A trip east was just what Marc-Antoine Camirand needed.
After leading 305 of the opening 559 laps of the season only to go winless in the opening three rounds of the 2022 NASCAR Pinty’s Series season, Camirand held off Treyten Lapcevich through a pair of late restarts to claim the PRO•LINE 225 Presented by QwickWick.
“That car was awesome,” Camirand said. “We (led) a lot of laps. Not the fastest car in qualifying, but that car is so good on the long run and we proved that again today.
“So happy for my crew. They did an awesome job all winter long to work. The engine builders and fab did fab did a great job. In the end it’s a team effort. We win as a team and we lose as a team, so I’m so proud of the Paillé Racing Team.”
Sunday’s race was the first for the NASCAR Pinty’s Series at Eastbound International Speedway, requiring teams to transport their cars by ferry from North Sydney, Nova Scotia to Argentia, Newfoundland and Labrador. The race was held as part of the province’s Come Home 2022 celebration.
Originally slatted to run on Saturday, rain pushed the race to Sunday morning, the showdown proved to be eventful from the moment the green flag first waved when it finally got underway.
Brandon Watson led the field to green, diving into the lead from pole on the inside lane in Turn 1. A caution flew moments later as Brett Taylor collided hard with the inside jersey barrier, yielding an early red flag for barrier repairs. Taylor emerged from his car under his own power, but his race was over.
That set the tempo for what proved to be an eventful 225 laps. There were 11 cautions and a pair of red flags outside of the planned halfway break, pushing the race well beyond the two-hour mark. The first red was for Taylor, while a second was put out after reigning champion, L.P. Dumoulin clattered into the track’s outside water barrels with 106 to go, forcing a delay for cleanup and track drying.
Through the myriad runs, Camirand steadily positioned himself to compete for the win. The Quebecois driver quickly marched forward from his fifth-place starting spot, taking second from Andrew Ranger shortly after a Lap 33 restart and moving past Watson for the top spot with 139 to go.
Lapcevich had faded back from second in the early laps, but the 18-year-old kept his composure and lurked behind Camirand for the second half of the race. He managed to stay on Camirand’s outside on a trio of late restarts, but ultimately lost out on the top spot after Camirand muscled him up by the wall at the exit of Turn 4 on both occasions.
“It would have been a different story if (Camirand) would have given us a lane there,” Lapcevich said. “Three restarts in a row I almost got him on the outside and he just (ran) me into the fence on the front stretch. It is what it is.”
DJ Kennington rallied after hitting the wall and suffering a flat right-front tire on Lap 11 to salvage a third-place run.
“There’s only one thing you can do there, is blame me,” he said. “I hit the wall on the back straightaway and flattened it myself. Just a rookie mistake, I guess. But we fought back hard with the Castrol Edge Dodge. It was really good.”
Watson’s strong start ended with a fourth-place result at race’s end. Gary Klutt showed pace, but settled for fifth after struggling to march higher throughout the day.
Dexter Stacey came home in sixth, just ahead of Kevin Lacroix after a mediocre day for the St-Eustache, QC., driver that entered the weekend tied with Alex Tagliani for the points lead. Tagliani suffered mid-race mechanical issues, relegating him to 15th at the end.
Raphael Lessard, J.P. Bergeron and Mark Dilley completed the top-10. Out of 22 cars entered, 17 made it to the checkered flag, with 13 finishing on the lead lap. Among the DNFs was Ranger, who led early but stopped with engine woes after 42 laps. He was classified 20th.
The PRO•LINE 225 Presented by QwickWick will air on TSN next. The exact time and date is yet to be determined.
Next up for the NASCAR Pinty’s Series is a return to the Streets of Toronto at Exhibition Place on Friday, July 15. The last time the series visited the series the city street circuit was in 2019, when Tagliani claimed the with after battling with, then teammate, Camirand.