Cayuga: Round one preview

A Look Back: Thomson Collects Win in Inaugural Race TSN Continues as Television Home for NASCAR Canadian Tire Series Cayuga Adds Another Race to its Rich History Ranger Ready to Go for Title Defense What a difference a year makes for Andrew ...

A Look Back: Thomson Collects Win in Inaugural Race
TSN Continues as Television Home for NASCAR Canadian Tire Series
Cayuga Adds Another Race to its Rich History

Ranger Ready to Go for Title Defense

What a difference a year makes for Andrew Ranger (No. 27 Tide/Wal-Mart Ford Fusion).

Even at the young age of 20, his racing resume was long and varied, but there was just one stock car race on it, and it wasn't a particularly good outing. Now, at 21, he is the defending champion, of all things, a stock car racing series -- the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series presented by Sirius Satellite Radio.

Like all championships, it was built upon an entire season of success. He took control of the point standings after winning the season's second race at Mosport International Raceway and never relinquished it. All the while, he withstood challenges from Canada's best and most-experienced stock car drivers -- Don Thomson Jr., Peter Gibbons, Mark Dilley, J.R. Fitzpatrick and D.J. Kennington.

"That was last year and it's over now," said Ranger. "It's a new year and time to start all over again."

It is a new year, but this time around there is a familiarity with both the tracks and the car that was not there a season ago which gives the Roxton Pond, Quebec driver a sense of comfort. Something else Ranger has this year -- a target on his back, but this is of little concern, too.

"Everyone wants to win," said Ranger. "I don't feel any pressure about being the champion. When the race starts, everyone just wants to win that race and do their best."

The foot injured earlier in the year in an motorcycle ice racing accident is a non-issue as well. Rehabilitation continues, but there are no limitations from his doctors as the season commences.

"I can walk, jog and ride a bike. It feels great. I'm ready to go."

There's no doubt Ranger's title came as a product of his success on the road courses. He finished first or second in all four road course events last season. However, his ability to handle the majority of the schedule, the ovals, and keep the car on the track cannot be overlooked. In fact, his average finish on the oval tracks was a more-than-respectable 7.25, including three top fives.

"We did pretty well on the ovals. We led some laps along the way and got some good finishes," he stated.

He does not feel a win on an oval course brings about a magical stamp of approval from the stock car racing world.

"I think the other competitors know what we are capable of and respect our program," Ranger said. "Don't get me wrong, though. I do want to win an oval race, but the situation has to present itself when racing for points."

Joining Ranger in the Jacombs Racing stable will be former Champ Car standout and fellow Quebec native Alex Tagliani. Last season, Tagliani competed in Montreal and Trois-Rivieres.

"It'll be nice to have a teammate at the oval tracks as well as the road courses," said Ranger. "I don't know what the advantages are yet. Alex, like I was, is pretty new to these cars and most of the tracks. We'll just have to see how it all comes together. I am excited about it, though."

While Ranger did suffer three fractures of his left foot in the motorcycle spill in mid-February, it happened after Daytona Speedweeks which allowed him to gain valuable experience. He competed along with Colin Braun, Brian Frisselle and Mark Wilkins in a Daytona Prototype in the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona. They finished 19th in the DP class and 48th overall. More importantly for him, though, was his experience in the ARCA RE/MAX Series at Daytona International Speedway. He failed to qualify for the event, but the seat time in the heavier steel-bodied car will prove valuable as his career progresses.

"It didn't go as I would have liked, but the chance to handle the heavier car on a track that size was good," he said.

Heading into the Crown Jewel 200 at Cayuga Motor Speedway, Ranger feels good both mentally and physically.

"I am very much ready to go. I like the track at Cayuga. It is fast," Ranger stated. "It's a little bumpy in places, but that really helps concentration. It's been a long (off-season) and it is time to get 2008 underway."

Whitlock Teams with Cause Close to His Heart

Dave Whitlock is partnering for the 2008 season with the Prostate Cancer Research Foundation of Canada and will carry their logo on the rear quarter panel of his No. 39 Dickies/NMT Nitrex Dodge Avenger.

"Given the fact that cancer has stricken my family numerous times, I am a keen supporter of any type of cancer detection," said Whitlock. "I am very honored to be able to assist them in getting their message out to the male population of NASCAR."

The Prostate Cancer Research Foundation of Canada is the leading national organization devoted solely to eliminating the threat of prostate cancer. Their mission is to raise funds for the prevention, treatment and cure, as well as the education of Canadians through awareness and advocacy.

"By working with Whitlock Motorsports, we're appealing to men and their families through the popularity of NASCAR," said Greg Sarney, the foundation's vice president for Corporate Development and Marketing.

Cayuga Motor Speedway: Canada's Crown Jewel

Cayuga Motor Speedway has been the site for many of Canada's top motorsports events since its opening in 1966.

Top names in racing have competed at the track over the years including Bobby Allison, Dale Earnhardt, Bill Elliott, Tony Stewart and Darrell Waltrip.

The .625-mile semi-banked oval was a staple track of the CASCAR Super Series and has become that for the Canadian Tire Series as well. The track hosted the first-ever series event last May 26, won by Don Thomson Jr. Derek Lynch earned the victory last Sept. 1 at the facility which covers nearly 300 acres with 1,500 campsites. This will be the third series event at Cayuga.

The one-lap qualifying record for the Canadian Tire Series at Cayuga is held by D.J. Kennington and was set during time trials for that inaugural event. He posted a lap time of 20.785 seconds which translates to an average speed of 108.251 mph.

A Look Back: Thomson Collects Win in Inaugural Race

It was a race that everyone wanted to win. After years of rumors and hopefulness, NASCAR, at last, had set up shop in Canada and the first event was at hand.

The race had the look of almost any season-opening event -- a lot of shiny racecars, realistic dreams for every team and anxious drivers. However, this was not just any season opener. This was the inaugural race for the brand new NASCAR Canadian Tire Series presented by Sirius Satellite Radio -- the first NASCAR event by either a regional or national series in many years.

"It was a little sloppy at times out there, but I think that was just because everyone wanted to win it so bad. I know I did," said the victorious Don Thomson Jr.

The multi-time CASCAR Super Series champion was no stranger to big wins in his career, but it was easy to detect the specialness of this one. "I've been lucky enough to win some races, but this one is right at the top of the list, if not the very top. What a thrill! We've all waited for this moment for a long time. No one will ever be able to take this away from me -- I won the first one," he exclaimed.

D.J. Kennington was the polesitter for the event, but his time at the front of the pack was short- lived due to a broken rear trailing arm after just a single lap. All told, eight different drivers led during the 200-lap race, but Thomson led a race-high 79 circuits around the .625-mile Cayuga track.

"I felt great about the time we put up in qualifying and was very confident heading into the race, but it just wasn't meant to be, I guess," said Kennington.

A Quick Look at the 2008 Season

The first year of the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series exceeded every expectation. Now, it is time to build on that success and grow the series while establishing a solid foundation for the future.

Defending champion Andrew Ranger does not have the element of surprise on his side as he did a year ago. He will look to maintain his mastery of the road course tracks where he finished first or second in all four last season. His performance on the ovals was solid as well, but he aims at a victory in 2008.

Expect to see Don Thomson Jr. challenging Ranger every step of the way. Thomson was none too happy with his performance in 2007, despite finishing fourth in the point standings.

The Canadian Tire Series, once again, finds its strong suit is experience. Several veteran drivers return with realistic championship goals. The likes of Mark Dilley, Peter Gibbons and Ron Beauchamp Jr. exhibited their potential at varying times in 2007, but were not able to capture the consistency needed for a championship.

The schedule is very similar to last season's. A notable addition is a trip to Autodrome St-Eustache in Quebec for the summer's second event. The western swing ends on July 26 in Edmonton and teams will have to travel eastward across the country for an Aug. 2 date at Montreal's Circuit Gilles Villeneuve alongside the NASCAR Nationwide Series.

The series also will see some non-Ontario teams increase their participation this season. Jason White, racing out of Sun Peaks, B.C., plans to make as many races as possible. Alberta's Todd Nichol is looking to compete in some eastern events as well. Donald Chisholm, from the maritime province of Nova Scotia, is stepping up his program after a successful debut last season.

What to Watch for in 2008

A Man Possessed ... Five-time CASCAR Super Series champion Don Thomson Jr. had a disappointing season in 2007, at least in his mind. He finished fourth in the final point standings and that was not at all to his liking. Just minutes following the final race of 2007, the tireless veteran all but guaranteed a better performance in 2008.

Road Course Dominance ... Defending series champ Andrew Ranger finished first or second in all four road course events a year ago and was in position to win all four. His three second-place finishes were the result of last-lap passes. Can that same success be duplicated in 2008?

Carrying the Momentum ... Derek Lynch finished the 2007 season as strong or stronger than any other driver. He closed out the season with four consecutive top 10s, three of which were top-five efforts, including his Sept. 1 win at Cayuga.

The Long Haul ... The two western Canada races will be held on July 19 and 26 in Vernon, B.C., and Edmonton, respectively. Just one week after the Edmonton date, the series has a date at Montreal's Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, alongside the NASCAR Nationwide Series, nearly 3,800 kilometers away.

A Wider Scope ... Last year, the core competitors were virtually all Ontario-based teams. In 2008, look for a larger footprint with the western teams of Jason White and Todd Nichol increasing their participation and also, Donald Chisholm, who had a solid debut at his home track last season. The Antigonish, Nova Scotia-based driver also has plans to enter more events this season.

TSN is, Again, Television Home for Canadian Tire Series

For the second consecutive season, TSN, Canada's Sports Leader, will be the exclusive broadcast partner of the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series presented by Sirius Satellite Radio.

TSN will nationally televise 13 one-hour broadcasts -- one for each of the eries' 13 races. Coverage gets underway on May 30 at midnight ET with the Crown Jewel 200, the first race of the season, taking place on the speedy .625-mile oval at Cayuga International Speedway.

The shows will be produced by James Robinson Associates Ltd. and will include race coverage, driver interviews and features. Dave Bradley will provide the play-by-play alongside colour analyst Billy Rowse Jr. Todd Lewis rounds out the broadcast team as pit reporter. The majority of race coverage will air in High Definition.

TSN's NASCAR Canadian Tire Series coverage complements the network's all-encompassing NASCAR programming, which includes full-season action of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and NASCAR Nationwide Series.

The early season will be highlighted by the first visit to Autodrome St-Eustache in Quebec. A trip to western Canada in mid-July will see visits to SunValley Speedway in Vernon, B.C., and to Edmonton for the Rexall Edmonton Indy. The season will culminate with a September trip to the maritime province of Nova Scotia and the season finale at Kawartha Speedway.

The high-banked .333-mile track at Riverside International Speedway in Antigonish, N.S., is a favorite among the competitors. The track is a scale model of the legendary Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway.

***

The Race: Crown Jewel 200

The Place: Cayuga Motor Speedway, Hamilton, Ont.
The Date: May 24

The Time: 7:32 p.m. ET
TV Schedule: Midnight, May 30 (delayed)

Track Layout: .625-mile paved
Race Purse: $68,511 CAD

2006 Winner: Don Thomson Jr.
2006 Pole: D.J. Kennington

Schedule: Saturday: Practice 12 noon - 2 p.m., Time Trials 4:30 p.m.

- credit: nascar

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About this article
Series NASCAR Canada
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Bill Elliott , Tony Stewart , Alex Tagliani , Colin Braun , Jason White , Gilles Villeneuve , Peter Gibbons , Dave Whitlock , D.J. Kennington , Mark Dilley , Don Thomson Jr. , Bobby Allison , Andrew Ranger , Mark Wilkins , Brian Frisselle , J.R. Fitzpatrick , Derek Lynch , James Robinson