Coming off their biggest event of the year where they shared the stage with the Verizon IndyCar Series on the Streets of Toronto, the NASCAR Pinty’s Series heads west to Alberta for their first of two races on the Western Swing.
Edmonton International Raceway plays host to the Pinty’s Series’s sixth race of the season. The quarter-mile short track first started hosting the Pinty’s Series in 2014, and is back for its third running of the race on Saturday.
Saturday’s race at EIR will be a crucial race for championship contenders as it marks the halfway point in the season, and it’s the first of two West Coast races in four days. It will be important for teams to manage a clean race so they can load up the car and head to Wyant Group Raceway in Saskatoon a few days later.
Leaving Toronto with a win was former IndyCar driver, Alex Tagliani. Tagliani has won in Edmonton, Alberta once in the series, but it came at the temporary road course of Edmonton City Centre Airport. Tagliani goes to Edmonton with redemption on his mind. In the 2014 race, he led 268 of 316 laps before a late race wreck ended his chances of winning. He finished a disappointing 13th. The following year, Tagliani only left Edmonton with a seventh-place finish. The French-Canadian isn’t competing for the driver’s championship, but his No. 18 EpiPen car is second in the owner’s points, and a good run could propel him to the lead.
The team ahead of Tagliani in the owner’s championship fight is Andrew Ranger’s No. 27 DJK Racing Dodge. Ranger also leads the driver’s championship, and heads to Edmonton following a solid second-place finish in Toronto. Ranger won the inaugural Alberta Has Energy 300 in 2014, and told OnPitRoad.com’s Tyson Lautenschlager that his team is ready for the Western Swing. He said that he’s especially excited for Edmonton because he does well there.
Cayden Lapcevich had only planned on racing twice this year at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park and Sunset Speedway, but after a string of top-five and -10 results, Lapcevich finds himself in the title hunt. The rookie out of Grimsby, Ontario will be making his first trip out to Alberta in the Pinty’s Series, and could very well find himself in victory lane. The 16-year-old finds himself more comfortable on the ovals than he does on the road and street courses, but he survived both Circuit ICAR and Toronto with eighth-place finishes. He’s been just on the cusp of winning an oval event, so Edmonton could be just that race.
A pair of podium finishes for full-time competitors L.P. Dumoulin and Jason Hathaway at Edmonton the last two years make the two drivers strong challengers for a win on Saturday. Dumoulin has finished second in both Edmonton races, while Hathaway finished third in both races respectively. Dumoulin and Hathaway sit eighth and ninth in the point standings. Hathaway told OnPitRoad.com’s Ashley McCubbin that with the championship out of the picture, his team can just go no holds barred for wins. If that’s the case, look for Hathaway to make for some aggressive moves in order to get to the front.
Along with other usual Pinty’s Series competitors entered in the field like Gary Klutt, Kevin Lacroix, Alex Labbe, Mark Dilley, D.J. Kennington, Larry Jackson and Josh Collins, several Western drivers are entered in the field to try and steal a win.
Sherwood Park, Alberta brothers Ian and Kelly Admiraal will both be in the field. Ian will drive the No. 83 for Admiraal Racing, while Kelly will drive No. 56 Jim Bray-owned car. Neither brother has raced in the series for a while as Kelly last raced in 2013, and Ian last drove in 2014.
Trevor Seibert’s will also bring a pair of cars to the track. Trevor’s son Ryley will wheel the No. 69. Ryley Seibert will have big shoes to fill after his dad earned a top-10 earlier this season at Sunset. In the team’s No. 09 car will be Jamie Krzisik. Although Krzisik’s never scored a top-10 in Pinty’s Series competition, he does have a career-best second-place finish in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West.
Rounding out the entry list for Western competitors is former full-time driver Noel Dowler and Saskatchewan’s Jason Hankewich. Dowler will drive the Kevin Dowler-owned No. 53 MFP/Empire Mechanical Dodge, while Hankewich will run the second Kerry Micks owned Chevrolet.