Gingras Rebuilds for Capital City and Wins  by Marc Patrick Roy
Quebec Driver Rebounds From Wreck to Find His Way to Castrol Series Victory Lane
On Saturday, it took Alexandre Gingras some 38 minutes to complete the distance in the TOROMONT 100 at Capital City Speedway.  Gingras of Québec City, QC came to the 3/8th mile track, near Ottawa (Ontario, Canada), with his four-race-old race car, but this time, it sported a new front clip, courtesy of his spectacular accident during the previous ACT Castrol Series event held at Autodrome St-Eustache two weeks prior.  Dave Pembroke of Montpelier, VT was second, at Capital City while Patrick Laperle of St-Denis, Québec was third.

In the first qualifier: Daniel Bergeron, rookies Spencer MacPherson and Éric St-Gelais followed by Dave Pembroke all transferred to the main event by lieu of their top 4 finishing position.  Going to the consi were Jonathan Desbiens, Derek Lynch, Yvon Bédard and Dave Riopelle.
Alexandre Gingras (Center) might have earned te biggest trophy at Capital City, but Patrick Laperle (L) and Dave Pembroke did pretty well also.  (ACT/Stéphane Lazare Photos)
The 100-lap race was the third event on the ACT Castrol Series 12 race championship schedule and the only one outside the province of Québec.  It marked a return to the track, after 10 plus years of absence, by the ACT racing organization.  Last year, when track promoter, Arnie Malcolm, brought the late models back to CCS, he did it one step at a time but with a grandiose vision in mind.  At first, he included two 35-lap features in his weekly show.  Then he upped the ante by having a $1,500-to-win 50 lap event.  The drivers and the fans responded: the result was a capacity crowd, a great night of racing and the largest field to date since had taken over the track operations.

This year, he wanted his own Speedweeks.  So he signed with ACT to have a CASTROL Series event race on Saturday night and the PRO CAM trucks on Sunday.  The result: 31 cars showed up for the ACT Castrol Series race.  It was the largest Late Model car count, at the track, in many years.  This meant some competitors were going home early.

Four qualifiers, each locking in the top 4 finishers.  2 consi races, each locking in the top 3 finishers and finally, a last chance race, locking in the top 3 finishers were held to set the starting grid of the feature.

In the second qualifier Martin Lacombe, Patrick Laperle, Normand Lavigueur and Rick Rump transferred to the main event.  While Marc-André Cliche, Justin Holtom, Dany Ouellet and Stephane Durand went to the way of the consi.

In the third qualifier: the top four were Sylvain Lacombe, Alexandre Gingras, Claude Leclerc and Sean Kennedy.  Post race inspection found Lacombe to be too low he was relegated to the consi, the other three plus Jacques Poulin were locked in to the main event.  Kevin Roberge, Stephan Legault and Dave Waite were going to the consi.

Following the fourth qualifier Karl Allard, Jean-François Déry, André Coursol and Steven Boissoneault were in the show.  Steve Munro, Eric Chase and Simon Roussin still had to race their way in the main event via the consi.

The first of two consi finishing order were Lynch, Sylvain Lacombe, Riopelle, Bédard, Legault, Waite, Roberge and Desbiens.    Lynch, Lacombe and Riopelle were locked in and the others going to the last chance race.
Cliche, Holtom, Munro, Chase, Roussin, Ouellet and Durand paced the second consi with the top three being in the big show and the others going the way of the last chance race.

In the last chance race, Chase, Bédard and Roussin finished 1-2-3 and got locked in the show.  Behind them Roberge, Desbiens, Legault, Waite, Ouellet and Durand.  Desbiens, Roberge and Ouellet made the show on ACT Provisionals.  While Waite was awarded the Promoter’s provisional.

The rookie, Eric St-Gelais of St-Nicholas, QC, sat on the pole while Spencer MacPherson of nearby Carleton Place, ON a regular competitor at CSS sat on the outside of row one.  St-Gelais lead the 29 cars field around the first circuit.  Montpelier, VT’s Dave Pembroke who started third, dove on the inside of the two in turn 2 to claim the lead on the second circuit.
The Gingras team worked pretty hard to just get ready for this race, so they enjoyed the spoils of victory. 
Kevin Roberge spins his #15. 
By lap 10, the top 15 were: Pembroke, Rump, Laperle, Gingras, MacPherson, Sylvain Lacombe, Lavigueur, Leclerc, Kennedy, Boissoneault, Allard, Déry, Martin Lacombe, Lynch and Poulin.

On lap 14, Pembroke got caught behind the slow car of Jonathan Debiens of Lévis, QC.  Local favourite Rick Rump took over the lead.  Behind them Laperle, Gingras, MacPherson and Bergeron.

On lap 33, the yellow flag was thrown for the solo spin of rookie driver Kevin Roberge at the exit of turn two.  Four cars went to the pits for service: Sylvain Lacombe who had dropped outside the top 15; Yvon Bédard who showed bodywork damage; Eric Chase; and Dany Ouellet who showed body damage.  All returned.

When the race resumed, Pembroke reclaimed his top spot over Rump.  Gingras tucked in behind Pembroke, was battling Rump for second.  A lap later, Gingras passed Rump for second.  The top five competitors were: Pembroke, Gingras, Rump, Laperle and MacPherson.
On lap 39, Laperle passed Rump for third.  Meanwhile, Pembroke and Gingras were working again on back markers.

At the half way, the top ten was: Pembroke, Gingras, Laperle, Rump, MacPherson, Lavigueur, Kennedy, Bergeron, Déry, Boissoneault.  The leaders had to compose with heavy traffic and the tight radius of turn 1 and 2, which made passing a little challenging at times.

On lap 64, Gingras gets alongside Pembroke but can’t make it stick.  For the next couple of laps Gingras tried high, tried low, but could not complete the pass.  Pembroke was working hard fending off Gingras and dealing with the slower cars at the same time.

On lap 68, Kevin Roberge spun to the inside on the backstretch, but there was no yellow.
On lap 73, Pembroke slowed down coming out of turn 4, Gingras goes around to grab first place.  Pembroke got back to speed, took his spot behind Gingras and ahead of Laperle.  In post race interview, Pembroke would confess to have lifted for Gingras. 

“He had a faster car than I did, I would get away and build a lead on the basis of lap traffic but he would catch right up to me immediately after he got around them,” said Pembroke.  “It was only a question of time.  Being the Thunder Road point leader I didn’t want to chance it and wreck the car.  After he let me know he was there, I elected to let him go”. 

Gingras would go on unchallenged for the lead and win the 100 laps event.  Pembroke settled in second and Patrick Laperle right on his bumper.

“The last two weeks were very difficult and busy,” said Gingras.  “We replaced the front clip after the St-Eustache accident.  It was my first time since 1999 here.  It didn’t go very well then.  So I had no idea and didn’t expect to win.  In addition to the unit, we did a bunch of changes we knew it was either going to be awesome or we would be totally out of whack.  After the first practice we sat out the second practice session, since we wanted to save the tires for the feature.  I credit my team, they worked very hard and gave me a very fast race car.”

Interestingly enough, Pembroke wasn’t even going to come to this race until he made a last minute change of plans.
“I didn’t plan on racing this weekend,” said Pembroke.  “I was going to Laconia, NH for Bike week, but weather forecast wasn’t good.  I checked with the weather at Oxford, Me and it wasn’t any better there.  So we decided to come here.  Its my first time at this track.  We had a blast.”

Laperle was worn out after taking up the final podium spot in the race.

“I’m exhausted,” said Laperle.  “I lost the power steering when the belt broke off on lap 10.  I had to work very hard.  Then to make matters worse the car started overheating, so I had to deal with that as well.  We need to shake off the back luck.  I want to win one bad.”

Deeper in the top 10 finishers were another pair of drivers who had good cars underneath them, but not quite good enough to contend for the victory this time out.

“I had a good car,” said  Jean-François Déry, who finished fourth.  “I took my time and saved my tires.  Its my first time racing here, it’s difficult to pass with traffic and the configuration of the track.  Starting on the outside row did not help.  The car is intact and I just expanded on my points lead, I am excited to go to back to Montmagny.”

“I started too far back, we didn’t do good in our heat race,” said seventh-place finisher Steve Munroe.  “I had to deal with the traffic and make my way back to the front and we just ran out of laps.  Had a good car and could of raced them.  We don’t run weekly here anymore, we pick and choose what shows we race at.   The only shows we will be racing at are Autodrome St-Eustache, Kawartha and the Milk Bowl.”

Another fast paced and action packed race by the ACT CASTROL Series competitors.  Surprisingly, there was only one caution and no trashed cars at the end.  Because of the large field of cars and the track’s tight exit out of turn two onto the narrow backstretch, many expected carnage before the event started.  Twelve cars remained on the leader lap for a very exciting race.  Arnie Malcolm’s vision of a great show was right on.  Will he get his two ACT shows for 2008?

Follow up on Ste-Croix and Sanair events

In a pre-race meeting Tom Curley announced to the crews he still intends to have ACT race at the Ste-Croix and Sanair racing complexes after a little bit of controversy from last week’s ACT Late Model race at Ste-Croix.  Click here for more on that situation.

“But it needs to be done right, for the fans and the competitors.  Therefore,  we have requested that the show be run by our schedule and we have set the price of admission” said Tom Curley.  “We look forward to getting a positive agreement on these requests.  You can expect a confirmation of this by end of business Monday”.

Official finish:

1. (9) Alexandre Gingras, Quebec, Qc, 100
2. (3) Dave Pembroke, Montpelier, VT, 100
3. (7) Patrick Laperle, St-Denis, Qc, 100
4. (5) Rick Rump, Carp, ON, 100
5. (14) Jean-Francois Dery, Val-Belair, Qc, 100
6. (11) Sean Kennedy, Dunrobin, ON, 100
7. (22) Steve Munro, Carp, ON, 100
8. (2) Spencer MacPherson, Carleton Place, ON, 100
9. (6) Normand Lavigeur, Laval, Qc, 100
10. (17) Derek Lynch, Warkworth, ON, 100
11. (15) Karl Allard, St-Felicien, Qc, 100
12. (4) Daniel Bergeron,  St-Benoit, Qc, 100
13.  (21) Dave Riopelle, Dunrobin, ON, 99
14. (16) Andre Coursol, St-Jerome, Qc, 99
15. (13) Steven Boissonneault, Lyster, Qc, 99
16.  (20) Justin Holton, Ottawa, ON, 99
17. (12) Jacques Poulin, East Broughton, Qc, 99
18. (10) Claude Leclerc, Lanouraie, Qc, 99
19. (8) Martin Lacombe, Terrebonne, Qc, 99
20. (18) Marc-Andre Cliche, Vallee-Jonction, Qc, 99
21. (23) Eric Chase, Milton, VT, 98
22. (25) Simon Roussin, Quebec, Qc, 97
23. (1) Eric St-Gelais, St-Nicolas, Qc, 97
24. (28) Dany Ouellet, La Pocatiere, Qc, 96
25. (24) Yvon Bedard, St-Nicolas, Qc, 96,
26. (27) Dave Waite, Smith Falls, ON, 95
27. (29) Kevin Roberge, Levis, Qc, 94
28. (19) Sylvain Lacombe, Terrebonne, QC, 72, Handling
29. (26) Jonathan Desbiens, Levis, Qc, 14, Steering

ACT Chief Tom Curley (L) offers his congratulations to Alexandre Gingras after the event.