VALLEE JONCTION, Quebec – It was finish that had the fans on their feet for the final 25 laps and left long-time observers of the NASCAR Pinty's Series calling it one of the best races in the series' 10-year history.
In the end, it was 23-year-old Alex Labbe celebrating his first career win in front of his hometown crowd and 16-year-old Cayden Lapcevich with a second straight impressive runner-up finish.
Just how wild was Friday's finish on the .25-mile banked oval?
Labbe took the lead from Lapcevich with 21 laps to go with the first of nine lead changes in the closing laps, as the two young rising stars ran nearly door-to-door the entire time. Labbe's No. 32 Can-Am/Kappa/Cyclops Gear/Lou's BBQ Ford, running the slightly higher line, would pull slightly ahead. But whenever he moved down, he'd get the bumper of Lapcevich's No. 76 OhswekenSpeedway.com Dodge that pushed him back up the groove and allowed the teenager to pull back alongside.
The ran side-by-side for the final 10 laps, swapping the lead by a nose at the line. Labbe took the point with three to go and only a slip-up in the final turns of the final lap prevented a last-gasp bump-and-run attempt by Lapcevich.
Final margin of victory was .331 seconds.
Alex Tagliani finished third right behind the leaders, just another tenth back. Donald Theetge and Mark Dilley completed the top five.
Earler in the day, Labbe won his second E3 Spark Plug Pole Award. But unlike the season opener at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, where he lost the win with a lap and a half to go, he was able to close the deal. He led a race-high 150 laps, dominating the first half of the race in his 18th career start.
Lapcevich walks away with a nice consolation prize: He becomes the youngest driver to lead the championship points. Lapcevich leads Andrew Ranger by six and Labbe by eight.
Kevin Lacroix finished sixth, followed by Jason Hathaway, Ranger, David Michaud and DJ Kennington. Ranger led 71 laps and had been battling with Lapcevich for the lead before he slipped up in Turn 4 on Lap 227. That handed the lead to Lapcevich and set the stage for the final run to the finish.
The NASCAR Pinty's Series will be right back on track Sunday, July 3 for the ICAR 100 at Circuit ICAR, the road course in Mirabel, Quebec.
NASCAR Pinty's Series-CRS Express 300 Results
At Autodrome Chaudiére
Lap length: 0.25 miles
(Start position in parentheses)
1. (1) Alex Labbe, Victoriaville, Que., Ford, 300 laps, 52.083 mph.
2. (2) Cayden Lapcevich, Grimsby, Ont., Dodge, 300.
3. (4) Alex Tagliani, Lachenaie, Que., Chevrolet, 300.
4. (5) Donald Theetge, Boischatel, Que., Dodge, 300.
5. (12) Mark Dilley, Barrie, Ont., Ford, 300.
6. (8) Kevin Lacroix, Saint-Eustache, Que., Dodge, 300.
7. (13) Jason Hathaway, St. Thomas, Ont., Chevrolet, 300.
8. (11) Andrew Ranger, Roxton Pond, Que., Dodge, 300.
9. (15) David Michaud, Terrebonne, Que., Dodge, 299.
10. (10) D.J. Kennington, St. Thomas, Ont., Dodge, 299.
11. (3) L.P. Dumoulin, Trois-Rivieres, Que., Dodge, 299.
12. (9) Larry Jackson, Oakville, Ont., Ford, 298.
13. (7) Gary Klutt, Halton Hills, Ont., Dodge, 231.
14. (16) Josh Collins, Placentia, NL, Ford, 199, suspension.
15. (6) Anthony Simone, Aurora, Ont., Dodge, 198, accident.
16. (14) Kerry Micks, Mount Albert, Ont., Ford, 4, electrical.
Time of Race: 1 hour 26 minutes 24 seconds
Margin of Victory: .331 seconds
Fastest Qualifier: A.Labbe (69.482 mph, 12.953 seconds)
Caution Flags: 5 for 34 laps.
Lead Changes: 13 among 3 drivers.
Lap Leaders: A. Labbe 1-6; C. Lapcevich 7-27; A. Labbe 28-156; A. Ranger 157-227; C.
Lapcevich 228-278; A. Labbe 279; C. Lapcevich 280-281; A. Labbe 282-284; C. Lapcevich 285; A. Labbe 286-291; C. Lapcevich 292-293; A. Labbe 294-295; C. Lapcevich 296-297; A. Labbe 298-300.
Standings: 1. C. Lapcevich, 126; 2. A. Ranger, 120; 3. A. Labbe, 118; 4. D. Kennington, 114; 5. L. Jackson, 104; 6. J. Hathaway, 101; 7. K. Lacroix, 98; 8. L. Dumoulin, 97; 9. G. Klutt, 96; 10. A. Tagliani, 89..
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