As Treyten Lapcevich prepares for his first-ever run in the prestigious Snowball Derby Super Late Model race, the 19-year-old racer took time out to talk to TobyChristie.com in a wide-ranging interview.
The native of Grimsby, Ontario, Canada enjoyed an absolutely dominant season during the 2023 NASCAR Pinty’s Series campaign, where he racked up seven wins over the 14-race season, he led more laps (1,149) than anybody has ever led in a single NASCAR Pinty’s season, and he took home the championship.
“Yeah, I mean, when we won three out of the first four, I was pretty excited right off the bat,” Lapcevich stated when asked when he felt the season could be a truly special one. “But these guys are just so competitive, and there’s such a wide variety of tracks and skill sets, too. We run almost as many road courses as we do ovals. For me, coming from an oval background, and a lot of these guys coming from sportscars and road racing backgrounds, it’s kind of hard to be on the same level as them there, but we were able to get the win on the road course. And also run top-five at a bunch of them also. There was never really a point in the season where I could just relax and just know that I had it in the bag. The only time that really happened was after we took the green at Delaware.
“After winning three of the first four, we had a lot of momentum, and I knew the season had the potential to be really special. Luckily, the 22 Racing team just kept preparing me amazing cars. And everything really went our way. Luck is a big part of racing, and I’d say we had a lot of it this season.”
However, despite the championship, issues finding funding have Lapcevich feeling that a return to the newly rebranded NASCAR Canada Series is not a viable option in 2024.
“I think the big thing is funding,” Lapcevich explained. “There are opportunities for me to go South, and opportunities for me to return to the Pinty’s Series as well. But it wasn’t a secret at the start of this last season that we didn’t have enough funding to complete the full year. It’s been difficult the last three years, really. We’ve been grinding hard to get sponsors. I’m heavily involved in that myself and getting all of the marketing materials, but it’s been tough. It’s tough to do it again next year. The prices just keep rising and rising. A return to the Pinty’s Series next year just doesn’t quite look feasible right now. I think we’re going to try to see what we can come up with. Like I said, there’s talks, but just nothing currently.”
It seems unfathomable, but the driver, who just put up one of the greatest seasons that will ever be seen in the NASCAR Canada Series, looks to have been priced out of the series moving forward.
That being said, Lapcevich is weighing potential options within the United States, where it’s also difficult to secure sponsorship funding. But in the ARCA Menards Series and NASCAR National Series, larger sponsors are more willing to give those series a chance.
If Lapcevich doesn’t return to the NASCAR Canada Series in 2024, it likely could be the end of the spirited rivalry between him and Marc-Antoine Camirand. Lapcevich, who was a teammate to Camirand in his first NASCAR Pinty’s Series season, says that things began to get chippy between the two in the opening race of the 2023 season.
“I think it kind of triggered, I would say it started right from the get-go this year at Sunset. We had a really great run at Sunset, but it was almost hindered by Marc on the final restart. He kept jacking me up on the restarts, because that was when he was taking his shot because he had a chance at me,” Lapcevich recalled. “We were a little frustrated with that at Sunset, obviously, we were able to come out on top. It worked in our favor.”
Lapcevich says the rivalry continued to brew through the third race of the 2023 season, but feels things calmed between the two drivers, and by season’s end they each had immense respect for one another.
“It carried into CTMP and then Chaudiere as well. But since then, it’s kind of calmed down,” Lapcevich said. “Marc has been really great communicating with me. In the latter parts of the season. I would say the rivalry has settled down for the most part. Marc congratulated me at the end of Delaware, which was really nice. He had a great year last year, and I think he made it pretty clear that he understood that this year was our year. Really cool for that to happen.”
At the end of the day, the mutual respect of knowing that they were each other’s biggest competition is really what Lapcevich felt started the rivalry to begin with.
“Yeah, it’s just racing. There are times at the track — we’re all really passionate, we’re all spending a lot of time, a lot of money. There are times at the track when the emotions can get the best of us, and I would say that’s happened on both sides. We’re both there gunning for wins, and it just happens. Contact is inevitable. Rivalries are going to happen, especially when I think we both realized that we were each other’s biggest competition at a lot of tracks.”
With the championship secured, the young racer joined his brother Cayden Lapcevich as a champion in the NASCAR Pinty’s Series. The younger Lapcevich says it’s been a full-on family effort to get him where he is today, and he has always felt incredible support from his older brother throughout his racing journey.
“It really is just a family affair. Racing is a huge family sport, and to follow in Cayden’s footsteps and win the NASCAR Pinty’s championship as well, it means a lot,” Lapcevich stated with joy. “When Cayden did it, we did it with our own family team. My dad as crew chief, and pretty much all of the cousins and uncles working on the cars. Really cool to do it then, and then to have my dad as crew chief when I won the championship and Cayden was able to have a little break, it was very convenient, from the busy ARCA schedule there. To be able to fly in and come to the final race for the Pinty’s Series this year as well. It’s really cool to have the whole family involved. The Pinty’s Series has meant a lot to my family in regard to my father and my uncles as well. It’s a great series, and really happy that we can now have two championships in the family.”
With two championships in the NASCAR Canada Series, it appears that Lapcevich is set to try to work his way into the United States racing scene, and it all begins with the Snowball Derby on December 3rd.
The Derby has served as a springboard for many young up-and-coming talents over the years, including Erik Jones, who beat Kyle Busch head-to-head in the 2012 edition of the event.
Jones impressed Busch so much that Busch hired Jones to run for his Kyle Busch Motorsports team in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. Now, Jones has 19 wins in the NASCAR National Series ranks, including three wins in the NASCAR Cup Series.
Lapcevich is hoping for a similar path, but he’ll have to impress in the Derby. And to impress in the Derby, Lapcevich will have to make the field first, which is no easy task.
“I mean, obviously, the first goal of the weekend is to make the field,” Lapcevich said. “Then, from there, I think as long as we can complete the 300 laps and hopefully be up there competing at the end. A lot of these Snowballs when it comes down to the last little bit of the race, it’s almost anyone’s game. If we can make it to the end, and have a good day, be up front and competing up there at the end, I think that would be a success in itself.”
If Lapcevich is within striking distance in the closing laps of the Snowball Derby, don’t count the young man out. He is driving for his future.