Rivalries Intensify at Montreal
It was a long break between races due to the cancellation of Round 8 at Weather Tech Raceway Laguna Seca. However, the series picked back up for Round 9 at Montreal’s Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. Although there is some deliberation whether this circuit is a proper street circuit, the driver approach is definitely that of a street circuit. The limited run-off and intimidating walls that encroach on the racing surface serve as a constant reminder that a single mistake could be your final one.
Going into the day, Sven Cammaerts was the fan favorite, and showed why very early on holding the fastest time in practice by over a second and a half! Qualifying played into his hand as well, and even Bobby Zalenski could only get within four-tenths of Cammaerts 1:35.425.
Montreal is known for its drama, and it started early for Tom O’Leary. Realizing he needed to make an adjustment while everyone was gridding he ran out of time and was forced to start the race from pit lane. When the green flag dropped, Zalenski took off beside Cammaerts as they entered turn 1, and would hold the right-side lane to get priority through turn 2 and capture the lead from Cammaerts. However, the next time by, Cammaerts goes too hot into Turn 1, spinning Zalenski and brought out the first full-course yellow of the day.
When the green flag flew on Lap 5, Zalenski was on the charge, quickly moving through the field, but would also make an error in judgment on Lap 6, failing to adequately anticipate Paul Slavonik’s line into the multi-lined L’Epingle hairpin. Instead of taking the safe exit to the outside, Zalenski moved to the inside taking out the DMC United Silverado of Paul Slavonik, who Zalenski intended to avoid. This would bring out the second full-course yellow. Judgement continued to be the question of the day when the #10 Turn Racing Tundra dove down onto pit lane just as the Green Flag dropped on Lap 8.
Before the field reached turn 3, Danny Sollo in the GOTeam Racing Tundra loses the rear, and make a hard impact with the wall falling down the order from sixth to ninth. Zalenski would claw his way back up to third by lap 11, leaving him to chase down Erik Blixt.
As the race progressed, drivers struggled with the increased track temps and worn tires. Paul Slavonik (#88) took a big spin with 9 laps to go, thankfully he stayed out of the flow of traffic and the race stayed green. Just 1 lap before pit lane closed, Cammaerts, Zalenski, and Blixt all came down for their mandatory pit stops. Although Cammaerts missed his stall, his 9-second lead, more than covered for his mistake.
The top 3 would stay pretty sorted for the remainder of the race, but the battle for fourth intensified. James King (#23), Martin Kapal (#64) and Andrew Caron (#23) would swap positions and trade paint with the wall as they battled to in the closing laps. King would take 4th, but it was the Rookie, Andrew Caron who would beat out Kapal for the final spot in the Top 5.
September will be a doubleheader, with Round 10 on the 7th at Mid-Ohio and Round 11 on the 21st at the Homestead-Miami Roval. Two very uniquely demanding circuits that will require drivers be on their A-Game to be in position for the finale in October!
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