Former NASCAR Pinty’s Series champion Cayden Lapcevich has joined the Paille Racing Team as a crew chief for fellow champion Andrew Ranger.
Six years ago, Cayden Lapcevich and Andrew Ranger engaged in a tough battle for the NASCAR Pinty‘s Series championship, with Lapcevich ultimately coming out on top by 54 points.
The two experienced Canadian competitors now find themselves working together to achieve the same goal, as Lapcevich will serve as Ranger‘s crew chief for the new Paille Racing Team during the 2022 Pinty‘s Series season.
Lapcevich has always respected Ranger‘s ability to navigate every type of track in Canada and is confident he can use his own knowledge from the Pinty‘s Series to help Ranger tie Scott Steckly in championships with four apiece.
“It‘s funny how the world works sometimes, especially with how this deal came together,” Lapcevich said. “[Andrew and I] were racing each other for a championship in 2016, and now here we are trying to get one as a team. He‘s a clean, respectful driver, and I always enjoyed racing with him.”
Being a crew chief is not where Lapcevich envisioned his career would go after becoming a Pinty‘s Series champion in 2016, yet he is thrilled to continue the passion that was passed down to him by his father Jeff and grandfather Joe.
The advice Joe and Jeff provided Cayden Lapcevich in the early days of his career helped him transition into Pinty‘s Series competition. After getting one top five in six starts back in 2015, Lapcevich entered 2016 optimistic he could at least claim his first Pinty‘s Series victory.
Not once did Lapcevich believe that 2016 season would see him outrun veterans like Ranger, Alex Tagliani and Kevin Lacroix for three victories and a championship.
“A championship was something we did not think was going to happen that year,” Lapcevich said. “We even lost a major sponsor and were only going to run select events, but we pieced it together as we went and winning the championship that way just made it all the more special.”
Lapcevich followed up his championship campaign with another three-win season and a third-place finish in the point standings. With momentum on his side and plenty of attention surrounding him, Lapcevich was excited to embark on the next step of his NASCAR career.
Unfortunately for Lapcevich, the opportunity to compete in one of NASCAR‘s top three divisions never arrived, and funding issues have prevented him from making another Pinty‘s Series start since the end of the 2017 season.
Instead, Lapcevich has spent the last few years primarily running various cars in the United States. Lapcevich had minimal issues carrying over his efficiency in Canada to the U.S., as he tallied two victories in Toledo Speedway‘s Glass City 200 while also stringing together several strong runs in a Super Late Model fielded by Bobby Blount.
RACING-REFERENCE: Career NASCAR stats for Lapcevich
Lapcevich still wants to continue racing whenever he has an opportunity to do so, but he is now solely focused on making sure Ranger has everything he needs to make a serious run for his fourth Pinty‘s Series championship.
Ranger said Lapcevich always challenged him as a driver whenever they shared the track together, adding that having a fellow champion atop the pit box has only provided him more comfort in his ability to establish consistency with the Paille Racing Team in their first Pinty‘s Series season.
“It‘s a great opportunity to have Cayden crew chief me,” Ranger said. “He‘s very intelligent and whenever I raced against him in the past, we always did well together. Cayden‘s a great driver but he really likes the crew chief role, so when I was asked if Cayden could be my crew chief, I quickly said yes.”
The all-time Pinty‘s Series wins leader, Ranger has found success in nearly every single car he has climbed into. Outside of his 30 career Pinty‘s Series victories, Ranger has also visited Victory Lane seven times with Robert Torriere between the three ARCA Menards Series divisions.
RACING-REFERENCE: Career NASCAR stats for Ranger
Of the drivers Ranger has raced against during his long career, he recalls Lapcevich being one of the more well-rounded when it comes to tackling a diverse Pinty‘s Series schedule that features an even mix of road courses and short tracks. It did not surprise Ranger one bit to see Lapcevich showcase that same maturity while driving in the U.S..
With Lapcevich as his crew chief and David Wight supplying the chassis for his No. 27 Chevrolet, Ranger has high expectations for the 2022 Pinty‘s Series season and is looking forward to seeing what the team accomplishes together when the new year gets underway.
“I‘d love to get that fourth championship,” Ranger said. “My goal is to tie Scott Steckly, and right now I‘m tied with L.P. Dumoulin. I‘m going to give it my all to try and get a championship at the end, but I really want to give Cayden his first win as a crew chief.”
Saturday‘s Pinty Series opener at Sunset Speedway will serve as the first real test for Lapcevich and Ranger‘s new working relationship.
Although neither has won a Pinty‘s Series event at Sunset, Lapecvich said the familiarity he has with the short track along with the experience of both Ranger and Wight should put the team in a great position to win right away.
“Sunset is a place I know really well,” Lapcevich said. “It was where I raced weekly after I got out of quarter midgets, so I like going there. We always seemed to miss it just by a little bit every time we went there, but we‘ve always been good there, and Wight won twice at Sunset with Raphael Lessard last year, so I think we can start on a good note this weekend.”
Both Lapcevich and Ranger are aware victories will be hard to come by in the Pinty‘s Series this year. The 2022 driver roster includes Lessard, former champions like Dumoulin and D.J. Kennington, as well at Lapcevich‘s younger brother Treyten, who happens to be driving a car fielded by the all-time series champion in Steckly.
Despite the tough competition, Lapcevich is familiar with the parity the Pinty‘s Series has to offer. He said the strategy that won him his lone title can easily help Ranger reach a pivotal milestone in his own career.
“We‘re going to do the same thing that won us a title in 2016,” Lapcevich said. “That involves making the right calls and keeping the car up front all the time.”
Through his unconventional path back to the Pinty‘s Series, Lapcevich has cherished every chance to race between Canada and the U.S., but he feels right at home assisting one of the most successful drivers in his home country.
Now that his future has more clarity, Lapcevich hopes to keep building upon his family’s proud racing legacy by becoming a championship-winning crew chief.