Pro Late Model drivers from all over North America got down to business Saturday afternoon during practice day for the Canadian Short Track Nationals at Jukasa Motor Speedway. Three different drivers saw their name at the top of the speed charts after three rounds of practice.
In the opening round of practice, it was all Raphael Lessard. The 17-year-old driver from Saint-Joseph-de-Beauce, Quebec set a time of 18.784 seconds, a time nearly a full tenth quicker than second-place Brandon Watson.
Despite only having run at Jukasa once prior, Lessard is confident in his car come Sunday’s race.
“The car was really good in the corners,” Lessard said. “After what happened with the tire last year, we are really going to be pushing for a win this year.
“I can’t thank the guys at KBR enough,” he added. “They gave me a great car and I think we got a great shot.”
A few hours later, second practice would get underway. This time it would be a veteran topping the charts, in Johnny VanDoorn. The driver of the No. 71 set a time of 18.610 seconds, which would end up being over a tenth quicker then Lessard’s quick time from the first session.
Speeds picked up in the second session, with the top three drivers all entering times quicker than 18.700 seconds.
In the third and final practice session, teams came out of the gate swinging. As times continued to get faster and faster, the wide array of drivers competing for the top spot was incredible. Jordan Sims and Taylor Holdaway battled with the likes of veterans Bubba Pollard and the eventual chart topper Cayden Lapcevich.
Lapcevich set a time of 18.460, a blazing time almost two tenths quicker than VanDoorn’s time from second practice. The Grimsby, Ontario native and winner of the first NASCAR Pinty’s Series race at the refurbished Jukasa oval, was one of a handful of double-duty drivers also running Saturday night’s 75-lap Outlaw Super Late Model feature.
“This is actually one of the better cars we’ve had,” Lapcevich said. “We came out when the track was less crowded and that helped us with speed.
“We had a few issues that we dealt with in the earlier sessions,” he added “But I think we will really good, since I know this track pretty well.”
The top five quickest times were all occupied by the top five drivers in session three. Joining Lapcevich, Jordan Sims was the only other driver to run a lap time quicker than 18.5 seconds with a time of 18.481. Defending Canadian Short Track Nationals winner Bubba Pollard was third quick, clocking in at 18.514.
Knock out qualifying for the Pro Late Models will get underway at 12:30 p.m., with the heat races starting at 3 p.m. The green flag for the second annual Canadian Short Track Nationals will drop at approximately 7:45 p.m.
Race fans can watch all the action beginning at 12:30 p.m. ET on Speed51’s pay-per-view broadcast. Live video tickets can be purchased today by clicking here.
-Story by: Alex Gallacher, Speed51.com Ontario Correspondent
-Photo credit: Speed51.com / Duane Canfield