By: Ashley McCubbin
No matter where you travel across Ontario through the summer, you can find a short track putting on a thrilling battle right down to the checkered flag with their own divisions. So when you combine that with the best drivers from across the country, you are bound to get to a show.
Sunset Speedway and Delaware Speedway were the bookends to the 2021 NASCAR Pinty’s Series, and certainly offered their good doses of short track action for every fan in attendance.
Raphael Lessard made the return back to Canada after seeing his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series cut short, and put his talent on notice immediately in sweeping the pair of races at Sunset Speedway. The second of those victories, though, is where the sparks flew.
Although he put the No. 80 out front in the opening laps, he would be challenged by Pete Shepherd for the top spot. The No. 7 gave Lessard a couple taps from behind through the middle portion, before getting alongside and passing him. The result, though, was payback as Lessard spun him entering turn one.
The next challenge came from Treyten Lapcevich, who had cut his teeth at Sunset Speedway over the last five years. The teenager reeled Lessard in as the laps closed down, making his move with three laps to go. Unfortunately, it did not pan out with the No. 20 going around in turn three. Whether both drivers got loose, or Lessard could have given a little bit more room is debate in most will call a simple racing incident.
Lessard then held off past champion D.J. Kennington on the following restart to sweep the night.
Kennington got his trip to victory lane, when the series headed to Delaware Speedway at year’s end. It was once again at Lapcevich’s expense in the final laps.
Lapcevich, who appeared stronger on the long run, had dominated the middle portion of the event and could easily been on his way to his first career series victory if not for the late caution. Instead, his inability to get away on the final restart opened the door.
It’s one thing to complete a pass clean without any contact. Ideally, that’s the way you want things done as it’s takes skills to roll the center and get a run underneath somebody. Lapcevich had followed this technique through the event.
Though tight confines bring forth the controversial bump and run, to where it seems no two fans can agree about it being done in the right, professional way. In this situation, Kennington ultimately rolled into three better, connecting with Lapcevich’s bumper for a clean tap to send the No. 20 up the track, and roll on by.
Was it fair? Absolutely, as short track racing has always been a little rough around the edges. Does Lapcevich have a right to be frustrated? Any driver who has the win snatched away in the final laps would be. He has every right to be frustrated, but also there’s an understanding it’s not over the line in desperate measure racing.
The only takeaway that is positive could be Kennington admitting it. He straight out said he got into the back of Lapcevich with the door being left open, but also praised the young star in saying he has lots of wins to come.
Delaware ultimately delivered on a pair of strong finishes, as the Sunday second feature saw another close finish, this time between Andrew Ranger and Kevin Lacroix. The Pinty’s Fall Brawl saw lots of action late, producing back-to-back overtime finishes. The past series champion showed his ability, holding off the challenge from the No. 74 to score the victory.
The 2022 schedule has not been released yet, and there’s certainly a void with Jukasa Motor Speedway closing its door. But fans can be rest assured that the province of Ontario should remain a fixture on the schedule, with more great memories to be made.