By John Chidley-Hill, The Canadian Press on January 31, 2024.
Preparing to race stock cars in the United States is bringing Treyten Lapcevich closer to his grandmother.
Lapcevich will make the jump to the United States-based zMax CARS Tour this spring after winning the 2023 NASCAR Canada Series. The 19-year-old has been using an iRacing rig to train on the new tracks he’ll be driving south of the border, but because his rural home doesn’t have strong enough Wi-Fi, he’s been practising at his grandmother’s.
“I’m up on the Niagara Escarpment and where I am we’re covered in trees and we can’t really get good Internet connection which is required for the iRacing so I actually do my iRacing in my grandma’s basement,” said Lapcevich. “It’s funny because she lives only about five minutes away. Where she is a very clear open area and she’s able to get the Bell Fibe and whatnot.
“It’s kind of a win-win because I get to see her a lot too.”
However Lapcevich prepares, it’s working.
Lapcevich was the 2023 series champion in the most dominant season in NASCAR Canada Series history.
He won seven races, matching D.J. Kennington of St. Thomas, Ont., for the most in a year. He broke the series record for most laps led in a season (1,149), claimed 11 top-fives, 13 top-10s and four pole awards, never finishing worse that sixth.
That dominant performance has led to him joining the United States-based zMax CARS Tour, agreeing to drive the No. 77 car for Chad Bryant Racing. A star-studded ownership group of NASCAR icons Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Burton, Kevin Harvick and Justin Marks bought the zMax CARS Tour last January.
“The NASCAR Canada Series is basically the pinnacle of motorsports in Canada and then if you want to go further, it’s really just making that progression into the United States where you have the NASCAR Cup series,” said Lapcevich. “Those are the guys that pretty much everyone’s familiar with, your Dale Earnhardts, Jeff Gordons, Jimmie Johnsons, those type of guys.
“So me moving to the CARS Tour is really a key stepping-stone to that next step.”
Lapcevich said that there’s a wider variety of tracks on the CARS Tour than in the Canada series. That’s why he has to practise on iRacing in his grandmother’s basement.
“A lot of the tracks I’m going to be competing in down south are on this platform, which is nice,” said Lapcevich. “It’s not completely 1-to-1 realistic, but it helps get a little bit of a grasp of the track and a little bit more comfortability before actually getting there on the weekend.”
The 17-race zMax CARS Tour season opens March 9 at Southern National Motorsports Park in Kenly, N.C. The start of the race season neatly coincides with the end of Lapcevich’s school year. He’s studying business administration at Schulich School of Business at York University in Toronto.
“I have school till about the end of April, when exams finish,” he said. “We have a couple races from March to April so I’m going to be travelling back and forth for those ones, but it’s mostly Friday and Saturday deals.
“After that, I plan to move to North Carolina for the summer, and then come back in September again.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 31, 2024.