Four years ago at the age of 12, a youngster got behind the wheel of a full-bodied stock car for the first time in a test session at Sunset Speedway. In between the comments about him being too young and questions about talent, he began to prove himself on track as he raced against the heavyweights of the division for race victories.
Now at the age of 16 years, 10 months and 16 days, Cayden Lapcevich won the NASCAR Pinty’s Series Championship in his rookie season of competition, becoming the youngest NASCAR Champion ever at a national touring level.
“It’s awesome,” Lapcevich told POPULAR SPEED. “I didn’t think it could happen in the first year, but to be here and named the champion is pretty cool.
“I didn’t think I would do this in my rookie guy, racing guys like Andrew Ranger and D.J. Kennington who have championships and be as consistent as we were. I definitely didn’t think I’d be doing it at this level with the caliber of talent.”
The teenager put together a stellar rookie campaign, completing each race in the top-10 to pick up the championship by 54 points over Andrew Ranger. The year was highlighted by three victories, including his first career win at Wyant Group Raceway in Saskatoon, and no finishes off the podium in the seven oval events.
It wasn’t an easy accomplishment for the Fastline Motorsports team, though, as the original plan was only to run a couple of races due to a lack of funding.
“It means a lot, especially doing with such minimal sponsorship, but I’ve got the best guys backing me and hard work, and dedication won us the championship,” Lapcevich said.
While the team remained underfunded compared to the majority of their competitors, they kept pushing on each week with the family-based organization putting a good set-up underneath the teen each week as he continued to put together solid runs.
“I couldn’t be happier,” father and crew chief Jeff Lapcevich told POPULAR SPEED. “We started the season out with no funding, so we were only going to run a couple of races. He ran so good, and some money came in, and he ran good again, and a bit more money came in. Cayden really rose to the occasion. As a father, I’m really proud. As a crew chief, I couldn’t ask for more out of him. Everything was against him, and he rose to the occasion. He’s done it before – in super stock, he had to win the race to win the championship, and he won the race. It’s great. So I couldn’t be happier.”
Lapevich has shown this level of talent and desire since stepping behind the wheel of a stock car. After getting his start in quarter midgets, he made his stock car debut in Sunset Speedway’s Super Stock division in 2012. Within a month, he was running near the front of the field, racing against the veterans for series victories.
While it took him to 2013 to get his first win, winning Flamboro Speedway’s annual Frostfest – he has been on a roll since. He won seven features and a bunch of specials in 2014, scoring the victory in the season finale to secure the Sunset Speedway Championship.
He backed it up with a second championship a year later, finishing no worse than third all season, and picked up victories in season-end specials – Spring Velocity at Sunset, Velocity 250 at Sunset, Garry Reynolds Memorial at Sunset, Chase for the Colours at Peterborough Speedway, and the Autumn Colours Classic at Peterborough. His success at Sunset catapulted him to winning NASCAR’s Rising Star Award for young racers in all of NASCAR’s touring series. On top of his super stock success, he also ran six Pinty’s Series races with a best finish of third at Sunset.
Given the quick rise to the top, everyone can only wonder what the future holds for Lapcevich.
“I’m not really sure,” Cayden said. “Hopefully going to try and make it down to the States next year, but we’ll see how it goes.”
“We’re hoping to find some funding to come back next year,” Jeff said. “I think we’ve got one of the best oval programs, and on the road courses with a couple more starts, Cayden has been getting better. We’ll have to see how things shake out in the winter time.”
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