In warm sunshine and in front of a monster crowd, Louise-Phillipe Dumoulin of Trois-Rivieres, Que., won the Vortex Brake Pads 200 at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park on Sunday.
Jeff Lapcevich of Grimsby was second and Jason Hathaway of Dutton, Ont., was third in the opening race of the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series stock car racing season.
Defending champion D.J. Kennington of St. Thomas finished fourth and Robin Buck of Campbellville was fifth. The rest of the Top Ten: Kerry Micks of Mt. Albert, Ty Dillon of Charlotte, N.C. (a Camping World Truck Series regular doing reconnaisance for the truck race at CTMP on Labour Day weekend), Noel Dowler of Sherwood Park, Alta., Trevor Seibert of Williams Lake, B.C., and Brad Graham of Glencoe, Ont.
It was the first NASCAR Canada victory for Dumoulin, who also races sports cars (ALMS and Rolex Grand Am).
Two of the race favourites were eliminated early in the race. Pole-sitter J.R. Fitzpatrick of Cambridge dropped out with a broken drive shaft and two-time Canadian Tire champion Scott Steckly of Milverton crashed. He wasn't injured but his trip into the tire wall in Turn Three was spectacular.
Steckly said he might have hit some oil, he wasn't sure, but that "I lost the front" end and couldn't help hitting the tires.
"It's awful (the crash)," he said. "I feel badly for my crew, who worked so hard, and for all my sponsors, particularly Canadian Tire."
Dumoulin, a driving coach in his "off hours," said he was delighted to have won. He finished fifth a year ago in this race.
"The sponsors gave us a great program over the winter," he said, adding he likes racing at Old Mosport and has wonderful memories of competing at the Bowmanville-area circuit years ago when he raced in Formula 1600.
He said his plan was to save his car - prepared for him by Steckly, by the way - for the end of the race, to save his brakes and to keep calm.
Asked about the calibre of competition in the Canadian Tire series, Dumoulin said it was second to none, pointing out that "ex-F1 guys" (Max Papis) and "old IRL guys" (Alex Tagliani) have raced in the series and haven't dominated.
Lapcevich said he'd wanted to do well to honour the memory of his father, Joe Lapcevich, who died recently. "The support of family, friends and sponsors" was amazing, he said.
He said he'd tried to rattle Dumoulin in the last few laps but had wound up rattling himself instead. "I overshot Turn One," and by the time he regained controlf of his car, Dumoulin was too far in front to catch.
Hathaway, who has entered all 76 races since NASCAR purchased the old CASCAR series from founder Tony Novotny and rebranded it the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series, scored his best career finish. He was eighth here a year ago.
Oh, by the way, just to get all of the proper sponsor plugs in: the name of the race, the series and the locale, officially, is:
The Pinty’s presents the Vortex Brake Pads 200; the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series presented by Mobil 1; Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.
The Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Michelin held its second race of the weekend. David Ostella of Maple, who raced in Indy Lights in recent years, took the checkered flag in Platinum Cup over Saturday’s race winner Spencer Pigot. For the second straight day, Tim Sanderson was the victor in Gold Cup.
Sunday's racing action also saw the Canadian Touring Car Championship complete their weekend doubleheader. Scott Nichol took the win in Super Touring over Benjamin Distaulo. Michel Sallenbach was first in the Touring Class and Karl Wittmer took the victory in B-Spec.
In Canadian Supercar, Frank Fusillo went to the top step of the podium in the S1 class over Guy Leclerc. Simon Dion-Viens was first in S2.
The final race of the weekend saw Florida native Doug Peterson win the SCCCA Trans-Am Series race over defending Series champion Tony Ave.
Jimmie Johnson won the NASCAR All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway Saturday night, or Sunday morning - I'm not sure which. It was the witching hour, in any event. Johnson, who won the non-points, gimmicky event for the fourth time, took home a cheque totalling more than $1 million.
Meantime, at Brands Hatch in England, Canadian driver Robbie Wickens finished a career-best third in the German Touring Car Series (DTM) race there. Wickens joined another Canadian, Quebec driver Bruno Spengler, on the podium. Spengler finished second behind winner Mike Rockenfeller. Wickens was in a Mercedes, Spengler in a BMW and Rockenfeller in an Audi. Watch the video here.
Said Wickens: "This is my first podium in the DTM and, what's more, it comes after starting from 13th on the grid at Brands Hatch where overtaking is notoriously difficult. I certainly wasn't counting on that before the race. My target was just to finish in the points.
"To make that happen, I knew I would have to get off to a good start and overtake the drivers on the prime tires. This strategy worked well. I was pleasantly surprised by my race pace and I was even able to go past drivers on options when I was on primes. The middle stint went perfectly for me. I had two excellent pit stops and was able to control my part of the race right through to the end.
"Afterwards, I was in the middle of an interview when I was told to hurry along to the podium. So after a physically draining 98-lap race, I had to run the full length of the pit lane to the podium ceremony. But it was well worthwhile. It was a great feeling to taste champagne for the first time in my DTM career."