canada
Author René Fagnan