Barrie: Series round 11 preview

NASCAR Canadian Tire Series News & Notes -- Barrie * TES 300 Notebook * NAPA Autopro 100 Post-Race Notebook * Home Tracks Update: Everything Up For Grabs At Barrie Stock Cars Fit Simone Just Right Drivers from other racing disciplines...

NASCAR Canadian Tire Series News & Notes -- Barrie

* TES 300 Notebook
* NAPA Autopro 100 Post-Race Notebook
* Home Tracks Update: Everything Up For Grabs At Barrie

Stock Cars Fit Simone Just Right

Drivers from other racing disciplines making the move to NASCAR no longer raises the eyebrows it once did, but stock-car purists still take a wait-and-see approach on the baptism of fire that awaits each of the converts.

Anthony Simone (No. 95 Crown Modular/United Lumber Chevrolet) made the move to stock cars from both the karting and open-wheel worlds because that's where the fan and marketing interest rested.

"Every time we approached a sponsor with our open-wheel program," said Simone, "they were more interested in stock cars and NASCAR as an avenue for their marketing programs."

Concurrently, the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series presented by Mobil 1 was taking shape and commanding the attention of marketers north of the border.

"NASCAR's popularity in Canada was on the rise and the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series just brought it more to the forefront," Simone stated.

Even so, to make the economics work there has to be a recipe for success culminating in favorable results on the track.

"I've won World Karting Association championships and been competitive in a few different open-wheel divisions, but the key, to me, is finding people with stock-car knowledge," said Simone. "I think, as a driver, experience in other cars is an advantage, but having people on board who know the cars and shop prep is critical. That's been the major difference for us this year."

After a rookie season that saw just one top-10 finish, the Simone Autosport team put together crew chief Thatcher Krupp with car chief Giulio Montanari in the off season. The result has been four top fives, seven top 10s and a current ranking of sixth in the championship driver standings.

That expertise along with a reliable engine program, without a doubt, are the two biggest reasons for Simone's jump to the upper echelon where his own driving abilities can make a difference.

The engine failures of a year ago are a thing of the past, now that they have made the switch to the NASCAR spec engine program, new to the series in 2009.

"It's done everything we've asked it to do and more," Simone said. "It's competitive. It's reliable and it's affordable. Can't ask for much more than that."

He also feels it opens the door for new drivers and teams looking to join the series.

"I really can't imagine not going that route," he stated. "It's right in line with all the custom-built motor programs in the series. It's a no-brainer to me. Look how far we've come this year."

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Fast Facts

The Race: Torbram Electric 300 presented by The Source
The Place: Barrie Speedway, Barrie, Ont.

The Date: Saturday, Sept. 12
The Time: 8 p.m. ET

TV Schedule: TSN, Sept. 19, Noon ET

Track Layout: .333-mile tri-oval
Race Purse: $81,723 CAD

2008 Winner: Scott Steckly
2008 Pole: Don Thomson Jr.

Schedule:
Practice 1:30-2:30 p.m.;
Qualifying 5:45 p.m.

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Kennington Prepared To Fight To The End

No NASCAR Canadian Tire Series presented by Mobil 1 driver has been more consistent than DJ Kennington (No. 17 Castrol/Mahindra Tractors Dodge). At the same time, no driver, this season, has felt the sting of sub-par outings like Kennington.

Historically, no one has been as steady. In 35 series starts, the driver out of St. Thomas, Ont., has finished inside the top five on 25 occasions. In the championship points standings, he finished second to Andrew Ranger in 2007 and third to Scott Steckly last season.

In 2009, his only two finishes outside the top five have been a pair of 16th-place efforts--the season opener at Autodrome St. Eustache and Edmonton's Rexall Speedway--which have contributed to his 134-point deficit to Ranger in this year's standings more than Kennington would like.

"(Ranger) has been so strong this year at every race and has all those wins," said Kennington. "The two times we had problems have really cost us in points."

Making up that difference with just three races left on the schedule is a tall order, but Kennington plans to be ready if Ranger reveals any chink in his armor.

"I don't wish bad luck on anybody, but everybody has it and we need to be ready when they have theirs. That's all we can do--take care of our business and hope they have a problem or two."

***

Barrie News & Notes

The Race: This event is the 11th of 13 races on the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series presented by Mobil 1 schedule and the seventh of nine races on oval tracks this season. It is the series' fifth visit to the track.

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

The Track: Barrie Speedway opened in 1965 and has had substantial improvements made since 1999. At that time, the track was widened and lengthened from a .25-mile oval to its current unique .333-mile tri-oval configuration. The tri-oval and pit road are situated on the backstretch.

The Records: The one-lap qualifying record for the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series is 13.903 seconds (86.226 mph), set by Don Thomson Jr. on June 28, 2008. The 300-lap race record is held by DJ Kennington at 1 hour, 43 minutes, 59 seconds set Sept. 8, 2007 for an average speed of 57.644 mph.

Last Year: Different than in the first two NASCAR Canadian Tire Series seasons, there is just one visit to Barrie Speedway this season compared to two in previous years. After DJ Kennington won both Barrie Speedway events in 2007, series champion Scott Steckly swept the two races last season with both wins coming in typical bump-and-grind Barrie style.

NASCAR Day In Canada: Saturday, Sept. 12 is Canada's NASCAR Day. Canadian Tire, in conjunction with The NASCAR Foundation, is raising money for both the Canadian Tire Jumpstart program, which helps children to get involved in sports, and families in need across Canada. NASCAR Day in the U.S. has raised more than $6.5 million since its inception in 2004.

Also On Tap: The NASCAR Canadian Tire Series, Canada's premiere stock car division, will be joined at Barrie Speedway by the OLG Slots at Georgian Downs Thunder Cars and the Barrie Mitsubishi Motors Pure Stocks, both part of Barrie's NASCAR Whelen All-American Series program.

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NCATS Notebook: NAPA Autopro 100 Wrap-Up

Not Too Shabby: Much has been made of Andrew Ranger's (No. 27 Wal-Mart/Tide Ford) record of three wins and a second in the four road-course races this year, but JR Fitzpatrick (No. 84 Schick Chevrolet) has been pretty good in his own right. In three races, he has posted a win in Montreal, a second in Edmonton and a third at Mosport Int'l. Raceway.

Rookie Battle: Both Joey Hanssen (No. 40 Prime Champ Dodge) and Dexter Stacey (No. 55 WSJ Motorsports Pontiac) have had their ups and downs this year , but they continue to wage a spirited battle for NASCAR Canadian Tire Series Rookie of the Year honors. Hanssen holds a slight advantage over Stacey with three races remaining in the 2009 season.

High Water Marks: In Montreal, both Daryl Harr (No. 31 Westworld Computers Chevrolet) and Jarrad Whissell (No. 44 SMS Equipment/Komatsu Ford) logged their first series career top 10s. Also, Pierre Bourque (No. 29 WoundedWarriors.ca Dodge) equaled his career-best series finish of seventh.

Mobil 1 Command Performance Driver of the Race: As a reward for his NASCAR Canadian Tire Series victory at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, Fitzpatrick collects $1,500 from Mobil 1 as the Command Performance Driver of the Race.

Mopar Quick Three: This program rewards the top three finishing Dodges in the race eligible for the award. In the NAPA Autopro 100, fourth-place finisher DJ Kennington (No. 17 Castrol/Mahindra Tractors Dodge) was the highest-finishing eligible Dodge and thus earned a $2,000 bonus. Mark Dilley (No. 9 Dodge/Leland Industries Dodge), who came home in fifth place, was the second-highest finishing eligible Dodge, which earned him a $1,000 award. Picking up $500 for finishing as the third-highest eligible Dodge was Ron Beauchamp Jr. (No. 60 Mopar/Mobil 1 Dodge). He finished sixth overall.

Coca-Cola Move of the Race: Improving his position the most over the course of the race was Cale Gale (No. 13 Rheem Canada Chevrolet) for the second straight race. The American-born Gale started 29th on the grid before navigating his way to a finish of 11th. As a result, he earned the $1,000 award from Coca-Cola.

MAHLE Clevite Engine Builder of the Race: In a new program for 2009, the driver who compiles the most points in a specialized system involving qualifying, race finish and leading laps collects the $1,000 award. Fitzpatrick won the race and led the most laps (17).

In Case You Missed It: TSN coverage of the NAPA Autopro100 from Montreal's Circuit Gilles Villeneuve will premiere on Saturday, Sept. 12 at 11 a.m. ET. Check local listings for the most up-to-date information. The one-hour recap show will also be broadcast on Sunday, Sept. 13 at 12:30 a.m. and Friday, Sept. 18 at 2 p.m.

***

Home Tracks Update: Everything Up For Grabs At Barrie

All three NASCAR Whelen All-American Series classifications at Barrie Speedway have close points battles, but the Rama Moccasin and Smoke Late Model class, the premier division, is particularly tight.

Defending province and track champion Keith McLeod along with Gord Shepherd and Dwayne Baker continue to battle for the 2009 title.

A year ago, the same three drivers locked horns and just 35 points separated them when the dust cleared. This time around, Shepherd has the inside line, but there is little room for error. All three have multiple wins this season and have been remarkably consistent with just a handful of finishes outside the top five between the three competitors.

Ron Quesnelle leads all late model rookies.

In the other classifications, Darryl St. Onge is fighting with Jason Elliott and Jim Beleskey in the OLG Slots at Georgian Downs Thunder Cars, while Ben Melenhorst has the advantage over Mike Meyer and Bryan Penny in the Barrie Mitsubishi Motors Pure Stock division.

Championship night is set for Saturday, Sept. 19, when champions will be crowned in all three divisions.

The NASCAR Whelen All-American Series serves as the foundation of NASCAR -- grassroots racing across the United States and Canada. Whelen Engineering, a leading manufacturer of automotive, aviation, industrial and emergency vehicle lighting, is the series sponsor. More than 10,000 drivers compete at NASCAR-sanctioned short tracks throughout both countries.

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Up Next: Antigonish

The NASCAR Canadian Tire Series presented by Mobil 1 has its western trip in the books. Now it's time to make the annual trek to the eastern portion of Canada.

The date at Riverside International Speedway in Antigonish, N.S., is a highlight every season. The .333-mile track is a scale model of the legendary Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway that provides some of the best racing of the year.

It is the penultimate event of the season as the 2009 championship continues to hang in the balance.

Last year, Don Thomson Jr. took advantage of a late race incident between Peter Gibbons and Andrew Ranger to collect his second victory of the season and the fourth of his series career. JR Fitzpatrick finished second followed by Ron Beauchamp Jr. in third.

-credit: nascar

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About this article
Series NASCAR Canada
Drivers Gilles Villeneuve , Peter Gibbons , Ron Beauchamp Jr. , Don Thomson Jr. , Scott Steckly , Daryl Harr , Andrew Ranger , Cale Gale , Pierre Bourque , Jarrad Whissell , Anthony Simone , Joey Hanssen