Scott Larson • Saskatoon StarPhoenix
Publishing date: July 28, 2016
At just 27 years of age, Kevin Lacroix seems much too young to be making a comeback in his auto racing career.
But Lacroix, who got out of the driver’s seat in 2008 and didn’t return until last year to compete in a few NASCAR Pinty’s Series races, is doing just that and shows little rust in his immense abilities.
“I tried to forget about racing all this time and it didn’t happen,” said Lacroix before taking part in Wednesday night’s Velocity Prairie Thunder 250 at the Wyant Group Raceway.
Rookie sensation Cayden Lapcevich, just 16, barged to the lead halfway through the race and hung on to his first win after a late caution. LP Dumoulin came from outside the top 10 to finish a strong second and Alex Labbe was third. Lacroix finished eighth.
Lacroix began racing at the age of eight and was involved in karting until he was 15 and earned a scholarship to the e BMW Racing School in Valencia, Spain, in 2004. From there, he finished second in the American Formula BMW Championship in 2005 with four wins in 14 races and went on to compete in the Star Mazda Series and Champ Car Atlantic Championship with John Walko Racing.
“Then in my first full season in Atlantic cars in 2008, it was tough with the sponsorships,” he said of the economic depression that hit just about everywhere in the world. It was tough for everybody. So I stopped racing in 2008 and started working in the family company selling auto parts.”
But last year, the family bought a car with a family friend and when he retired, Lacroix got back behind the wheel for six races in the series.
Not only was Lacroix competitive right off the bat, but he won at ICAR and Trois-Rivieres to become the first rookie in series history to win two races.
They had planned on just racing two or three times a year, “but when we won at ICAR the plans got bigger. Now here I am with sponsors and a good team and here all season,” Lacroix said. “It’s pretty nice to be back in racing, that’s for sure.”
Lacroix has yet to win this year, but is fifth in the driver’s standings with 211 points, just 38 points behind leader Andrew Ranger going into Wednesday’s race.
“I didn’t lose my speed with all these years being away from the race track, but the experience of racing and the action and traffic I have lost it a little bit,” said Lacroix, who grabbed his first pole position in Edmonton on the weekend.
“With the wins last year the expectations are maybe high and it gives us some pressure. But the goal this year is to learn and be strong in the next few years.”
He said the hardest part about coming back is “trying to be as good as you were before. I didn’t lose speed, but I lost concentration capabilities or managing the races and the traffic and being calm. I have to gain that back and it takes a lot of time.
“People think that if you are fast you are going to win, but it is not only that — you have to work on the car, work with other drivers, be respected and respect other drivers.”
He’s looking forward to racing for the first time in Saskatoon.
“The track is nice and wide, not as tight as Edmonton, so I think drivers will respect each other more. So far it is one of the nicest (tracks) I have seen in Canada. It can offer good side-by-side racing.”
Lacroix was tempering his expectations, admitting he is still more comfortable on road courses than racing on ovals.
“Normally the goal as a driver is to win — that’s my goal on road courses — but on ovals I’ll be really happy to be on the podium.”
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