DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – L.P. Dumoulin returns from the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series presented by Mobil 1’s annual western swing to his native Quebec with the championship points lead as the 2014 season reaches the halfway mark with Saturday’s National 250 at Autodrome St-Eustache.
The successful venture to Alberta and Saskatchewan saw Dumoulin and his No. 47 WeatherTech Canada/Bellemare Dodge team record a runner-up finish at Edmonton International Raceway on July 11 and the team’s first oval track victory five days later at Auto Clearing Motor Speedway.
With three-straight podium finishes and top fives in all five events this year, the pilot from Trois-Rivieres brings a 10-point championship lead back to Quebec.
Dumoulin’s background is in road racing, a refined discipline that led to his first two Canadian Tire Series victories last year in a season sweep at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park. Only recently has he been able to find similar success on the ovals. All five of his top-five oval finishes have come in the last calendar year.
“That make me feel confident that we can compete seriously for the championship,” Dumoulin said. “It is an awesome feeling to know that you can win on both tracks. You show up every weekend thinking that you have a shot to win.”
Dumoulin believes the experience he has accumulated on the ovals through the last three seasons has led to increased success. The 35-year-old driver just started racing full-time in the Canadian Tire Series in 2012.
“More experience is the key,” Dumoulin said. “Being out there working with my team and trying to understand a little more every session, watching races from the past few years, learning from your good and bad races [also keys to the improvement].”
As the series heads to St-Eustache for the Canadian Tire Series’ sixth all-time running at the .4-mile oval, Dumoulin looks forward to improving on a sixth place result last year in his first start there that was earned despite running the last 30 laps on just seven cylinders.
“That track is at little bit like Edmonton, so I think we will be competitive,” Dumoulin said. “Plus, [new crew chief] Mario Gosselin had a quick car there last year with Martin Roy, so I think we can do very well.”
Riding a career-best streak of five top-five finishes in a row – including road courses and ovals – Dumoulin feels good about carrying the points lead through St-Eustache and beyond.
“It’s our first year working all together, and we’re still learning each other, so the plan is to keep improving every weekend and to go get the big trophy at the end of the season,” Dumoulin said. “But we will never take anything for granted, and move on smartly to each race.”
The Race: The 2014 NASCAR Canadian Tire Series presented by Mobil 1 schedule will pass the halfway point with the National 250 at Autodrome St-Eustache as the sixth of 11 events.
The Procedure: The maximum starting field is 22 cars, including provisionals. The first 19 cars will have secured starting positions through two-lap time trials while the remaining three spots will be awarded through the provisional process. The race is scheduled for 250 laps (100 miles).
The Track: The Autodrome St-Eustache racing complex, located west of Montreal, consists of a .4-mile flat oval, a 1.7-kilometer road course and a .125-mile drag strip. There is also a karting track on the premises. The track was founded in 1965 as Fury Speedway de Fabreville, and the current configuration has played host various types of racing since 1970. The track was purchased by Alan Labrosse prior to the 2008 race season.
Pole Winners: The first five St-Eustache races have produced five different pole winners. D.J. Kennington has the track qualifying record at 17.210 seconds (83.672 mph), set in 2009.
Race Winners: Defending race winner Scott Steckly leads the way with three wins in five all-time St-Eustache events, including the inaugural 2008 event.
St-Eustache Race Notes:
Challenging Schedule Stretch Concludes: The toughest stretch on the 2014 NASCAR Canadian Tire Series presented by Mobil 1 schedule will conclude with Saturday’s National 250 at Autodrome St-Eustache. The series embarked on an aggressive bundle of four events in a 21-day span starting with Circuit ICAR on July 6. The second date came on July 11 at Alberta’s Edmonton International Raceway and continued on July 16 at Auto Clearing Motor Speedway in Saskatoon.
Steckly Looks to Defend ASE Win: Defending National 250 winner Scott Steckly is still in search of his first win in 2014 after taking home four checkered flags a year ago en route to a third series title. A DNF in the season opener at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park had Steckly in an early hole but he’s finished in the top 10 in the four outings since, highlighted by a third-place effort last time out in Saskatoon. He ranks fifth in points heading to St-Eustache.
Hathaway’s Oval Success: Jason Hathaway continues to prove that his No. 3 Ed Hakonson Racing Chevrolet team is a contender to win each and every time out on the ovals. Hathaway has finished on the podium in seven of the series’ last nine oval events dating back to the 2013, including three wins. He won the first oval event of 2013 at Quebec’s Autodrome Chaudiere and recorded finishes of third and second in the recent western swing. Hathaway has three top fives in five previous starts at St-Eustache.
Kennington’s Drought: A nine-race winless drought is normally not newsworthy, but when you’re tied for the most victories in Canadian Tire Series history, the standards are different. D.J. Kennington last won on Aug. 11, 2013 at Circuit de Trois-Rivieres, nine races ago. The nine-race drought is the third-longest of his career, exceeded only by a 10-race stretch in 2009 and a 16-race span from 2007-09. Kennington won at St-Eustache in 2010 and has three top fives in five starts there.
Last Time Out: Saskatoon
The fifth race of the 2014 NASCAR Canadian Tire Series presented by Mobil 1 was contested on July 16 at Auto Clearing Motor Speedway in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Here are some highlights from the Velocity Prairie Thunder 300:
• L.P. Dumoulin recorded his first oval victory, and third overall, when he emerged ahead of the field in a green-white-checkered flag finish.
• Jason Hathaway finished as the runner-up to record his third straight oval podium.
• Scott Steckly earned his 13th career pole prior to the event and finished third. He led a race-high 153 laps, which was the third-highest single-race total of his career.
• Alex Tagliani finished fifth for his best career oval finish while Joey McColm tied his personal best race result with a sixth place effort.
Next Time Out: Trois-Rivieres
Following the National 250, the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series presented by Mobil 1 will return to Quebec for the JuliaWine.com Le 50 Tours at Quebec’s Circuit de Trois-Rivieres on Aug. 9-10. The Canadian Tire Series has participated in the three-day Grand Prix Trois-Rivieres festival, held on a 1.53-mile street course, each year since 2007. D.J. Kennington is the defending winner of the race.
NASCAR IMC – Getty Images for NASCAR