Cayden Lapcevich of Grimsby, Ontario will take a break from studying to compete in the biggest stock car event of the year in his home country. Lapcevich, the 2016 NASCAR Pinty’s Series Champion, will strap into a Pro Late Model for this weekend’s inaugural Canadian Short Track Nationals at Jukasa Motor Speedway.
Getting an offer to get back behind the wheel for the $50,000-to-win race weekend was hard for Lapcevich to turn down, especially when the offer came from a long-time family friend.
“We’re running with Tony Blanchard and Race 101. We’ve known Tony ever since we got into racing,” Lapcevich told Speed51.com. “He helped my dad out quite a bit when we started quarter midgets. We’ve kept in contact throughout the years and he’s followed my racing. He called my dad a couple weeks ago and he said he thinks he had the perfect package for this. He thinks we could have a good shot at winning the fifty grand and he thinks it would be a good opportunity. I mean it was something I couldn’t really pass up; it was an awesome race car and an awesome team and I loved working with Tony as little kid.”
The 18-year-old has been attending the University of Northern Ohio since graduating high school, which has forced him to cut back on his racing schedule this season. Looking back at his last race, Lapcevich realizes that there will be a small adjustment period once he returns to the seat.
“The last race I ran was the CRA race at Toledo at the end of June. I’m not too worried about it. I always keep myself busy in racing,” he stated. “I have iRacing so it’s just a way I can stay into it and sort of keep myself in line with how the cars drive. I haven’t really stepped away from it, I help my brother every weekend and I’m always at the race track. Being behind the wheel I might not be cut out for 200 laps right away, but I think it will just come back to me.”
Lapcevich will enter this weekend’s big race with something that many of the contenders won’t have: experience at the 5/8-mile Jukasa Motor Speedway. Despite having this advantage, he knows that there will be a lot of pressure from the racers coming from south of the border.
“There’s going to be a lot of guys in the race that haven’t raced there before,” Lapcevich began. “The advantage that we’re going to have over guys like Bubba Pollard, Brian Campbell, and Johnny VanDoorn is that I sort of know how the track flows and how the racing goes there, how to work the racing line through out a long race.
“Bubba Pollard is one of the best in the business and it probably won’t take him long to figure that out over the day. I think we have a little bit of an advantage there. As I said Bubba Pollard, Brian Campbell and those guys are the best in the business when it comes to Pro [Late Models] and Super [Late Models]. They’re going to be hard to beat regardless.”
With practice limited to just three session on Sunday, Lapcevich was pleased to shake the cobwebs off and test with the Race 101 team last weekend. With a new setup and different equipment under him, he’s feeling confident after the test.
“We tested Saturday so I think we have a good baseline to what we can work off,” Lapcevich explained. “It was a little bit different testing with Tony because we were on a different tire, and he’s never run the shock/spring combo he’s running right now. It was a day full of learning for us and we made good adjustments before we got rained on. I think we’re going to be in good condition going into the race Sunday.”
Lapcevich is also excited to race alongside his younger brother, Treyten, who is following in his footsteps.
Like many racers, Lapcevich’s opportunity to race in Canada’s richest short track event is made possible thanks to his supporters.
“I can’t thank Tony and everyone at Race 101 for the opportunity. I also want to thank Ace Services, The Basement Store, Construct Homes, and Clean Slate Landscaping for making this all happen.”
Those who can’t make it out to the beautiful Jukasa Motor Speedway this weekend will be able to watch Saturday and Sunday’s racing via a live pay-per-view video stream on Speed51.com.
-Story by Kendra Adams, Speed51.com Canadian Correspondent