By: Ashley McCubbin
After sitting out from behind the wheel last season, Marc-Antoine Camirand will be back in the NASCAR Pinty’s Series in 2021, set for the full campaign with 22 Racing. The Quebec native recently spoke with NEWS FROM THE PITS about his thoughts entering the year, and more.
ASHLEY MCCUBBIN: What are your thoughts going into the season ahead?
MARC-ANTOINE CAMIRAND: Well, first of all, I didn’t do any racing last year so missing it a lot. I did some go-karting last year with my son, but not real racing. So first of all, missing racing a lot but just happy the sponsor is back – GM Paille is back this year, and just hoping for the best. I want to get back into the car as soon as I can.
I talked with Scott (Steckly) yesterday about doing some tests at Flamboro (Speedway), probably at the end of April. Not like 100% for sure, but looking at doing that, but just want to get back into the car and check if I can still drive the car.
MCCUBBIN: I was going to ask – how is it going to be having spent a year away from the sport?
CAMIRAND: Yeah, exactly. It was my first time in my career that I didn’t do any racing, like real racing stuff, through one complete season. That was something. The first few months I was doing okay, but after that, ‘oh, something is missing here during the summer’. Like I said, I had more time with the kids and my son started to do some go-kart races so I spent a little more time with him at the track, but it’s not like the real stuff racing when you’re used to racing every few weeks and the series competition. It was different.
MCCUBBIN: Each year you’ve been getting better as a driver behind the wheel. What is it going to take to be stronger in the year ahead?
CAMIRAND: Well, I spent some time on iRacing through the winter and I train a lot, too, physically at the gym and on the pavement at the house. I train hard and I’m ready to get back in the car. Even if I didn’t run a lot last year on the NASCAR stuff, I did some go-karts and I think I’m ready to see if I’m competitive with those guys.
MCCUBBIN: What would it mean to put the No. 22 back in victory lane?
CAMIRAND: We struggled last season with this. We struggled a bit on the oval stuff, not only me but all the 22 Racing team, and I know Scott spent some time last year during the off-season to improve the car on the ovals. On the road courses, the car was really competitive. But on the ovals, we struggled a little bit with the new tire for some reason. The team didn’t find the good set-up for the General Tires.
Like I said, they worked real hard through the winter to improve the car so that’s why we want to go test before the season kicks-off at Sunset (Speedway).
MCCUBBIN: Now 22 Racing is also making other changes going into the season, bringing Treyten Lapcevich into the program. What is it going to be like for you having Treyten and Alex Tagliani as teammates?
CAMIRAND: Well, it’s good to get some new blood in the series, for sure, and I know the father (Jeff) Lapcevich was really competitive, and we know the older brother (Cayden) won the championship – he was really good, also. So it’s good to get some new blood in the series. The only thing I’m a little bit worried about is I hope Scott will get the good crew, because going back to when I did the full season with Alex and Donald Theetge, that was kind of a bit of the problem.
Running three cars is a lot and I know Scott struggled a bit at the shop to prep the cars because they only have two full-time guys working at the shop during the week. It’s different during the race weekend, but that was kind of a bit of what worries me a little bit because I know running three cars is a lot of work. I hope they’ll find a good crew for the kid, and for myself to improve the team, because we want to get back as a top team in the 2021, and we want to – even me and Alex, and Treyten – we want to win some. So we hope put everything together to get us some really fast cars.
MCCUBBIN: You mentioned the new blood coming into the series. With the series seeing the changes it is, what are your thoughts on the current competition level?
CAMIRAND: It’s always been really competitive. One of the most competitive series in Canada – you don’t know who’s going to win the races, especially on the ovals. There are 10 drivers that could win the race, you know? It’s really good. That’s the competition. I want to race and want to win, but I want to race against the best, and that’s the good thing.
There’s some new guys coming in and I hope also Andrew (Ranger) will be back. Andrew is a good friend of mine. I know Mopar is not coming back this year, but I hope for him, he will find some money and sponsors to get back in the series full-time. We need that kind of name – Andrew is a good driver, he’s been there for awhile, and he’s the last real champion. I know Jason Hathaway won last year, but not like full-time season. For me, Andrew is a good guy and the series needs him.
MCCUBBIN: I won’t deny that, either, as Andrew is fun to watch – especially if you get him determined at the front of the field.
CAMIRAND: When I race against him, he’s one of the good drivers so you know he won’t make crazy moves. It’s always fun to race against him.
MCCUBBIN: What track are you most excited for this season?
CAMIRAND: Trois-Rivieres. As you know, my only win in the Pinty’s Series is on an oval, but I’m more like a road course specialist. So I hope Trois-Rivieres will happen. It’s on the schedule right now, but as you know with COVID, they need fans to get in to run the show. So I hope they will allow fans in the near future.
MCCUBBIN: How did you get started in racing?
CAMIRAND: My dad has always been a car guy, a mechanic. We own a car shop so been involved in cars and racing since a young age. Like everybody, I started go-karts at eight years old and did all those classes till I was 16 years old. I then started my professional racing career at 17 years old in formula cars.
MCCUBBIN: What would be one piece of advice for someone looking to get to the Pinty’s Series one day?
CAMIRAND: As we know – it’s sad, but it’s always about money. You have to have good sponsorship along with good talent. So the only thing I can say is don’t give up. If you work hard, some day, it will pay up. Myself, it’s been a couple times that I have enough, then two or three years struggle to get money, then I don’t know in that moment – pretty much done with it. Then GM Paille come and we did one race at Trois-Rivieres, and then now we’ve had GM Paille on-board for multiple years.