Gomes' SRL Hot Streak Continues at Irwindale
May 22, 2022
Go faster, move or get moved.
That was essentially the philosophy employed by Kevin Lacroix that sent him to Victory Lane on Sunday in the Ebay 200 at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park at the expense of Gary Klutt in the final corner.
Lacroix had dominated the race to the tune of a 10 second lead before a caution with four laps to go set up a pair of green-white-checkered shootouts. On the second overtime, Klutt surprisingly took the lead from Lacroix but started to fade back to Lacroix and Alex Tagliani.
Klutt blocked Lacroix low in Turn 8 and there was contact as a result. Lacroix remained at Klutt’s quarter-panel through Turn 9. And in corner entry, Lacroix also turned Klutt into the wall and drove away to the start-finish line.
Behind them both, Tagliani was surprised Klutt took the lead on the restart in the first place.
"I was surprised he went for it, because when you're the leader in the last few corners, you're kind of a sitting duck," Tagliani said. "I just watched and didn't see any championship contenders behind me, so I wanted to play it safe."
Lacroix said he agreed, but also said Klutt needed to be faster to avoid that outcome.
"Whether I'm leading or running second, it doesn't change how I drive," Lacroix said. "If I'm faster, I'm faster and I'll get by him whenever I can, and that's different for him.
"He was faster than me when he passed but then he just struggled so much on the last lap. If you don't belong there, move out of there, that’s my thinking.
"I won't slow down so much that Alex spins me out because I have to watch my back too. He slowed down so much in corners 8,9 and 10, that I had nowhere to go really. I tried outside, inside. That's my point of view.
"For fans, that’s a good show, and when I was entering the last lap, I didn’t want to do it that way because it's open for interpretation. I'd rather win by 15 seconds like I was. I had nowhere to go. He slowed down too much."
The victory was his 15th in 17 series starts and also propelled the 33-year-old into the championship lead. The race featured a lot of attrition despite running green entirely until four laps to go. MA Camirand led early but suffered a fuel pickup issue. That was also the case for second running LP Dumoulin, a three-time series champion. Andrew Ranger had a rear suspension issue.
Treyten Lapcevich finished sixth and holds second in the standings ahead of Tagliani, who consistently ran inside the top-five and gave himself a shot at both the win and continued pursuit of his first NASCAR championship.
The first half of the race was contested on wet tires following a weekend long thunderstorm, but the finish saw the track dry out and teams swap over to dry slicks.
As for Lacroix, he didn’t want the finish to play out this way, but he again felt Klutt left him no choice how they got into Turn 9.
"Every move I make there is about setting myself up to be in a good position for Turn 10," Lacroix said. "To make that move in Turn 9, that meant I had nowhere to go, really. That’s why I feel so confident about the move."
NASCAR Pinty's Series Ebay 200
Canadian Tire Motorsports Park
May 22 2022