Antigonish: Round 12 preview

NASCAR Canadian Tire Series News & Notes - Riverside * Atlantic Dodge Dealers 300 Notebook * Pizza Pizza 300 Post-Race Notebook * Long Trip East Is A Labor Of Love For Nichol Chisholm Looking For More Than A Good Run It's a tall order to ...

NASCAR Canadian Tire Series News & Notes - Riverside
* Atlantic Dodge Dealers 300 Notebook
* Pizza Pizza 300 Post-Race Notebook
* Long Trip East Is A Labor Of Love For Nichol

Chisholm Looking For More Than A Good Run

It's a tall order to prepare a racecar for competition when a vital piece of information is lacking. How fast should it be going? There are questions still buzzing around inside Donald Chisholm's mind, but not nearly as many as a year ago.

Chisholm (No. 98 Nova Construction/Pioneer Coal Chevrolet) made his NASCAR Canadian Tire Series presented by Sirius Satellite Radio debut last Sept. 16 at his home track, Riverside International Speedway in Antigonish, N.S., but the book of knowledge on his new car was very limited.

"We tested the car at the track once we got everything together, but there was so much that we did not know," he said. "We didn't know how the car was supposed to react or even how fast we needed to go."

Obviously they knew to make it go as fast as it could, but how it would stack up against the best stock-car racers Canada has to offer was an unknown.

"The natural thought of being more familiar with the track giving me an advantage isn't quite accurate," said Chisholm. "I knew those guys would have the track figured out in an hour, and they did."

Also in that time, Chisholm learned that his team's preparation was on the money. He clearly demonstrated come race time that he could hang with the leaders. Despite finishing 16th with steering problems, he ran in the top five to eight cars for much of the event after starting 14th on the grid.

"The car was good. I wish we could have gotten the finish we deserved, but those things happen," he said.

This time around it is Chisholm's intent to finish the job and use it as a building block for future increased participation. While running fulltime in the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series is unlikely, he does want to fold more events into his schedule next season. He planned on doing that this year, but various circumstances squashed those intentions.

"Everything seems to be in order now, so we'd like to race in some, if not all, of the ovals in Ontario. I've heard great things about them and would like to make it over there," Chisholm said. "We haven't done too much road-course racing. I'd like to get some of these ovals under my belt before we tackle that, but everyone tells me that it's a blast."

For this weekend, though, Chisholm is looking forward to a great race in front of his hometown crowd.

"I'm told ticket sales are ahead of last year. I hope everyone comes out to see this event. It's a big time professional show with some great, great drivers. I've been looking forward to it all season."

***

The Race: Atlantic Dodge Dealers 300

The Place: Riverside Int'l Speedway, Antigonish, N.S.
The Date: Saturday, Sept. 20

The Time: 7:30 p.m. AT
TV Schedule: TSN, 11 a.m., Oct. 4 (delayed)

Track Layout: .333-mile paved oval
Race Purse: $91,022 CAD

2007 Winner: Mark Dilley
2007 Pole: Peter Gibbons

Schedule: Practice 1:30-3 p.m.; Time Trials 5:30 p.m.

***

White Looking To Lock Up Rookie Honors

Last season, Jason White (No. 21 A&W/Zimmer-Wheaton GMC Chevrolet) planned his NASCAR Canadian Tire Series presented by Sirius Satellite Radio race schedule around making a run at the 2008 Rookie-of-the-Year Award by limiting his events to insure the opportunity.

Being based in Sun Peaks, B.C., far from the series epicenter in Ontario, White was unsure if running an entire season was even possible, but he was committed to trying.

As it turns out, a full season was in the cards for the former world-class speed skier. He did miss last weekend's race in Barrie, but it was due to a family medical emergency. His wife, Melissa, had some complications with her pregnancy, but mother and new son, Ryder McKenzie, are doing just fine now.

Coming into the season, the rookie battle looked to be between three drivers, Alex Tagliani (No. 7 Wal-Mart/Ubisoft Ford), Anthony Simone (No. 95 Crown Modular Chevrolet) and White. Each have had their share of growing pains, but White looks to have the edge after Tagliani returned to his open-wheeled roots in the Indy Car Series causing him to miss the last two races.

"I almost can't believe that we can get this done," said White. "If A&W had not stepped up when they did, then it probably wouldn't have worked. It's been a hectic season, but well worth it."

With last year being the first year of the Canadian Tire Series and every driver was technically a rookie, 2008 will be the first time rookie honors will be bestowed.

***

News & Notes

The Race: This event is the 12th of 13 races on the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series presented by Sirius Satellite Radio schedule. It is the series' second visit to the track.

The Procedure: The starting field is 24 cars, including provisionals. The first 21 cars will be determined from two-lap time trials. The remaining three spots will be awarded through the provisional process. The race will be 300 laps (99.99 miles).

The Track: Riverside Speedway originally opened in 1969 and was modeled after the legendary Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway. In 2005, the track was completely demolished and rebuilt including a new racing surface, concrete walls, lighting, grandstands and control tower. Like its counterpart, Riverside features high-banked turns with the turns having 14 degrees of banking. The front stretch is 440-feet long with a banking of six degrees while the back stretch is also 440 feet but with a five-degree banking.

The Records: The one-lap qualifying record for the Canadian Tire Series is 14.883 seconds (80.548 mph), set by Peter Gibbons last year on Sept. 16. The 300-lap race record is held by Mark Dilley at 1 hour, 49 minutes, 16 seconds also set last Sept. 16 for an average speed of 54.857 mph.

A Season Ago: The Riverside race was the first in NASCAR Canadian Tire Series history to fall victim to the elements. Due to rain, Saturday's events were postponed to Sunday at which polesitter Gibbons had the dominant car. He led 201 laps before having to retire his car with a mechanical problem. Dilley led the final 38 laps en route to his first series victory beating JR Fitzpatrick to the line by nearly a second.

***

Pizza Pizza 300 Post-Race Notebook

Oval Mastery: At each of the oval-track events, so far, this season with the exception of the Mosport Speedway race at which the field was set per the rule book due to rain, Don Thomson Jr. (No. 4 Home Hardware Chevrolet) has won the pole position. He now has a single-season series record six poles and eight in his series career.

Get Out The Brooms Again: Last season, DJ Kennington (No. 17 Castrol/NPP Dodge) picked up the season sweep by winning both Barrie Speedway events. This year, Scott Steckly (No. 22 Tow Truck in a Box/Erb Group Dodge) collected the double dip with a pair of victories in Barrie.

Hometown Boys Make Good: Both John Gaunt (No. 12 Centennial Chrysler Dodge) and Mark Dilley (No. 9 Dodge/Leland Industries/Maple Lodge Farms Dodge) call Barrie, Ontario home and both notched top-five finishes in the Pizza Pizza 300. Gaunt finished fourth while Dilley followed in fifth.

Catch Him If You Can: Coming into the Pizza Pizza 300 off a subpar performance the week before at Cayuga Motor Speedway and causing his lead in the championship point standings to shrink to just 68 points, Steckly collected his fourth win of the season to stretch the lead to 123 points over Thomson. It was Steckly's first win since the July 5 race in St. Eustache.

A Different Lapcevich: After spending the better part of two seasons behind the wheel of the No. 25 Tim Hortons Chevrolet, Jim Lapcevich gave way to his older brother, Jeff, at Barrie Speedway. The elder brother will also pilot the car this weekend in Nova Scotia while Jim tends to business affairs at home in Hamilton, Ontario. Mobil 1 Command Performance of the Race Award: As a reward for his NASCAR Canadian Tire Series victory at Barrie Speedway, Steckly collects $1,500 from Mobil 1 for his effort. He now has five career wins to his credit, a series record.

Mopar Fast Five: This program awards the top five finishing Dodges in the race. In the Pizza Pizza 300, Steckly, with the victory, was the highest-finishing Dodge and thus earned a $2,000 bonus. Fourth-place finisher Gaunt was the second-highest finishing Dodge, which earned him $1,250. Picking up $1,000 for finishing as the third-highest Dodge was Dilley. Collecting $500 for placing fourth among the Dodge entrants was Kennington. And rounding out the top five Dodges was Brad Graham (No. 19 Full Throttle/Logel's Auto Parts/Challenger Motor Freight Dodge), who receives $250.

POWERade Power Move Award: Improving his position the most over the course of the race was Gaunt. After starting 17th on the grid, he battled his way forward and finished fourth. As a result, he earned the $1,000 award from POWERade.

Tow Truck in a Box Free Pass Award: In a new program in 2008, the driver who receives a free pass during the event and has the highest finish wins the award. Gaunt also added this award to his coffers. Off the pace in the early going, he was able to make his Dodge Avenger a top-five car. This was the first time for Hathaway to collect the $1,000 award this season.

In Case You Missed It: TSN and TSN HD's coverage of the Pizza Pizza 300 from Barrie Speedway will premiere on Saturday, Sept. 13 at 11 a.m. ET. The one-hour recap also will be broadcast on Thursday, Sept. 18 at 3:30 p.m. ET and Sunday, Sept. 21 at 1 a.m. ET.

***

Long Trip East Is A Labor Of Love For Nichol

A sight-seeing tour and racing all wrapped in one, that is what the next month will be for Todd Nichol (No. 6 Pennzoil Chevrolet).

Being in the final stages of selling his auto body business, Nichol, out of Edmonton, Alberta suburb of St. Albert, is ready to take some time and enjoy his passion for racing.

He will compete in the final two scheduled events for the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series presented by Sirius Satellite Radio with the first of those being Sept. 20 in Antigonish, Nova Scotia, some 6,000 kilometers from Edmonton. The season finale is set for Kawartha Speedway on Sept. 27.

Nichol will see each and everyone of those 6,000 kilometers while he hauls his car eastward. Having left Alberta on Sept. 9, Nichol does not plan on returning until Oct. 10 or so.

"I bought a new tractor and trailer last year and this is a great way to enjoy it," said Nichol. "It's also a great way to see some beautiful countryside along the way."

A season ago, Jason White (No. 21 A&W/Zimmer-Wheaton GMC Chevrolet) made the same trip from his home base in Sun Peaks, B.C. and clued Nichol in on the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

"I saw (White) over the winter and just raved about (Riverside). He said, 'You gotta go, it's awesome,' so I am on my way. I'm looking forward to competing at both tracks."

While Nichol has just three NASCAR Canadian Tire Series events under his belt, he is no stranger to NASCAR. He is good friends with NASCAR Camping World Series competitor Daryl Harr having served as his crew chief in years past. In fact, their race shop are located across the street from one another.

"I've been to a couple of his races this year and will probably catch their last race of the year," Nichol said.

Next year, though, Nichol plans to be a little busier by running his own full-time schedule in the Canadian Tire Series.

"The sale of my business will be done and I'll finally have the time to do some things that I want to do," he said.

Nichol has been racing in various series over his career and has a long-standing partnership with many of his sponsors, including Pennzoil and Norton, an abrasives supplier.

"Pennzoil brings instant credibility to our program which goes a long way in attracting associate sponsors," said Nichol. "Norton has been great, too. They, and many of my suppliers in my auto body business, have been tremendously supportive of our racing program."

Nichol finished eighth earlier this season on the 1/2-mile tri-oval at SunValley Speedway in Vernon, B.C.

-credit: nascar

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About this article
Series NASCAR Canada
Drivers Alex Tagliani , Jason White , Peter Gibbons , Mark Dilley , Brad Graham , Don Thomson Jr. , Scott Steckly , Jim Lapcevich , Daryl Harr , John Gaunt , Anthony Simone