NASCAR Canadian Tire Series News & Notes - Saskatoon
Nichol Plays Matchmaker In Saskatoon
Every good relationship has that certain somebody who made the first introductions. For Auto Clearing Motor Speedway in Saskatoon, Sask., and the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series presented by Mobil 1, that somebody was Todd Nichol.
Nichol (No. 6 Bayer Crop Science/Norton Chevrolet), who has been a competitor in the Canadian Tire Series since the beginning and also has raced quite a bit at the Saskatoon track decided to put two and two together, but it wasn't quite that easy.
"To me, it made sense. Canadian Tire Series teams were traveling all the way across the country to race two times," said Nichol. "There's this great new track sitting there in Saskatoon, so why not add a race on the way back from Edmonton and Vernon (B.C.)."
As the Canadian Tire Series prepares to make its second visit to the quaint .333-mile oval after a smashing debut there a year ago, Nichol looks to be the hero, but he could easily could have been the goat.
"As with any club-operated track, it's difficult to reach any kind of consensus and there were people worried about the finances of bringing a show the size and scope of the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series," he stated. "I wasn't worried. I knew it could be done, so I personally guaranteed the money."
A successful businessman in a wide variety of areas including the auto body supply industry, Nichol had no personal gain at stake--just risk.
"If there was going to be a profit, I wanted no part of that. I was just there to cover the loss if it came to that," Nichol said.
Last year's inaugural event was sold out weeks in advance which lent a clue to what was possible and another capacity crowd is expected Wednesday night.
The true measure of credibility, as far as Nichol was concerned, came when Bayer Crop Science got on board in the way of sponsorship.
"When Mike Gerhardt brought Bayer Crop Science to the table, I knew we had something special," said Nichol. "This is a huge company with no motorsports history. They're the ones who deserve the credit. They had the vision on how to use this to their advantage in the marketplace."
Nichol also credits the efforts of Saskatoon Stock Car Racing Association President Trent Seidel and Track Promoter Herm Hordal for championing the cause and seeing it through.
"My role in this was tiny. All these other people laid the foundation and did the work," he said. "This is going to be a successful event for years to come. I'm honored to be able to compete in it."
The Race: Velocity Prairie Thunder
The Place: Auto Clearing Motor Speedway, Saskatoon, Sask.
The Date: Wednesday, Aug. 4
The Time: 7:30 p.m. CT
The Distance: 250 laps / 83.25 miles
Race Purse: $89,248 CAD
TV Schedule: TSN, Aug. 21, 1 p.m. ET
2009 Winner: Scott Steckly 2009 Polesitter: Don Thomson Jr.
Practice 1:30-2:30 p.m.; Qualifying 5 p.m.
Weenk Getting His Feet On The Ground
For Nathan Weenk, racing stock cars really only has one major difference from the monster truck racing to which he is accustomed, and that is distance from the ground.
"The competition is there along with the intensity and all the fans," says Weenk. "The biggest difference is in a monster truck you are six feet up in the air, and in these things you're like six inches off the ground."
Weenk, out of Lethbridge, Alberta, has piloted the Saskatoon, Saskatchewan-based No. 48 Mid-West Combustion Chevrolet for just two races, but he likes what he sees with the fledgling team.
"Owner Kevin Kozack and the team have the best equipment. There's no question," said Weenk. "All the tools to succeed are in place. I look forward to racing this car as much as they'll let me. This is a big time professional series."
Weenk logged a 13th-place finish a season ago in his series debut at Auto Clearing Motor Speedway in Saskatoon and is coming off a ninth-place effort last Saturday at Motoplex Speedway in Vernon, B.C.
Saskatoon News & Notes
The Race: This event is the seventh of 13 races on the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series presented by Mobil 1 schedule and the fourth of eight oval-track events on the slate in 2010. It is the final leg of the three-race swing through Western Canada and it is the series' second visit to the track.
The Procedure: The starting field is 22 cars, including provisionals. The first 19 cars will qualify through two-lap time trials. The remaining three spots will be awarded through the provisional process. The race will be 250 laps covering 83.25 miles.
The Track: Auto Clearing Motor Speedway is a .333-mile oval with graduated banking. Saskatoon Stock Car Racing Association Ltd. originated from the Saskatoon Stock Car Racing Club that was formed in 1954. Racing in Saskatoon began at the 8th Street Racing Oval. In 1970, as a result of city expansion, stock-car racing moved to the current Prairieland Exhibition at Bridge City Raceway. In 1999, the City of Saskatoon expanded once again which paved the way for a new track, Auto Clearing Motor Speedway, to be built. Construction of the new track began in April 2005.
The Records: The one-lap qualifying record for the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series at the track is 14.949 seconds (80.193 mph), set by Don Thomson Jr. on July 29, 2009. The 250-lap race record was established in last year's inaugural event on July 29 by Scott Steckly at 1 hour, 19 minutes, 9 seconds for an average speed of 63.108 mph.
A Season Ago: Steckly rebounded from a blown engine in practice and a start at the rear of the field to win the first NASCAR-sanctioned event in the province of Saskatchewan. Thomson started on the pole and finished second with DJ Kennington coming home third.
Tailgating: The All-Green Recycling Tailgate Party is set for Tuesday, Aug. 3 from 5-10 p.m. CT at the River Landing in Saskatoon. Several drivers, teams, cars and haulers will be on hand along with musical entertainment, kids' activities and fun for all.
NCATS Notebook: Cruisin' The Dub 300 Wrap-Up
Tightening Up: The championship points battle is heating up. DJ Kennington (No. 17 Castrol Edge Dodge), with his third-place effort at Motoplex Speedway, closed to within seven points of leader JR Fitzpatrick (No. 84 Schick Hydro Chevrolet). Race winner Scott Steckly (No. 22 Canadian Tire/MotoMaster Dodge) is just 55 points off the pace.
New Car Smell: There's nothing like a new car and Kennington will agree. He debuted a new oval-track car this season and it is nearly undefeated. He has won all three poles on ovals, to date, and won two of those races--only coming up short in the Cruisin' The Dub 300 after dominating much of the race.
White Not Right: Brothers, Jason and Jim White (A&W/Zimmer-Wheaton GMC Chevrolet) had high hopes at their home track of Motoplex Speedway, but they were foiled by engine troubles, causing both drivers to retire their cars early. Unrelated, Derek White (No. 99 Game Busters Chevrolet) also experienced engine woes in British Columbia.
Mobil 1 Command Performance Driver of the Race: Steckly collected $1,500 from Mobil 1 as the Command Performance Driver of the Race award winner. It was his second Mobil 1 award this season.
Autolite Time To Change Your Position: The Autolite Spark Plugs Time To Change Your Position Award that goes to the driver who improves his finishing position the most over the previous event. Kennington earned the $1,500 prize by bouncing back from a sub-par performance in Edmonton.
Dodge-Mopar Fast Five: This program rewards the top five finishing Dodges in the race eligible for the award. In the Cruisin' The Dub 300, race winner Steckly was the top-finishing Dodge and earned $2,000. Jason Hathaway (No. 3 Snap-on Tools/Rockstar Dodge) placed third among the Dodges with his runner-up finish and earned $1,500. Kennington grabbed the third spot and $1,000. The performance of Mark Dilley (No. 9 Rheem Dodge) ranked him fourth among the Dodge entrants and netted $750. Ron Beauchamp Jr. (No. 60 Mopar/Mobil 1 Dodge) finished 10th overall and was the fifth highest-finishing Dodge and collected $500 in the process.
Coca-Cola Move of the Race: Improving his position the most over the course of the race was rookie driver Nathan Weenk (No. 48 Mid-West Combustion Chevrolet). He started from the 18th position and finished ninth which earned him the $1,000 award from Coca-Cola.
MAHLE Clevite Engine Builder of the Race: The driver who compiles the most points in a specialized system involving qualifying, race finish and laps led collects this $1,100 special award. Kennington collected the most MAHLE points at Motoplex Speedway and is currently second to Fitzpatrick in the season standings.
VTech Free Pass: VTech is honoring the driver who logs the highest race finish after receiving a 'free pass' during the event with a $1,000 award. Hathaway made the most of his VTech free pass at Motoplex Speedway and finished second.
Van Domselaar Keeps Perspective
Reality always puts racing, along with many other things, in perspective. For James Van Domselaar, both real life good news and bad news arrived almost simultaneously in 2007.
Shortly after Van Domselaar (No. 14 Steel-Craft Door Product Chevrolet) found out that he and his wife, Tamera, were expecting a child, the news of Tamera being diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma was delivered.
"You never expect news like that and after feeling sorry for yourself for a while, you try and figure out ways to beat it," said Van Domselaar, out of Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta.
After starting chemotherapy just six days following the birth of a healthy baby girl in January 2008, Tamera has battled back to health, but that has not stopped the Van Domselaar Motorsports family from using racing as a vehicle to raise not only money to find a cure, but also awareness of the success rate of remission with early detection.
"We can do more good for the cause with this race car than almost anything else," Van Domselaar said.
Nothing would make him happier than to join the ranks of full-time competitors in the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series presented by Mobil 1, but life at home needs to be more settled.
"I've got a great sponsor that may be interested in something like that," he stated. "But, for right now, I've got more urgent matters at home. We'll do as much as we can because it's really fun to get out and compete with these guys."
Up Next: Trois-Rivieres
The NASCAR Canadian Tire Series presented by Mobil 1 next heads to Circuit de Trois-Rivieres (Que.) to take on the 1.53-mile street course just north of Montreal for the GP3R 100 on Sunday, Aug. 15.
The 42-lap race will be the fourth of five road-course races on the 2010 slate of events.
Last season, Andrew Ranger picked up his second straight Trois-Rivieres win by edging Anthony Simone and DJ Kennington. The hot Quebec weekend saw a star-studded lineup that included Jacques Villeneuve and Alex Tagliani.