Montreal driver and 2013 NASCAR Canadian Tire Series (NCaTS) Rookie-of-the-Year Alex Guénette finished in a fighting second place at the Jiffy Lube 100, the third round of the 2014 NCaTS held today at Circuit ICAR just north of Montreal. The young driver started third and led a very competitive field for half the race before finishing second right behind the more experienced race-winner Andrew Ranger.
Alex was nothing short of brilliant in front of his family and fans, jumping from third on the grid to second in the opening lap of the 30-lap race like a veteran, and proceeding to trade the race lead with the experienced and twice NCaTS season champion Andrew Ranger.
Starting third right behind pole sitter Ranger allowed Alex to move up to second by staying right behind Andrew and on the inside of corner 1, which put him at an advantage against Marc-Antoine Camirand who had qualified second and was on the outside in the corner 1 hairpin.
|Alex Guenette. (Crédit photo : Matthew Manor)|
Alex knew there was an advantage to be gained by starting third. “I wanted to make the most of the start and take off after Andrew right away. Things went just as I needed on the first start as well as on the complete restart after the first lap yellow for a midfield crash.”
But Alex wanted more, and he passed race-leader Ranger under braking for corner 3 on lap 7 and proceeded to lead the race for the next 14 laps. Ranger stuck to Guénette, never dropping more than two car lengths behind and applying constant pressure by his mere presence, as the fighting pair kept building a secure lead on their pursuers.
Alex kept working hard during this phase of the race. “I pushed right from the start to stay with the original leading group. It was also important that I stay with the leader, and when I passed Ranger, my Motos Illimitées/ DLGL car allowed to stay ahead of Andrew until late in the race. Andew and I both eased our pace slightly, to save brakes and rear tires for the last phase of the race.”
Ranger put a great move on Guenette on lap 21, outbraking him going into corner 1, a clean pass that allowed both of them to keep their lead on their pursuers and leaving the two of them to decide on the outcome of the race.
Alex knew that an attack from Ranger was imminent. ”Andrew was quicker that all of us all weekend, and when it was time to go for the win, he passed me cleanly.” The last laps saw the young driver of the No. 39 Motos Illimitées Dodge try to get back in the lead, but Ranger seemed to have enough car in hand to keep Alex behind him. At the same time, Louis-Philippe Dumoulin was trying unsuccessfully to close the gap on team mate Alex Guenette, who did close out the race in second place at the end, securing a well-deserved second step on the podium. In fact, the three leaders were well clear of Alex Labbé in 4th and Alex Tagliani in 5th, as well as the rest of the veteran racers who were soundly beaten by the lead trio.
Finishing second did not dampen Alex’s enthusiasm. “Ranger is one of the best racers in North-America. I passed him, stayed ahead for 14 laps and fought him for the victory right to the end. I am very satisfied with this result for the team as well as for myself. We accomplished a lot this weekend” declared an emotional Alex from the podium.
After this confidence-boosting performance, Alex will be back at the wheel for a major test session with a Turner Scott Motorsports NASCAR Camping World race truck this coming July 15 and 16, where he will be coached by multiple NASCAR champion Ron Hornaday Jr.
Alex will be back in Quebec for the NCaTS 250 held at Autodrome St. Eustache on July 26.