“From the moment I put my foot on the gas, I knew right away that we were a long way from the Late Model vehicle I’m used to driving in Quebec,” said Bergeron. “The Pro Late Models are very fast. Luckily, the car behaved well and was stable.”
Indeed, the #51 Pro Late Model car that was provided to him for the weekend was nothing like the Late Model or ACT cars that Jean-Philippe had driven before.
A Pro Late Model car develops more than 500 hp. On the half-mile, high-banked New Smyrna oval, Bergeron was able to reach top speeds of almost 130 mph.
From his first practice laps, he clocked times around 18.6 seconds, which was a fifth of a second slower than the leaders, including former NASCAR Truck Series champion Mike Skinner.
On Friday evening, during the official practice sessions, Bergeron’s #51 experienced bearing problems in the right-front wheel. The RCS team immediately repaired the problem, allowing Jean-Philippe to return to the track quickly.
During qualifying, Jean-Philippe posted the eighth-fasted lap to secure the eighth starting position, with a time of 18.549 seconds. That was just .364 of a second back of polesitter Will Cox.
The 50-lap feature ran ‘green to checkered,’ without a single caution flag. During the race, Bergeron advanced three positions and came home fifth. His fellow RCS team driver, Mike Skinner, finished second.
“The weekend was very constructive for me,” continued Bergeron. “I quickly familiarized myself with the car. I learned how to work with the RCS team, and with my spotter, Mike Lina. The communication was good, which bodes well for the World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing, at New Smyrna, during February’s Speedweek.”
Bergeron also benefitted from the advice of Mario Gosselin, the owner of DGM Racing. DGM is the team Quebec driver Alex Labbé competes for in the NASCAR Xfinity Series.
“When Martin D’Anjou offered me a ride to New Smyrna to meet Jean-Philippe and his parents, I immediately accepted,” said Gosselin. “It’s always nice to see young French Canadians competing in our sport, in the United States.
“Jean-Philippe had a great adaptation to make, and despite that, the youngster did a very good job.”
Speaking on behalf of Festidrag Development, organization President Martin D’Anjou said, “We a top-five as our goal for Jean-Philippe in his debut at New Smyrna… and we got it! Jean-Philippe is now part of the Festidrag Development team and will benefit from full support in terms of communications and sponsorship research.”
As mentioned, Bergeron will be back in action at New Smyrna between February 4 and 13, competing in the 55th edition of the World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing. The busy schedule will see him compete in eight races over the course of ten days.
ABOUT RACE CAR SOLUTIONS: Race Car Solutions is a reputable racing team with state-of-the-art cars that specializes in driver development, track and shop services, manufacturing and car rental. The owner, Jamie Skinner, himself a professional race driver, competed in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series at the age of 19, and then went on to compete in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. He is the son of NASCAR champion Mike Skinner. The RCS team is well known for earning numerous podium finishes, each year, at the World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing at New Smyrna Speedway.
ABOUT FESTIDRAG DEVELOPMENT: Festidrag Development offers emerging drivers the support to help them progress positively in their discipline according to their level and their need, through a customized program. The objective is to offer them the best tools, not only at the competition level, but also in terms of media communication, branding, self-promotion, sponsorship research and partner relations.
ABOUT JEAN-PHILIPPE BERGERON: Jean-Philippe Bergeron made his first laps in a kart at the age of 13. In 2015, he participated for the first time in the Cup Lites series on the ICar road circuit where he was crowned Rookie of the Year. Thus began a promising career for the Quebec native. In 2017, he experienced an LMS car in the ACT series with the support of Mr. Claude Leclerc. That’s all it took to convince Bergeron to purchase his own LMS car to race in the CSCC series, one year later. Once again, Bergeron finished with the title of Rookie of the Year. In 2019, Marc Bergeron (Jean-Philippe's father) and Martin Perreault founded the Prolon Racing Team. Surrounded by enthusiasts such as Denis Valiquette, Alain Fortier, Michel Patry, and team leader Richard Forget, Jean-Philippe started the 2020 season with an all-new car entirely rebuilt with a chassis updated by renowned manufacturer Dale Shaw. Despite the shortened season due to COVID-19, Bergeron still accumulated three podium finishes, including one victory, to end the season on a high note at Autodrome Montmagny.
Fans can follow Jean-Philippe Bergeron throughout the 2021 season on Festidrag.TV at www.facebook.com/festidrag on YouTube www.youtube.com/c/FestidragTV and on TéléMag. You can also follow the activities of Jean-Philippe and the Prolon Racing team on Facebook www.facebook.com/JPBRacing18, on Instagram @jpbergeron18 as well as on the website www.prolonracing.com.