The Verizon IndyCar Series isn’t the only race series competing at Exhibition Place in Toronto this weekend. In fact, it’ll be the NASCAR Pinty’s Series, some of Canada’s best stock car drivers, that will be headlining Saturday’s events.
The race will mark the fifth time the Pinty’s Series will compete on the Streets of Toronto, accompanying the IndyCar Series. In all four previous starts, it’s been the Quebecois stars who have shone.
Last year’s race was dominated and won by Kevin Lacroix, who ended up finishing second in the points standings to current NASCAR XFINITY Series driver Alex Labbe.
Lacroix led 29 of 35 laps, but he didn’t go unchallenged.
L.P. Dumoulin, the winner of this year’s first race at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, finished second. Three more French-Canadian drivers in Andrew Ranger, Alex Tagliani and Marc-Antoine Camirand also proved to be stout challengers throughout the race. All five of last year’s contenders will be back in the hunt this year.
A pair of new challengers will also be in Toronto this year.
James Vance, one of Canada’s young sports car racing stars, will make his second career Pinty’s Series start in a part-time effort for Canada’s Best Racing Team (CBRT). Vance had a successful debut at CTMP in May by finishing eighth.
Cole Powell will also make his first street in Ontario’s capital. Powell, not known for his road course racing prowess, is a talented short track driver with starts in ARCA and the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour. He turned heads at Jukasa Motor Speedway in June, finishing second. He followed that up by finishing fourth at Autodrome Chaudiere a few weeks later. With only three series starts, the Mt. Brydges, Ont. native finds himself sitting second in the points.
Pete Shepherd, a long-time mainstay in Canadian short track racing, will make his first ever Pinty’s start on a street course Saturday. He has three starts at CTMP, but never on either Trois-Rivieres or Toronto. The five-time Pinty’s Series race winner will be looking for a strong result this weekend.
One driver looking to end a long winless drought this weekend will be former NASCAR Next star Gary Klutt.
Klutt only has one Pinty’s Series win; that came to open the 2015 season at CTMP. Since that win, Klutt’s struggled a bit, only scoring two top-five finishes since.
If there’s any one driver coming into Toronto feeling refreshed and confident, it has to be D.J. Kennington, who just scored a career-best Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series finish.
Kennington has raced in the Cup Series seven times this year, including this past weekend at Daytona International Speedway where he finished 13th. The 40-year-old even found himself in contention for a top-five or -10 finish near the end of the race. Much like Klutt, Kennington finds himself in the middle of a long winless streak. The two-time series champion won his most recent race in 2013.
Also entered in this weekend’s race are J.F. Dumoulin, Adam Martin, Jason White, Donald Theetge, Larry Jackson, Peter Klutt, Brett Taylor, David Thorndyke and Anthony Simone.