They say you never forget your first. L.P. Dumoulin has been racing in the NASCAR Pinty’s Series since 2009 but it wasn’t until 2014 that he earned his first oval track victory, and it came in Saskatoon.
“At that point in the championship we were pretty much at mid-season,” Dumoulin remembered.
“That was telling me, ‘all right, you got a podium in Edmonton, a win in Saskatoon, you’re leading the points.’ To me it meant a lot, saying, ‘Hey, we can win this thing. We can win a championship.’”
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Dumoulin did indeed go on to win the series championship that season. But since then the wins have dried up for the 37-year-old Quebec native, and he’s hoping a return to the Bridge City in this week’s Velocity Prairie Thunder 250 will help kick-start another strong second half run.
“(We’ve had) a lot of challenges, curve balls here and there. But since Toronto, finishing fourth, and second in Edmonton, this week in Saskatoon we want to do very well and keep building on that momentum,” he said.
That means Dumoulin’s team is putting in long hours, with just three days to get his number 47 Dodge ready after a season-best second-place finish in Edmonton on July 23.
“Those guys are just doing a lot of overtime pushing it hard to make it happen. Again, a big challenge but I’ve got the best team to make it happen,” he said.
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But a talented field will be standing in his way, including overall points leader Andrew Ranger and the hottest driver on the circuit right now, Alex Tagliani, who has won the last two events and sits third overall despite starting just five of six races.
They’re joined by Kevin Lacroix, currently in fifth place overall, one point ahead of Dumoulin. The 27-year-old is making his Wyant Group Raceway debut this year.
“People say it’s either the first- or second-nicest track we have on our calendar, so I’m looking forward to racing on it. There’s a lot of room, the track is pretty wide and people seem to love it,” Lacroix said.
Meanwhile 2015 rookie of the year Gary Klutt is looking forward to his second crack at the Saskatoon track.
“I really like this track. I had a lot of fun (last year). We had bad luck last year and broke with 25 (laps) to go passing for third. We were fast here and I’m excited to get back,” Klutt said.
The green flag flies on the Velocity Prairie Thunder 250 Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.