Don Thomson Jr. Molson Indy preview

TORONTO, ON - When is being the overall points leader not such a good thing? For Don Thomson Jr., the top dog in the CASCAR Castrol Super Series East points chase heading into the Exide 99 Street Fight at the Molson Indy this weekend, that time...

TORONTO, ON - When is being the overall points leader not such a good thing? For Don Thomson Jr., the top dog in the CASCAR Castrol Super Series East points chase heading into the Exide 99 Street Fight at the Molson Indy this weekend, that time is right now.

The Hamilton, ON resident would love nothing better than to go for the win on the streets of Toronto on Saturday afternoon in his Home Hardware #4 Chevrolet Monte Carlo - and he still might. But he will follow the motto of many racers: In order to finish first, one must first finish.

"We set a goal of being in the top five in every race this season," said Thomson in a recent telephone interview. "I'm in kind of a difficult situation, leading the points. Peter Gibbons is not far behind, so I really have to watch what he's doing. If Gibbons finishes well, I have to finishes well. But if Gibbons runs into some problems, I may be able to bust loose." With the points chase building to a fevered pitch, Thomson knows this round of the CASCAR Super Series East will be a key event and prudence might be the best bet in his quest for capturing his second consecutive Eastern crown. But with the added pressure and incentive of racing in front of a huge, live audience in front of many more on national television (SportsNet, Saturday at 3:30 p.m.) for the first time in CASCAR history, the temptation to push for the win might be too much to resist.

"It's tough, you know," said Thomson, whose stated goal is to win both the Eastern and National championships this season. "Nobody remembers who finishes second, but I have to get the points."

Last year, Thomson was running in third place early in the Toronto Molson Indy CASCAR race when an oil leak caused him to spin and dropped him back in the pack. He obviously would like to make amends with a top finish this time out. While many of the racers are doing 'the PR thing' this week, Thomson is still in the teams' Ayr, ON shop, making sure his ride is ready for the weekend.

"You know what, we're still working on it right now," said Thomson on Tuesday afternoon. "We'll probably be busy getting it ready, right up until Friday morning."

Thomson has converted his 1999 oval car over to a road course configuration for this season. Since the beginning of the campaign, he and team owner / teammate John Fitzpatrick have been focusing almost entirely on the ovals, which have been run close together. The strategy has worked with two checkered flags in six outings, as well as the top spot in the championship points chase.

"We flew straight home after Chicoutimi (QC / run July 1) and we've been working on this car ever since." In spite of that tight schedule, Thomson is confident the team has done its homework well enough from the previous year and that the setup will be close out of the box when they arrive at the track for the first practice session at 8 a.m. Friday. "We'll be ready," promised Thomson.

CASCAR QUICK FACTS:
- CASCAR racer John Fitzpatrick will have a new look to his #14 Chevrolet Monte Carlo this weekend as he'll sport the colours of the World Wrestling Federation.
- The annual Inside Track Motorsport News / CASCAR / Exide 99 Street Fight Party takes place tonight at Vinnie's in downtown Toronto. Starting at 7 p.m., at 22 Duncan St. (at Adelaide), many guests are expected for the Indy celebration, including several CASCAR and CART racers, who have confirmed their attendance.

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Series NASCAR Canada
Drivers John Fitzpatrick , Peter Gibbons , Don Thomson Jr.