The 2021 NASCAR Pinty’s season came to a climactic conclusion at Delaware Speedway this past weekend, with sparks flying in three intense sprint races.
The Canadian Tire 125 was just a taste of what was to come. The Friday night feature saw D.J. Kennington and Treyten Lapcevich battle it out for 125 laps.
On a restart with five to go, while Lapcevich held onto the lead, many fans thought they were about to witness the rookie win his first NASCAR race. However, in true motorsports fashion, ‘it ain’t over, till it’s over.’
In the final two turns, Kennington handed Lapcevich the bump-n-run, moving to the inside and taking the checkered flag.
After the race, Lapcevich expressed his displeasure of the move to Kennington while in Victory Lane as the two exchanged words.
‘It’s pretty obvious that the No. 20 was the fastest car out there. I got by D.J. clean, didn’t touch him on the restart there,” Lapcevich explained. “I think I pretty much had it wrapped up. But he got close to me and just drove through me in the last corner. I raced him pretty well there and it just sucks that he couldn’t give me any respect back.”
Kennington, however, said he ‘doesn’t like doing that but Lapcevich left a hole on the bottom.’
“I drove inside of Treyten at the bottom, I stayed right there, he was trying to protect it obviously and we touched,” explained Kennington. “He got sideways, we got through and got the win.”
Tempers were certainly flaring after race one, and many fans waited in anticipation for how the two Sunday races at Delaware would play.
During the QwickWick 125, it was the No. 20 and the No. 17 on the front row once again. Lapcevich set a new track record earlier that morning of 19.090 seconds and led the first 80 laps.
On a restart, it was the newly crowned 2021 APC Champion, Brandon Watson that claimed the lead while Lapcevich began to fall back.
Just a few laps later the caution came out again, this time for the No. 20 that got into his teammate Alex Tagliani who at the time was struggling to remain atop the championship standings.
In the end, it was D.J. Kennington that claimed the checkered flag, capturing two wins at his home track and bringing his career total to 23.
“They were all fast, and a little better than we were,” said Kennington. “It’s been a successful weekend here so far; my race team is the best there is in the business.”
The Championship battle now came down to just one race, the Pinty’s Fall Brawl. L.P. Dumoulin had reclaimed the standings lead with seven points over Tagliani after the No. 18 finished 14 and 18 in the first two races.
Despite wrecking in the QwickWick 125, Lapcevich scored the pole once again and led the 123 or the 150 laps until he spun while trying to avoid a wreck in turns 1 and 2. When the race restarted, the rookie spun into the inside wall, shot back up the track, collected multiple cars and was forced to retire.
Restarting with four laps to go, it was Kevin Lacroix and Andrew Ranger on the front row.
After a few mistakes in the corners by the No. 74 Bumper to Bumper/Lacroix Tuning Dodge, Ranger was able to get by for the lead and claim his second win of the season.
“I started second there and a lot of things can happen, I was pretty nervous,” said Ranger. “I was able to exit pretty well in corner four, right on the bumper of Kevin. He made a little mistake in one and two, so I was able to pass him for the last lap.”
The win propelled the No. 51 Dodge into second place in the championship standings, eight points back of Dumoulin.
L.P. Dumoulin Crowned Champion
Dumoulin joins Ranger and Scott Steckly as the third driver with more than three Championship in the NASCAR Pinty’s Series. During the 2021 season, the No. 47 WeatherTech/Bellemare Dodge only stood atop the standings once – after his win at CTMP.
Coming through with three strong finishes at Delaware pushed Dumoulin back into title contention, but it wasn’t without threats from Kennington and Ranger at the end.
“Every championship is different, and they are all big, but this one means so much to us,” said Dumoulin. “The team worked really hard at the shop to build a new car last winter and then with COVID, it’s been a lot of curveballs for everybody.”
“It’s something that when I started racing in the NASCAR Pinty’s Series that I wasn’t actually expecting,” he continued. “I was just trying to do my best to learn ovals and stuff like that but here we are three-time champions. It feels outstanding.”
Tagliani’s Championship Hopes Dashed
Heading into the Championship events at Delaware, Tagliani was the driver in control of the standings with an 11-point lead.
But bad luck ensued and the No. 18 RONA/Viagra/St-Hubert/CanTorque Chevrolet saw his title hopes vanish with each race.
“It was a lot of bad luck. It’s a shame, it was a great missed opportunity,” explained Tagliani. “It wasn’t a great weekend, we didn’t have the pace in the first race and the other race, we got tangled in many wrecks. Not our fault unfortunately and that’s the frustrating part. I guess it wasn’t meant to be.”
“We’ll look back and see. Obviously, if we would have come in with more pace, we would’ve not gotten involved in those things but it’s what it is so on to next year,” he continued.
Lapcevich Scores Rookie of the Year Honors
While the 17-year-old didn’t pick up his first NASCAR win in 2021, Lapcevich had a dominant rookie season.
“I’m really proud of the No. 20 QwickWick RGC Sports team,” said Lapcevich. “We had a good Rookie season; we were really fast pretty much everywhere we went. Just wish that luck would have fallen into place and maybe we could have gotten that first win.”
Overall, Lapcevich picked up four pole-awards, with five top-five finishes, seven top-tens and led 309 laps.