BOWMANVILLE, ON (August 23, 2019)- From the start of the season, the championship points battle has seemed to be a two-horse race. While Andrew Ranger and Kevin Lacroix have been the class of the field, defending champion L.P. Dumoulin and Alex Tagliani have done enough to keep themselves in the running. But with only four races remaining, time is running out for one of them to make a move.
Ranger and Lacroix have spent the entire season one-two in the standings, having swapped the points lead after each of the first six races. If history is any indication, this could be the weekend they separate from the pack – the two have seven combined wins at CTMP, including five of the last seven races.
Coincidentally, the other two winners in that span are Dumoulin and Tagliani, who just about need to reach victory lane to stay in the title hunt past Sunday.
Typically, the Western Swing to Saskatoon and Edmonton can define a driver’s championship push. With three races in four days, opportunities are aplenty to gain points. If Ranger emerges as the 2019 champion, he can point to his two wins there as the defining moment. He went out west with a 2 point lead and returned up 18.
But Dumoulin also kickstarted his season with a win in the first Saskatoon race. Since then he has exploded with a win and four top fives. He has gone from 30 points back after Edmonton to an easily fixable 17 points back.
It has helped that Ranger has hit a bit of a slide in the last two races, finishing seventh and eighth, respectively. That has allowed Lacroix, Dumoulin and even Tagliani to tighten the gap heading into the homestretch of the season.
Tagliani was seemingly out of the championship running, 44 points back after Edmonton. But two straight podium finishes have helped the defending race winner gain back 11 points. Anything short of a win at CTMP could end Tagliani’s shot at this year’s title.
Trouble at CTMP could be impactful in the standings. With 25 cars entered, any poor run can result in a massive points loss.
Four drivers enter CTMP in the title hunt, who will emerge entering the final three races?
Canadian Flavour in the Gander Trucks
Canadian fans will see five of their homegrown heroes take on the tricky CTMP road course in the Gander Outdoors Truck Series. Alex Tagliani will make his debut with Kyle Busch Motorsports in the No. 51 Toyota. Tagliani has run the event four prior times, with two starts for each Brad Keselowski Racing and Young’s Motorsports. Tagliani scored two pole positions for BKR, and a best finish of fifth. This year may be as good an opportunity for a win in one of NASCAR’s main three series as Tagliani has ever had.
Gary Klutt with make his third attempt at the race, this time for championship contending team Niece Motorsports. Klutt has a best finish of 11th for KBM in 2016.
Canadian phenom Raphael Lessard ran GP3R to prepare himself for his first road course start in a truck, piloting the No.54 FRL Express Toyota for DGR Crosley. Lessard has 4 starts this season with a best finish of 9th at Iowa.
Sun Peaks, B.C native Jason White, who stepped away from Pinty’s Series competition in July after his 100th career start, will attempt his third Gander Trucks race.
Full-time Gander Trucks driver and Playoff contender Stewart Friesen hails from Niagara-on-the-Lake.
Chandler Smith to Make Pinty’s Series Debut
The NASCAR Pinty’s Series has seen a plethora of drivers from the States make their debuts in preparation for the August Gander Trucks race. Noah Gragson, Riley Herbst, Kaz Grala and James Buescher are just a handful of drivers who trekked North.
This week 17-year-old ARCA Menard’s Series standout Chandler Smith will be the next American standout to try his hand at Canada’s top series, in preparation for a potential run in the Gander Trucks in 2020. He will pilot the No.26 Quick Wick/ 828 Logistics Chevrolet for 22 Racing.
The Talking Rock, Georgia native has 6 wins in 18 starts in the ARCA Menard’s Series and a pole in his Gander Trucks debut at Iowa.