Alex Guénette impressive in debut ARCA race at Talladega
After only one test session on a Super Speedway at Daytona earlier this year, 18 year-old Alex Guenette ended up 20th after demonstrating his fast-growing knowledge and abilities as he drove like a veteran in his first ever start at Talladega, the fastest track in all of NASCAR.
Montreal, May 6, 2014 – This first start on the quickest track in all of NASCAR allowed Alex to showcase his growing experience and skills. An overheating problem interrupted a fantastic run in the Top 10 group early in the race after starting 15th, forcing Alex to tone down his attack while managing the engine and oil temperatures. This problem did not prevent him from extracting the maximum from the car under difficult conditions over the last 45 laps of the 76-lap race, and posting a 20th position finish after driving a faultless race.
Qualifying 15th after a fellow racer did not deliver on an essential mutual-help agreement for slipstreaming during qualifying, Alex passed five cars early in the race and stayed in ninth place in the single high speed file for 20 laps, the place to be in order to win the race and a difficult feat to accomplish on the track made slippery by the low downforce settings used to reduce drag and increase top speed.
According to Alex, things started to go wrong on around lap 25: “I was right in there with the fast group when engine temperature shot up 60 C. over one lap, forcing me into the pits to let the team cool down the engine. From that point on, I had to keep an eye on water and oil temperature gauges and ease up on the engine to keep them in check, forcing me out of attack mode and having to stay behind slower cars. I got to try various moves to get the most from what I had, and a couple of incidents and errors by others at the end of the race allowed me to move up five positions and finish a frustrating 20th at the flag. I learned a lot but I am really looking forward to a trouble-free race…”
This simple description by the driver does not do him justice, as he did pull of a few savvy moves given the state of his car. We already talked about gaining five spots off the start and staying with the lead group at the start of the race. After his stop to cool down the engine, Alex stayed in front of the leaders when they came up to lap him, matching their pace and effectiveness until he was forced to ease up when the temperatures started to rise. At one point, Alex and a few other drivers started a second file and passed several cars until he was again forced to slow down and pull back into the main high speed line. And best of all, Alex also registered the 6th quickest lap of the race, less than 0.1 sec from the second quickest driver in the race.
Jacques Guenette shared the same highs and lows as his son. “Running in the lead pack early in the race with an older car shows how well Alex and Crew Chief Mario Gosselin have developed the car and adapted it to the track’s high speeds. Alex did not make one mistake in the whole race, pulling off some great moves while keeping an eye on the engine and taking every advantage from the mistakes of other drivers. He gained a lot of experience in high speed drafting and brought the car home in one piece. A great accomplishment in my book! Now let’s go fix that engine.”
Alex Guenette will be back on track for the first race of the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series, on May 18 at the Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.
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