Race No. 2: Lucas Oil Grand Prix At Circuit ICAR

[media-credit name=”NASCAR Home Tracks” align=”alignright” width=”200″][/media-credit]Last year, Circuit ICAR hosted it’s first ever NASCAR Canadian Tire (NCAT) Series event and the event was a success with lots of Quebec fans coming out to watch. This year, the NCAT cars return as they are ready to put on another show on the 2.113 mile road course that is set-up on the grounds of Mirabel Airport.

Robin Buck put on a show last year as he was the inaugural race winner, leading two laps to score his first ever NCAT victory. He then backed it up with a second win on the season at Circuit de Trois-Riveres in the rain. With rain in forecast for the weekend, Buck could pick up his third career win. Buck is one of the drivers that comes in as a road course expert, against the guys that are looking to run the full schedule.

One of those drivers looking to run the full schedule and get his first ever NCAT championship is J.R. Fitzpatrick. Fitzpatrick won the first race of the season at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (CTMP) for the seventh win of his career. It marked his sixth win on a road course and his third at CTMP.

After his win at CTMP, Fitzpatrick said that he looked forward to carrying that momentum forward.

“We’re just going to keep on rolling, keep on getting podiums,” he said. “They don’t always have to be wins.”

He hopes a change in his attitude, for the positive, will be the difference this year. Other years, Fitzpatrick would quickly get frustrated with the situation and that would take him out of contention. However, this year, its all about a good attitude.

“I had a really bad attitude the last couple of years,” the Cambridge, Ontario native said. “That got all fine tuned over the winter with (crew chief) Donny (Thomson Jr.) being back, I think. He’s not shy; he’s put me in my place real quick.”

Another driver looking to win this weekend at Circuit ICAR is Quebec native Andrew Ranger. Last year, he started at the rear of the 27-car field after running an ARCA event the night before. He found his way to the lead on lap 28 of the 30-lap race, though made excessive contact with Alex Tagliani getting there and was given an aggressive driving penalty. He was credited with a 21st-place finish.

“Let’s just say I hope this one turns out better,” Ranger says.

Ranger is no stranger to NCAT competition as he is a two-time series champion and has won in 11 of his 20 road course starts.

“I’m really happy to be back in the Canadian Tire Series,” Ranger says. “It’s a place where I’m very comfortable.”

Ranger, Fitzpatrick and Buck will have to get past Steckly if they want to have a shot at a win. Last year’s champion is hunting for his first ever NCAT road course victory after finishing second last year at Circuit ICAR. He has three consecutive top-five finishes dating back to last season and has scored a top-10 finish in five of his last six series starts.

Steckly will have to contend with his new teammate L.P. Dumoulin, who finished fourth last year for a career best finish. Last year’s rookie of the year looks for his first top three finish to add to his streak of four straight top 10s on road courses.

Coming off a decent run at CTMP, Jeff Lapcevich is hoping to have a good shot at the win. He finished sixth last year at Circuit ICAR and has a streak going of five straight top 10s in NCAT action. Lapcevich grew up racing on road courses and feels he’s got a good shot.

“I think we have as good a chance as anybody to win,” he comments.

Last year, Jason Hathaway finished 15th, though it was the first race after breaking his arm at CTMP. Hathaway ran most of the season with the injury, not putting the season together that he wanted. However, in previous years, he’s been successful on the road courses. In 2010, he was able to score five top 10s in six road course starts.

Following ICAR, the series switches gears as they will have their first oval race of 2012.

“I know some guys are looking forward to that,” Hathaway says. “We’re ready to go. The car just got decalled the other day; it’s going to match the road course car, look the same. I know we got a lot of comments – looked sharp last weekend. Can’t wait to get started.”

The race is scheduled to take the green flag on Sunday, June 3 at 1:30 p.m. ET. The race’s television premier is scheduled for Saturday, June 16 at 12:30 p.m. ET on TSN and Wednesday, June 27 at 10 p.m. ET on RDS2.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpeedwayMedia.com.

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