Trois-Rivieres: Round nine preview

NASCAR Canadian Tire Series News & Notes - Grand Prix de Trois-Rivieres * GP3R 100 Notebook * Full Throttle Energy Drink 200 Post-Race Notebook * Trouble Finds Steckly At Mosport Speedway Gibbons Motoring Along Internationally Peter Gibbons...

NASCAR Canadian Tire Series News & Notes - Grand Prix de Trois-Rivieres
* GP3R 100 Notebook
* Full Throttle Energy Drink 200 Post-Race Notebook
* Trouble Finds Steckly At Mosport Speedway

Gibbons Motoring Along Internationally

Peter Gibbons has powered more race cars to Victory Lane than just his own. Gibbons Motorsports has built motors for racers throughout Canada for many years.

Gibbons' (No. 1 Canadian Tire/Mobil Super Chevrolet) name forever is etched into Canadian stock-car history and lore not only for his prowess behind the wheel, but also for lending a helping hand to his fellow competitors.

The bulk of Gibbons' motor work at his shop in North Carolina these days is custom work for hot rods that rarely see the road; let alone a race track. "The racing engine business has gotten so specialized and the margin is razor thin," said Gibbons. "The big thing now are hot rod motors. People want to put high quality engines into these vintage and custom-built cars and the demand is high."

But he still builds the power plants for his own cars and helps countless other competitors out when they are in need.

"I've helped a lot of guys out in this garage at a very affordable price. I think it is very important to keep all these cars running week in and week out," he said. "Some of the motor programs out there are pretty intense, so I try to help as many guys as I can."

Gibbons branched out to North Carolina in the mid-1980s to help further his racing career, but still kept his Canadian roots and maintains a residence in Stouffville, Ontario.

"It's the heart of NASCAR down there and that is where my business is based and where I'll eventually retire," Gibbons said, "but Canada is home and Canadian Tire has been awfully good to me over the years."

Driving the Canadian Tire Chevrolet in the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series, Gibbons does not feel a sense of being the flag bearer for the series.

"No, I really don't, but I think because I have been with them so long without them being a title sponsor of the series," he said. "I think it is great their name is on the series. They are a super company to work with and are committed to both programs."

The one thing both Gibbons and Canadian Tire have not experienced in the Canadian Tire Series is a win. He has led the most laps of any driver not to win a race in the one-plus year history of the series despite clearly having the car to beat on more than one occasion.

"We've had some great runs spoiled by bad luck. There's no doubt about that. Those are things that happen in racing, though," he said. "I'd like to win a race, not for me, but rather for Canadian Tire."

Another opportunity for a win comes this weekend at the Grand Prix de Trois-Rivieres. This season, noting the success of Ford on the road courses, Gibbons has switched to a Ford from his usual Chevy in the four road-course events.

"The Fords are just pulling more power and handle great, I think" he said.

Also, Trois-Rivieres is a place where he enjoys racing and has won before.

"We won there in 2000 and it is such a great track," Gibbons said. "It's a handling track that doesn't stress the motor like the other road courses in this series."

Couple the fondness for the track with his prior success, along with the thousands of race-crazy fans sure to be on hand, and it might just be the winning recipe for Gibbons.

***

The Race: GP3R 100

The Place: Grand Prix de Trois-Rivieres, Trois-Rivieres, Quebec
The Date: Sunday, Aug. 17

The Time: 3 p.m. ET
TV Schedule: TSN, 1 a.m., Aug. 31 (delayed)

Track Layout: 1.530-mile paved road course
Race Purse: $87,244 CAD

2007 Winner: Kerry Micks
2007 Pole: J.R. Fitzpatrick

Schedule: Friday: Practice 4:40-5:20 p.m., Saturday: Time Trials 10:55 a.m.

***

Trouble Finds Steckly At Mosport Speedway

Most racers don't publicly wish bad luck on anyone, especially a well-respected, quality competitor like Scott Steckly (No. 22 Tow Truck in a Box/Erb Group Dodge), but everyone in the Canadian Tire Series garage was wondering if, and when, the Steckly camp was going to face adversity in 2008.

Steckly has plain dominated his competition this year. Heading into last weekend's race, Steckly had finished inside the top five in all seven events including three victories, and looked to be well on his way to another win at Mosport Speedway.

After rain scrubbed time trials, the field was lined up by points on Sunday, thus handing the pole position to the points leader, Steckly. Once again, his Dodge was the class of the field. He opened up a four-second lead on the .500-mile oval and only saw it shrink while mired in lapped traffic. Just past the halfway point of the 200-lap event, Steckly had put all but seven cars a lap down in leading every lap. However, the bad luck which the No. 22 team had avoided all season was about to rear its ugly head. On Lap 126, Steckly's Dodge Avenger started spilling smoke and fluid, the telltale signs of an engine failure.

As a result, the driver out of Milverton, Ontario, saw one-third of his points lead evaporate, but he still maintains a 96-point edge on Don Thomson Jr. (No. 4 Home Hardware Chevrolet).

"The car was as good as it has been all year," said Steckly. "We had a good lead before the motor let go. It is disappointing for all of us, but we'll be ready for Trois-Rivieres."

News & Notes

The Race: This event is the ninth 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 30 cars, including provisionals. The first 25 cars will qualify through NASCAR Road Race (group) qualifying. The remaining five spots will be awarded through the provisional process. The race will be 42 laps covering just over 100 kilometers (64.26 miles).

The Track: The street course of Grand Prix de Trois-Rivieres is a nine-turn, 1.53-mile track. Differing from the other three road-course events on the schedule, on le Circuit de Trois-Rivieres the cars race in a counter-clockwise motion.

The Records: The one-lap qualifying record for the Canadian Tire Series is 68.573 seconds (80.323 mph) set by J.R. Fitzpatrick on Aug. 18, 2007. The 41-lap race record is held by Kerry Micks at 1 hour, 10 minutes, 54 seconds set Aug. 19, 2007 for an average speed of 53.086 mph. This year's event, however, is slated to go 42 laps.

A Season Ago: Micks and Andrew Ranger dueled to the very end with both cars crossing the finish line under heavy contact. The .012-of-a-second margin of victory is the smallest in series history.

Also On Tap: Joining the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series this weekend is the Grand Am Koni Challenge, Atlantic Championship, Star Mazda Series, Playboy Mazda MX-5 and Castrol Canadian Touring Car Championship in the full weekend of racing.

Full Throttle Energy Drink 200 Post-Race Notebook

First Win On An Oval: With his win at Mosport Speedway, Kerry Micks (No. 02 Beyond Digital Imaging Ford) notched his first Canadian Tire Series triumph on an oval track. His previous two series wins came on the road courses of Montreal and Trois-Rivieres last August.

Whitlock Teams Up With POINTTS: The Full Throttle Energy Drink 200 was the first of a two-race partnership between Dave Whitlock (No. 39 Dickies/NMT Dodge) and POINTTS The Traffic Ticket Specialists, Canada's original and the world's largest and most successful independent traffic ticket agency. POINTTS provides "professional, affordable legal representation in court" to motorists charged with traffic violations. Whitlock will also carry the POINTTS banner at Cayuga Motor Speedway later this season.

First Time For Everything: The Full Throttle Energy Drink 200 fell victim to the elements on Saturday and early showers on Sunday mixed with a questionable forecast later in the day forced the cancellation of time trials. So, for the first time in 20 races, the starting grid was lined up per the rule book.

Fitzpatrick Again In A Dodge: For the second time this season, J.R. Fitzpatrick (No. 84 Fitzpatrick Motorsports Dodge) jumped out of his customary Chevy and into a Dodge. The No. 84 team is still adjusting to the new ride. He finished 13th at Mosport Speedway this time around after placing 12th earlier in the season at Barrie Speedway.

Lost In The Shuffle: The dream season being put together by Scott Steckly (No. 22 Tow Truck in a Box/Erb Group Dodge) has overshadowed the performance of D.J. Kennington (No. 17 Castrol/NPP Dodge), who has four podium finishes this season, including a pair each of second and third-place finishes. But Kennington's stellar performance in 2008 has been outdone by Steckly's amazing six podium finishes this year, which includes three wins and three second-place efforts.

Mobil 1 Command Performance of the Race Award: As a reward for his NASCAR Canadian Tire Series victory at Mosport Speedway, Micks collects $1,500 from Mobil 1 for his effort.

Mopar Fast Five: This program awards the top five finishing Dodges in the race. In the Full Throttle Energy Drink 200, Mark Dilley (No. 9 Dodge/Leland Industries Dodge) finished second and thus earned a $2,000 bonus as the top-finishing Dodge. Kennington finished third overall and was the second-highest finishing Dodge, which earned him $1,250. Picking up $1,000 for finishing as the third-highest Dodge was John Gaunt (No. 12 Centennial Chrysler Dodge). Collecting $500 for placing fourth among the Dodge entrants was Jason Hathaway (No. 3 Snap-on Tools/Super 8 Dodge). Rounding out the top five Dodges was Dave Whitlock, who receives $250.

POWERade Power Move: Improving his position the most over the course of the race was Jim Lapcevich (No. 25 Tim Hortons Chevrolet). After starting 20th on the grid, he worked his way forward and finished eighth. As a result, he earned the $1,000 award. It was his first top-10 finish of the season.

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. Don Thomson Jr. (No. 4 Home Hardware Chevrolet) lost a lap to Steckly early on but charged forward after pit stop adjustments to finish fourth. This was the second time Thomson collected the $1,000 award this season.

-credit: nascar

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Series NASCAR Canada
Drivers Peter Gibbons , Dave Whitlock , D.J. Kennington , Mark Dilley , Kerry Micks , Don Thomson Jr. , Scott Steckly , Jim Lapcevich , Andrew Ranger , J.R. Fitzpatrick , Jason Hathaway , John Gaunt