Points Battle Heating Up For Second Half With seven of 13 events in the books for the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series presented by Mobil 1 in 2010, the battle atop the championship points standings is as tight as ever with no clear-cut advantage for...
Points Battle Heating Up For Second Half
With seven of 13 events in the books for the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series presented by Mobil 1 in 2010, the battle atop the championship points standings is as tight as ever with no clear-cut advantage for any of the contenders.
The top two drivers for the first half of the season have been JR Fitzpatrick (No. 84 Schick Hydro Chevrolet) and DJ Kennington (No. 17 Castrol Edge Dodge), who have combined for five of the seven wins. However, Scott Steckly (No. 22 Canadian Tire / MotoMaster Dodge), Don Thomson Jr. (No. 4 Home Hardware Chevrolet) and Kerry Micks (No. 02 Dickies/Beyond Digital Imaging Ford) are lurking well within striking distance.
The battle, for now, looks as if it's between good friends Fitzpatrick and Kennington. The two have volleyed the points lead three times already this season, and on the surface it appears to be a battle of racing disciplines. Beware, though, appearances can be misleading.
Kennington, to this point, looks to be the stronger of the two on the ovals. He has three wins and a runner-up finish to his credit in four starts. Fitzpatrick, meanwhile, seems to be the king of the road with a pair of wins on road courses.
Two of the next three races come on road courses, tilting the balance in favor of Fitzpatrick while the final three events of the season come on oval tracks, which seemingly gives Kennington the edge.
The catch is this, though. Despite having ultimate success in one discipline, neither driver is a pushover in the other and willing to concede nothing.
"It's going to go down to the end," said Kennington. "I've had the edge on the ovals and him on the road, but he's a short-track racer and we've more than held our own on the road courses over the years."
Fitzpatrick echoes that sentiment and is somewhat amazed at his road-course acumen.
"I'm not one of these 'road-course ringer' guys," he said. "I cut my teeth on short-track ovals. I just have a good feel for the car on road courses and am willing to hang it out there and get the most out of it.
"After running a part-time schedule last year in the (Canadian Tire Series), I came back this year to win the championship. (Kennington) and I will battle to the end which is just fine by me."
Each of their paths have landmines and pit falls. Not only do they have to avoid mechanical issues or bad timing in traffic, but reigning series champion Andrew Ranger is back for the next two road-course events, while 2008 series title winner Steckly looks to be gearing up for a run as is five-time CASCAR champion Thomson.
In any event, the race is on.
The Race: GP3R 100
The Place: Circuit de Trois-Rivieres, Trois-Rivieres, Que.
The Date: Sunday, Aug. 15
The Time: 3:30 p.m. CT
The Distance: 42 laps / 64.26 miles
Race Purse: $98,998 CAD
TV Schedule: TSN, Aug. 22, 4 p.m. ET
2009 Winner: Andrew Ranger
2009 Polesitter: Alex Tagliani
Saturday, Aug. 14: Practice 9:25-10:05 a.m.; Qualifying 3:35 p.m.
Tremblay Back For Trois-Rivieres
Returning to the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series presented by Mobil 1 is Isabelle Tremblay after a solid series debut a month ago in Toronto.
Tremblay, a NASCAR Whelen All-American Series competitor in the Ippersiel Sportsman classification at Autodrome St. Eustache out of St. Hippolyte, Que., has opted to try and work her way into Canada's top stock-car racing series via the road courses. These events, due to the expanse of the tracks, while highly competitive are viewed by some as a little less intense than the knock-down, drag-out fights their series holds on the oval short tracks.
In Trois-Rivieres, she will drive a Skip Ambrose-owned Dodge after serving as a Jacombs Racing teammate to Andrew Ranger in Toronto.
Dave Jacombs came away impressed with her Toronto debut.
"I thought she did great considering it was her first time in one of these races and without a lot of practice time," he said.
Tremblay is one of three female drivers, along with Ashley Taws and Caitlin Johnston, to compete in a Canadian Tire Series race.
Trois-Rivieres News & Notes
The Race: This event is the eighth of 13 races on the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series presented by Mobil 1 schedule and the fourth of five races on road courses this season. It is the series' fourth consecutive year to visit 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 temporary street course of Circuit de Trois-Rivieres is a nine-turn, 1.53-mile track. Differing from the other four road-course events on the schedule, in Trois-Rivieres, the cars race in a counter-clockwise motion as on oval tracks. It is the oldest street course in North America and this year is the 41st edition of the Grand Prix de Trois-Rivieres.
The Records: The one-lap qualifying record for the Canadian Tire Series is 68.374 seconds (80.557 mph) set by Alex Tagliani in August 2009. The race record is held by Andrew Ranger at 1 hour, 3 minutes, 15 seconds set Aug. 17, 2008 for an average speed of 66.764 mph.
Last Year: On a very warm day, Ranger spent much of the early portion of the race battling back and forth with fellow Quebecer Tagliani, who had to retire his car due to engine problems after 25 laps. After that, Ranger went on to outdistance Anthony Simone and DJ Kennington in a green-white-checkered finish to earn his second straight GP3R 100 victory.
Ranger Road Return: With a runner-up finish at Mosport International Raceway in June and a win in Toronto in July, reigning series champion Ranger missed the road-course event in Edmonton on July 25, but he returns to the series to defend his Trois-Rivieres race title. In his last nine NASCAR road-course events, he has six wins, two runner-up finishes and a third-place finish.
Busy Weekend: Joining the Canadian Tire Series at the Grand Prix Trois-Rivieres are NASCAR Grand-Am Continental Tire Challenge (GS and ST classifications), Formula 1600, Star Mazda Championship and the Canadian Touring Car Championship.
NCATS Notebook: Velocity Prairie Thunder Wrap-Up
At Home On Ovals: For the third time in four oval-track events this season, DJ Kennington (No. 17 Castrol Edge Dodge) emerged victorious. Include his win at Kawartha Speedway in last season's finale and Kennington has won in four of the last five NASCAR Canadian Tire Series presented by Mobil 1 events on oval tracks.
Up To The Challenge: With just one Canadian Tire Series start under his belt coming into the season, Nathan Weenk (No. 48 Mid West Combustion Chevrolet) posted back-to-back top-10 finishes at Motoplex Speedway and Auto Clearing Motor Speedway.
Simone Solid: After a nightmarish start to the 2010 season, Anthony Simone (No. 95 Graphix Factory Chevrolet) posted three top-10 finishes on the three-race swing through Western Canada.
Mobil 1 Command Performance Driver of the Race: JR Fitzpatrick (No. 84 Schick Hydro Chevrolet) collected $1,500 from Mobil 1 as the Command Performance Driver of the Race Award winner. It was his fourth Mobil 1 award this season.
Autolite Time To Change Your Position: This award that goes to the driver who improves his finishing position the most over the previous event. Kerry Micks (No. 02 Dickies/Beyond Digital Imaging Ford) earned the $1,500 prize by bouncing back to finish seventh in Saskatoon after a sub-par performance in the prior event.
Dodge-Mopar Fast Five: This program rewards the top five finishing Dodges in the race eligible for the award. In the Velocity Prairie Thunder, race winner Kennington was the top-finishing Dodge and earned $2,000. Scott Steckly (No. 22 Canadian Tire/MotoMaster Dodge) placed third among the Dodges with his fourth-place finish and earned $1,500. Jason Hathaway (No. 3 Snap-on Tools/Rockstar Energy Drink Dodge) grabbed the third spot and $1,000. The performance of Mark Dilley (No. 9 Leland/PartSource Dodge) ranked him fourth among the Dodge entrants and netted $750. Ron Beauchamp Jr. (No. 60 Mopar/Mobil 1 Dodge) finished 11th 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 Fitzpatrick. He started from the 14th position and finished second 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 Auto Clearing Motor Speedway and currently leads 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. John Gaunt (No. 11 Hy-Tech Drilling Dodge) earns this award en route to a fifth-place finish in Saskatoon.
Up Next: Mosport
The NASCAR Canadian Tire Series presented by Mobil 1 next heads to the half-mile oval of Mosport Speedway in Bowmanville, Ont., for the Dickies 200 on Saturday, Aug. 21.
A date change this year slides this event between the two Quebec road-course races in Trois-Rivieres and Montreal.
Last season, Andrew Ranger picked up his second career win on an oval as he out-dueled Scott Steckly and DJ Kennington. Don Thomson Jr. earned the pole position.
Thomson in 2007 and Kerry Micks in 2008 are the other two series winners at the Mosport oval.