With 15 years under his belt of CASCAR and NASCAR Canadian Tire Series racing, Jeff Lapcevich is calling it a career and hanging up the helmet. The veteran made his final series start on Sunday in the Pinty’s presents the Clarington 200 at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park, finishing third.
“I’m disappointed,” he admitted. “I think we had the race won and then the caution came out and we have to restart with Alex (Tagliani).”
Starting the race from the third spot, Lapcevich ran up front all race long, taking the lead on lap 34. He looked to have the gap maintained between himself and second place race runner Alex Tagliani, when the caution flew for fluid on the track at lap 38.
“I think we had a really good car,” Lapcevich noted. “We led a bunch of laps and I was disappointed to see that caution come out. I knew it was coming, but it sucked that it came out.”
On the restart with 10 laps to go, Lapcevich was able to grab the advantage through turn one, but Tagliani was able to keep close, making door-to-door contact with Lapcevich in turn three. The result would be Tagliani taking the lead while Lapcevich slid back to fourth.
“He’s Alex – if he can get to you, he can send you off the track and that’s what he did,” Lapcevich continued. “Maybe he’ll think twice about it next time because we’re going to be around for a long time. It’s disappointing finishing off with a third place finish. It’s not what we wanted.”
Lapcevich was able to get back to Tagliani on a following restart with three laps to go, giving him a shot in turn one and sending him off line and back a few spots.
“You live by the sword, you die by the sword,” Lapcevich remarked. “He’s pushed me around in the past and I wasn’t taking it today. I could’ve easily rooted L.P. (Dumoulin) – I know I roughed him up a bit and got him out of shape a bit, and he did a masterful job of staying fast and staying on line. That’s good, clean racing – not when you knock a guy three lanes out of the way to pass him. That’s what he did to me, and what I did to him.”
Lapcevich then held on to third in the closing laps behind Jason Hathaway and L.P. Dumoulin. The veteran admits that there was the temptation to perhaps get into Dumoulin and Hathaway a bit at the end, but that’s not the way he races. He noted that they have always raced him with respect, and he is going to do the same thing in return.
“If it hadn’t had been L.P and Jason but somebody else, I might be sitting where Jason is right now,” he added. “I’m proud of the way we race and that’s what I try to teach my kids – you race other people the way you want to be raced.”
The decision for Lapcevich comes as a result of both his kids, 15-year-old Cayden and 11-year-old Treyten, being heavily involved in racing.
“All along we’ve been a part-time team and been grooming the boys,” Lapcevich noted. “I’m happy and sad. It sucks to get out of the seat, but I love watching the boys race. They make me really proud.”
Cayden made his NASCAR Canadian Tire Series debut earlier this year and has since run five total races this season. Cayden had a strong run on Sunday, finishing 10th despite starting from the rear of the field due to missing qualifying.
“I’m really proud of Cayden’s effort,” Jeff commented. “To go home yesterday to run the Super Stock and he has such a good points lead there, and to drive it in the top-10 is just a great day. Couldn’t be happier.”
Currently, Cayden is leading the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series St. Onge Recreation Super Stock standings at Sunset Speedway, in search of his second straight division championship. Meanwhile, Treyten (pictured right) is currently leading the Signs of Innovation Mighty Mini division standings in his rookie season. The boys both have a pair of nights left in their respective schedules.
“I lose a lot of sleep over that deal, I think more so than over my own racing program,” Jeff admitted. “We bring the cars home and work on them. The kids always do a good job and make me proud. They make good decisions on the track, and they’re good fair racers. I like the way they race.
“Win, lose or draw, I’m happy.”