PREVIEW: Bumper to Bumper 300 at Riverside International Speedway
There may be 13 races on the NASCAR Pinty’s Series calendar, but the Bumper to Bumper 300 at Riverside International Speedway always seems to play a big role in deciding the champion. The past three years, the eventual driver to hoist the crown at the season finale visited victory lane in Nova Scotia.
L.P. Dumoulin knows that feeling all too well, as he dominated last year’s event en route to winning the series championship. He enters this weekend with momentum on his side, after the Les 50 Tours Hotel Le Concorde at Circuit de Trois-Rivieres. Another dominant run would go a long way, as he enters this weekend ranked third in the standings, 20 points behind.
As he has done most of the season, Andrew Ranger holds down the top spot in the series standings despite coming up eighth at Circuit de Trois-Rivieres. Though being one of two drivers to score a top-10 in each event, aided by three victories, it allowed him to hold the advantage. In nine starts at Riverside, he has visited victory lane once (2009) and scored five top-five’s, including a fifth and fourth the past two years.
Kevin Lacroix enters the weekend ranked second in the standings, just 14 points behind Ranger following a fourth-place finish on the streets of Quebec. The french driver has finished in the top-10 in each of his three starts at Riverside, highlighted by a runner-up to Alex Labbe in 2017.
Labbe could use another trip to victory lane as a rebound after scoring an 18th-place finish in Quebec after being involved in a crash. His return to the NASCAR Pinty’s Series hasn’t been all that spectacular, with just three top-five finishes in eight races. As noted, he knows his way around Riverside, virtue of the win and the best average finish (fifth) of active drivers.
Another driver you have to consider for the win outside of the points battle should the trend change is Mark Dilley. Statistically, he has the second-best average finish (5.9) of active drivers in the series, and won in Nova Scotia back in 2007. Despite finishing 18th in his last trip out east, he had posted a top-10 in each of his 11 prior starts at Riverside. Like Labbe, the return to full-time competition hasn’t treated the Micks Motorsports driver well, with no top-fives this season. His best finish, though, was sixth at Autodrome Chaudiere.
22 Racing has been very vocal about their struggles on the ovals, and that was on full display when the Pinty’s Series headed out east with Alex Tagliani scoring no top-five’s in those three races after winning on the streets on Toronto. As a result, he currently sits fourth in the standings, 37 points behind Ranger. Coming off a runner-up at Trois-Rivieres, a podium performance at Riverside could help give the team momentum as they look towards 2020.
On the flip side, D.J. Kennington has shown his capabilities on the ovals this year, virtue of a runner-up while at Wyant Group Raceway in Saskatoon. He also enters this weekend at Riverside with momentum following a fifth-place finish on the streets of Quebec. The Nova Scotia oval has treated him well in the past, with a pair of thirds the past two years to go with eight top-five’s in 12 starts.
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