The former Champ Car Atlantic driver switched to NASCAR in 2015, and unlike many in the paddock, Lacroix found success almost immediately. Winning two of this first four starts (ICAR , GP3R) changed Lacroix’s focus from part-time star to championship contender.
“Since my first two wins in 2015, we were supposed to do only four or five races a year just for fun,” said Lacroix. “And with these two races, we got much more serious, though, with higher expectations.
“We know we can win.”
Until last season, Lacroix had been known for his stellar performances on road courses. He has won on every single active road course in the Pinty’s Series, including an impressive three in a row at CTMP (2016-2017). Lacroix’s open-wheel background has been a huge asset, however driving a street course in a Pinty’s car is a totally new challenge.
“NASCAR cars are very fast, and we always run good on street courses or road courses,” Lacroix said. “That’s where we get a lot of experience. The open wheel cars are a little bit faster in the corners but they’re much lighter. Going into it in a stock car makes it a little bit slower in terms of reflexes but still leaves no room for mistake.”
The 2017 Toronto winner is excited to once again take to the streets this season. Racing on a street circuit carved out of the streets of one of Canada’s most picturesque cities is something Lacroix loves. Getting to experience cities like Toronto and Trois-Rivieres are just one of the many things that is attractive about racing on the streets.
“That's what I like, that's what I've been doing all my life from go-karting to NASCAR cars and any type of racetrack,” Lacroix said. “Courses like CTMP, GP3R and Toronto that are very tight with the walls, and everything makes a little bit more challenging, and there's no room for mistakes. It's really exciting to have experiences downtown in these cities, it's a really great feeling, really nice to attend.”
After Chaudiere, Lacroix took a one point lead over Andrew Ranger. With the looming Western swing on the horizon, Lacroix knows that Toronto is an opportunity to gain points on Ranger. A perilous feat when considered that Ranger has the most wins on the Streets of Toronto.
“Knowing that it's a trend that we've been fast there in the past, not lucky last year there, but we were always pretty fast,” Lacroix said. “I'm looking to extend my points lead. I want to concentrate a lot of road courses to make the most points I can go. We're going out West in the next week, so I want to have the most points before and I'll be I think I'll be really thankful for the momentum.”
News and Notes
Top Three in Points, Top Three in Toronto
For the NASCAR Pinty’s Series drivers Toronto will be a tough place if your name isn’t Ranger, Lacroix or Tagliani. The current top three in points have also won all five races run at the famed street circuit. Ranger leads the group with three wins. Since the track returned in 2016 after a five-season hiatus these three drivers have dominated. In 2016 they finished 1-2-3 with Tagliani winning, in 2017 Lacroix capitalized after an early race accident between Ranger and Tagliani took them out. Last season Ranger and Tagliani duked it out in NASCAR overtime after Lacroix had been sidelined after contact.
Pinty’s GP Episode VI: Return of the Road Course Ringers
Returning to the Series this week will be a host of road course specialists. Legendary Motorsports will be back with their duo of cars; Peter and Gary Klutt will look for strong runs after setting the bar high back in May at CTMP. J.F Laberge and J.F Dumoulin will be back and ready to contend, as both Dumoulin Competition racers will be doing all four of the season’s road courses. Finally, David Thorndyke will be running for Jim Bray this week, could the new team help inject a spark into the veteran driver.