After making his debut during the 2020 Pinty’s FanCave Challenge, newcomer Treyten Lapcevich was ready to make a name for himself in the NASCAR Pinty’s Series.
Kicking off his Josten’s Rookie of the Year campaign at a track he is very familiar with, Lapcevich was wicked fast the second he hit the track, starting second for the Frontline Workers 125.
After rain delayed the bulk of the first race, Lapcevich claimed the lead on lap 10 and he began to pass it back and forth with Pete Shepherd.
On a restart with 40 to go, the No. 7 got bumped and moved up the race track hitting the No. 20 and sending Lapcevich for a spin.
The incident didn’t cause serious damage but it did send the Rookie to the back of the pack. He couldn’t get back up to the front by the end and finished the race in ninth.
Only the General Tire 125 remained, and Lapcevich, who started sixth, was determined to get back out front but ended up suffering a similar fate.
While going for the lead with three laps to go, the No. 20 RGC Sports/QwickWick Chevrolet got turned and ended his chance of a win that day. Despite starting NASCAR Overtime from tenth, Lapcevich used the final two laps to charge forward and finished fourth.
GRAND PRIX DE TROIS-RIVIÈRES
Before arriving in Trois-Rivières, Que., Lapcevich had never raced on a road course. The only experience 17-year-old had was practicing on his racing simulator and competing in the 2021 eNASCAR International iRacing Series.
He qualified ninth for the Guardian Angels 60 and as the race went on, the Rookie put his iRacing experience to good use, leading two laps and keeping his car in the top ten for most of the day.
A late-race restart gave Lapcevich the opportunity to bring home a potential podium in his first road course.
With three laps to go, Kevin Lacroix and L.P. Dumoulin battled for the third position, sending the No. 47 Dodge sideways and allowing Lapcevich to squeeze by into fourth. He then added to pressure Lacroix for third but ran out of laps and picked up a top-five finish.
Heading back to Quebec for another road course, the series returned to Circuit ICAR for the first time since 2017. Another new track for Lapcevich, the No. 20 were optimistic about the day after their finish at GP3R and picking up a seventh-place starting position.
However, about 15 laps into the La Fernandiere 75, the Rookie began to fall off the pace with smoke coming out the rear end of the No. 20 Chevrolet. Four laps later, Lapcevich entered pit road to the attention of his team, tried to solve the issue and fell off the lead lap in the process.
In the end, Lapcevich finished 17th and 13 laps down.
CANADIAN TIRE MOTORSPORT PARK
For the final two road course events of the year, the series returned to CTMP in Bowmanville, Ont.
First up was the Olymel Grand Prix of Toronto – a 30 lap sprint race on Saturday. Lapcevich qualified eighth, and with no time to waste, the Rookie charged forward. By the halfway point was already up to fifth.
A late-race restart and trouble for leader, Gary Klutt, allowed the No. 20 RGC Sports/QwickWick Chevrolet to pick up two positions in the final five laps, finishing third and picking up his first podium of the season.
The next day it was time for the Clarington 200 and Lapcevich had secured a fifth-place starting position.
However, his second race at CTMP wouldn’t live up to his first. On lap six, he slowed on track coming out of turn ten, came to a stop and caused a caution. After being pushed to pit road, the No. 20 team got to work trying to diagnose and fix the issue.
Shortly after rejoining the field, Lapcevich slowed to a stop again, just shy of pit road.
When the Rookie eventually got back on track, he struggled for the remaining laps and ended his day in 21st and 19 laps down.
Back on the ovals, the final two tracks were ones that Lapcevich was very familiar with. During qualifying, the Rookie picked up the first E3 Spark Plugs Pole Award of his NASCAR career.
The green flag dropped for the MotoMaster 125 and Lapcevich led the field in the opening laps.
On lap 16, however, he blew a right-front tire while leading and came to a stop on the track, bringing out the caution. The 17-year-old rejoin the field, three laps down and started to work his way back up.
He received the free pass on the final caution of the race, but in the end, finished in ninth place, one lap down.
For the final three races of the year, the series headed to Delaware Speedway just outside of London, Ont.
Kicking the weekend off on Friday night was the Canadian Tire 125.
Earlier that day, Lapcevich won the pole award, edging hometown driver D.J. Kennington. As the green flag dropped, it became the Lapcevich and Kennington show, as the two passed the lead back and forth for all 125 laps.
In the final laps, the No. 20 RGC Sports/QwickWick Chevrolet had opened a significant lead over the No. 17 and fans stood on their feet ready to celebrate the Rookie’s first NASCAR win.
But racing, “it ain’t over, till it’s over.” The white flag flew with Lapcevich leading but Kennington was hot on his heels.
In the final turns, Kennington gave him the “bump and run’, taking the lead and delegating Lapcevich to a second-place result. After the race, the Rookie showed his displeasure for the move, exchanging heated words with Kennington in Victory Lane.
Will sparks fly again tonight at @delawarespeedway 💥
— NASCAR Pinty’s Series (@NASCARPintys) September 26, 2021
Sunday gave the Grimsby, Ont. native two more chances at his first NASCAR Pinty’s win.
Lapcevich claimed a third pole award for the QwickWick 125, setting a new track record in the process.
The green flag dropped and the No. 20 Chevrolet controlled the race until lap 80. On a restart, he lost the lead to Brandon Watson, got pushed back to fourth and continued to drop positions.
With 40 to go, Lapcevich had a tire going down that caused him to spin, collecting his teammate Alex Tagliani.
He visited pit road to repair some damage, and replace his tire, then rejoined the field a lap down.
On the next caution, he was given the free pass and continued to push his way forward. He made it back up to fifth where he finished, still on the lead lap.
All that remained was the Pinty’s Fall Brawl and based on his lap time from race one, Lapcevich had claimed the pole award once again, winning four in a row.
After briefly losing the lead at the start, he then controlled the field for 123 laps. With 20 to go, Lapcevich spun while trying to avoid a lap car that had stopped on track.
Restarting seventh, the No. 20 was ready to get back to the lead but as the field hit the green flag, Lapcevich got bumped during a side-by-side battle, sending him into the inside wall, destroying his front end.
The damage ended his day, finishing the Pinty’s Fall Brawl in 15th and despite not claiming a win in 2021 Lapcevich did leave Delaware with the Jostens Rookie of the Year Award.
— NASCAR Pinty’s Series (@NASCARPintys) September 28, 2021