Delaware season opener preview

CASCAR Super Series season kicks off this weekend at Delaware Speedway with the MOPAR 250 LONDON, ON -- The CASCAR Super Series is set to take the green flag on its 2005 season, and that means the tour is headed to London's Delaware Speedway for...

CASCAR Super Series season kicks off this weekend at Delaware Speedway with the MOPAR 250

LONDON, ON -- The CASCAR Super Series is set to take the green flag on its 2005 season, and that means the tour is headed to London's Delaware Speedway for the MOPAR 250 on the May long weekend.

On the heels of a highly successful CASCAR Media Day, held Tuesday, May 17 at the new Toronto-area NASCAR Speedpark, the attention of the racers, teams and fans now turns to Delaware's half-mile oval. Qualifying for the MOPAR 250 takes place on Saturday afternoon, while the season-opener is slated to start on Sunday at 2 p.m.

The main question on everyone's minds is whether or not anyone in is up to the task of denying CASCAR's four-time and reigning champ, Don Thomson Jr., in his 'drive for five'.

Thomson didn't have a target on his Home Hardware jacket at Media Day, but he may as well have. The Hamilton, ON racer has set the bar in Canadian motorsports over the past six seasons -- winning two CASCAR Eastern Series titles immediately prior to his astounding run of four-straight CASCAR Super Series National crowns.

If Thomson is feeling the heat of having Canada's top stock car racers poised to knock him off the top of the hill, he isn't letting it show. "We're going into the season with high hopes," said Thomson, at Media Day. "Obviously, our plan is to do it all again; but it's tough. There are a lot of good competitors out there and we've managed to squeak out four championships in a row. All we can do is try to come to the track with the best cars we can, and try to drive smart."

Thomson continued, "The thing we were really excited about last year was the number of poles we won; that's our goal again. I know there's a lot of attention on us right now, but I'm really trying to have faith in our team and in the car and stay settled down. Last year, I had no choice but to turn up the wick because Peter Gibbons started out of the gate so fast."

Speaking of Gibbons, the usually soft-spoken veteran was talking a little 'trash' at Media Day, trying to get into Thomson's head in advance of the MOPAR 250. Discussing his goals and plans for '05, the Canadian Tire Chevy driver said, "Maybe if we used Donnie's theory of winning the points and not races, we would have more championships. But I would rather win races. Donnie does a real good job and I think he could win more races if he'd step up the bar a bit and take that chance on the edge like I do-- for us, it's all about running up front and winning races."

At the outset of the CASCAR Super Series season, CASCAR founder and President Tony Novotny is excited about the momentum the series has built during the off-season.

"I'm pumped up. It's great to see the enthusiasm surrounding the series. The cars and drivers look great and we had an amazing media turnout today. I don't think we've ever had as much interest in the series at this point in the season, and that's a great reflection on the teams and all of the hard work they've done in the off-season.

"The alignment with NASCAR certainly didn't hurt," continued Novotny. "We were also happy to introduce the new Dodge Charger today in such a public way. Put all of the good news and momentum into the pot, stir it up, and it's a pretty good deal. The 'shiny side' is definitely up!"

CASCAR WESTERN SERIES: The first race of the CASCAR Western Series takes place on Sunday afternoon at Sun Valley Motor Speedway, in Vernon, BC. The KISS FM 200 will see reigning Western Series champ Kevin Dowler start his 2005 title defense.

<pre> MOPAR 250 CASCAR SUPER SERIES WEEKEND SCHEDULE

SATURDAY, MAY 21, 2005 (Sponsored by Dodge) 10:00 a.m. Pit Gates Open 12:00 - 2:00 p.m. CASCAR Practice 2:30 p.m. Spectator Gates Open 2:45 p.m. CASCAR: All cars on grid for qualifying 3:00 p.m. CASCAR Time Trials 7:00 p.m. RACING: Delaware Speedway Divisions: Late Models, Trucks & Street Stocks

SUNDAY, MAY 22, 2005 11:00 a.m. Spectator Gates Open 11:15 a.m. - 12:15 p.m. CASCAR Driver Autograph Session 12: 35 p.m. Parade Lap 1:30 p.m. Welcomes, Driver Introductions, Anthems 2:00 p.m. START: MOPAR 250 (250 LAPS)

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Series NASCAR Canada
Drivers Kevin Dowler , Peter Gibbons