TORONTO, Ontario — If you’re traveling through Toronto, you’ve become well aware of the bumps and variety of pavement which makes up Ontario’s capital city. Now just imagine having to race a 3,500-pound race car across those surfaces, while avoiding the concrete walls on either side of you.
That is the challenge ahead of the NASCAR Pinty’s Series drivers for the Pinty’s Grand Prix on Saturday afternoon.
Throughout the 11-turn course, each turn is unique, whether via how tight it is or the pavement used, making the track very technical to run. Some have given more headaches than others, with competitors typically circling turn one, three and eight.
“The brake zone going into turn eight is paved, so that’s quite nice now,” Alex Tagliani said. “It’s always been a rough braking zone. But turn one is rough, so I’m sure everybody is struggling a little bit with brake bias, wheel-hop, and all that stuff. It’s a challenging track, but a fun street course to drive on.”
While the challenge is steep, the track is better than it was last season, as Kevin Lacroix notes they repaved some spots, while making turn 11 a little wider than it was last season.
The balance between being successful and not is slim, as recognized in qualifying. Adam Andretti bounced his car off the wall, popping the right rear tire, while Kevin Lacroix caught the turn-two wall after setting the third quickest time of the session. Those incidents occurred racing around the circuit by themselves so now putting 20 cars under a blanket, you’re bound to create some drama.
Typically on an oval, the stars of the series are close together in competition, bouncing off each other in sections with bent fenders and hurt feelings standard. As Tagliani noted, a late caution at Circuit ICAR last week resulted in him finishing sixth after leading 61 of 75 laps.
“All it takes is a restart at the end, and then you’ll see stuff is going to fly,” he said. “We will do what we can control, and that’s the best that we can.”
In qualifying, Andrew Ranger was the master of the circuit, picking up the pole award ahead of Tagliani and Lacroix.
“I’m very happy about my car,” he said. “The guys did a really good job in practice for qualifying. Everything about the track here is very technical, and we’re sliding around, so it will make it interesting for the fans. So I’m proud of my team, and I think tomorrow is a long race. Anything can happen, as Alex said.”
Despite running up front each week, Ranger has failed to reach victory lane this season with a best finish of second, twice.
“We’ve had a good car every week, but NASCAR is a very close series so every lap things can change,” he said. “In every race, the car is good, but against these guys, it’s tough. We have really good drivers in the series – Tag, Lacroix, (Alex) Labbe – they were all fast, so it’s going to be very interesting, but I am going to do everything I can to win.”
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