Starting from the tail of the field in the Pinty’s Grand Prix of Toronto, James Vance worked his way forward, scoring a seventh-place finish despite a mid-race incident.
The Canada’s Best Racing Team (CBRT) driver broke down the event, and more recently with POPULAR SPEED.
POPULAR SPEED: What are your thoughts on the run in Toronto?
JAMES VANCE: It was fantastic. The actual race was a dog fight – I’ve never had a race like it. A street course is one thing, but to do it how it went down for me was the most extreme way it could’ve gone for anyone. I started last because of the mishap in qualifying with another driver, so we had to move our way through the field throughout the race, a couple of moves were really aggressive. By the end of Lap 3, my power steering was gone so I had no power steering in the car so it made it difficult to handle, which made the whole race interesting indeed.
On the first lap, we went from 18th to 11th, so I thought, “Okay, we can do something here.” Then we got to about Lap 15 and I was up to P6 or P7 at that point, and Kerry Micks decided to put me in the wall. I was really bummed. At that point, I was trying to get the car restarted and it wouldn’t fire because everything was so hot, and I was like, “Come on, this can’t be the end of the race.” I was in between despair and anger – it was weird. At that point, I got it restarted and there was a full course yellow because I was sitting for so long, obviously, and I was back to the back again.
At that point, I knew there was only one thing I could do and that was pass as many cars as I possibly could. It’s a tough to do as the car is tough to drive because the car is hot, the tires are wore out, the brakes are wore out. I had to use a lot of my car to get to where I was in the field to get to where I was because I had push to a lot harder to get positions. So the car was not ideal for sure, but the team did a great job and we managed to get to the end. When we came across the line, I wasn’t happy for it to be over, but I was worn out. It was crazy.
PS: Without the incident, do you feel you could’ve broke into the top-five?
JAMES: I feel like I would’ve been on the podium without the incident. My pace at the end of the race was six to eight tenths quicker than the leaders. Everyone was battling, sure, but we were really quick at the end of the race and it showed in the amount of positions we were able to gain in the later parts of the race.
PS: You’ve ran two races thus far this season. Do you have anymore scheduled with CBRT?
JAMES: I have Trois-Rivieres and Canadian Tire Motorsports Park.
PS: That said, it’d be nice to see you get on an oval. Is that in the works down the road for say maybe next year?
JAMES: Yeah, we’re talking about it. We’re looking at options right now, as we have the potential option for a full season. I have been getting offers elsewhere outside of NASCAR, and I think I just have to get through the rest of this year and once I do that, I’ll sit down with my team and the people I trust around me and we’ll go with the best option.
PS: So what’s it like driving a big stock car compared to driving a Mini Cooper in ISMA?
JAMES: It’s been a huge difference, but keep In mind, I’ve done GT4 racing and prototype racing – I’ve done a lot of racing in a lot of different cars, and I think that’s what makes me so versatile in driving so many different cars with success. The prototype, the Mustang, the Porsches – they’ve all been rear-wheel drive, which has helped, but nothing prepared me for the NASCAR; that’s for sure.
It’s a completely different beast. It deserves respect in its own right, but it’s also – I feel like it’s very much a driver’s car. If you’re able to be okay with a car being fast on the borderline of out of control, then I feel like it’s the car for you. I feel in terms of adjustment it’s been more so me implementing a positive characteristic of mind and adapting to what the car does underneath me.
PS: How did get your start in racing?
JAMES: I used to race motocross and when I was racing motocross, I got hurt and fractured my jaw. My parents were like, “Do you want to still race and do something that’s four wheels?” and I was like, “Sure.” We went to go-karts and that was it from that point forward. My ambition was to race cars so that’s what I tried to do, and somehow it worked out. I’ve had a lot of help. My family has been huge, and I’ve got some great partners on board that follow me where I want to go, and trust that I can represent them in the best light wherever I go.
PS: What’s been your most memorable racing moment?
JAMES: I had a battle for the win at Canadian Tire Motorsporst Park in the ISMA Continental race and it was three cars, nose to tail, for 40 minutes straight setting record lap times lap after lap. It was probably the most insane drive of my life because it was both prior year champions trying to chase me down so the pressure was immense and being able to come through. It was my home race, and it turned out to be one of the most epic performances of my career. It was pretty damn cool.
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