Delaware: Season opener preview

CASCAR set to open 2003 Super Series season with MOPAR 300 at Delaware Speedway LONDON, ON - This weekend at Delaware Speedway, Don Thomson Jr. will commence his quest for a third consecutive CASCAR Super Series crown. The MOPAR 300 is first of...

CASCAR set to open 2003 Super Series season with MOPAR 300 at Delaware Speedway

LONDON, ON - This weekend at Delaware Speedway, Don Thomson Jr. will commence his quest for a third consecutive CASCAR Super Series crown. The MOPAR 300 is first of 12 events on the 2003 schedule for Canada's top racing series.

The May 16-18 race weekend at Delaware marks the 10th year in a row that MOPAR has put its name on the Victoria Day holiday long weekend event. And to make the start of the CASCAR Super Series even more special, the racing action will adopt the format of the traditional fall Super Series weekend at Delaware.

Much the same way that NASCAR opens its schedule with its biggest event of the year; the Daytona 500, the MOPAR 300 will kick the 2003 CASCAR season off in style with a full slate of races, over three days, at Delaware Speedway.

The long gap since Don Thomson won his second National championship, last September at Delaware, will come to an end on Friday (May 16) when time trials start at 6 p.m. The two fastest drivers will automatically be locked into the top two starting positions for Sunday's main event; the MOPAR 300 (May 18). The timed laps will also set the starting fields for the two, 100-lap qualifying Sprint races, which start at 8 p.m. on Friday night.

Based on the results of the 100 lappers - and taking into account provisional starting positions for those who don't qualify for Sunday's field through time trials or the Sprint races - the entire starting grid for the MOPAR 300 will be set by the end of Friday night's racing program.

There are several important themes as the CASCAR competitors and teams make their final preparations in advance of the MOPAR 300. For Thomson, the goal is clear. The Home Hardware Chevy driver is looking to start his hunt for a third Super Series National championship at the very track where he won his second title, last September. Although the points championship outcome was satisfying for the veteran racer, he no doubt wants to improve on his 15th-place finish in the Great Canadian Race, after losing a tire on the racetrack and over a dozen laps in the pits, making repairs.

Another racer to watch this weekend will be two-time series champion Peter Gibbons (1999 & 2000). The Chevy driver came from three laps down in last year's season finale at Delaware en route to a second-place finish. The Stouffville, ON racer is fiercely competitive and was frustrated by the misfortune that saw him go winless in feature races during the 2002 season. Gibbons is determined not to let that happen again.

And any discussion of potential Delaware race winners would be incomplete without mentioning Steve Robblee. Also a two-time Super Series champion (1989 & 1992), the Dorchester, ON racer is a legend at the half-mile, London-area oval. Robblee - who has raced in only a handful of Super Series races during the past few seasons - stunned the series' regulars last September at Delaware when he came from a lap down to win the Great Canadian Race. The veteran driver recently collected his record-setting 100th CASCAR feature victory, with a win at Delaware, and is about to start his quest for a fourth-consecutive CASCAR CARQUEST Sportsman Series championship.

Fans at Delaware will notice several changes when they show up at the track for the MOPAR 300 race weekend. During the off-season, three-time National champion Dave Whitlock (1991, 1997 & 1998) converted the Whitlock Motorsports stable of cars over to Intrepids, which means that he, Mark Dilley and Super Series rookie Bryan Cathcart will all be racing with MOPAR power.

Two more MOPAR racers - Ron Beauchamp Jr. and DJ Kennington - will also have a new look at Delaware. Beauchamp's #60 Intrepid has a new paint scheme, featuring the new MOPAR logo and a barbed-wire theme. And last year's points runner-up, Kennington, will be driving the #37 Snap On Tools / Castrol Intrepid, following the amalgamation of the #3 and #17 teams, during the off-season.

WEEKEND SCHEDULE: <pre> FRIDAY, MAY 16 2:30 p.m. Spectator Gates Open 6:00 p.m. CASCAR Super Series Time Trials 7:45 p.m. Introductions 8:00 p.m. GREEN FLAG: 1st 100 lap Qualifying Sprint Race 9:00 p.m. GREEN FLAG: 2nd 100 lap Qualifying Sprint Race

SATURDAY, MAY 17 5:00 p.m. Spectator Gates Open 7:00 p.m. Racing - Street Stocks, Modifieds, Trucks & King of the Hill * The CASCAR Super Series is not part of Saturday's official show

SUNDAY, MAY 18 11:00 a.m. Spectator Gates Open 11:15 a.m. Driver Autograph Session 12:35 p.m. Parade Laps, Official Welcome, Driver Introductions, Anthems 2:15 p.m. GREEN FLAG: MOPAR 300 </pre> MOPAR 300 RACE WEEKEND NOTES: Robbie Thompson, the 2001 CASCAR Super Series rookie of the year, won last year's spring race at Delaware. It was his lone feature win in CASCAR. Thomson is currently campaigning as a rookie in the USAR Hooter's Pro Cup Series... St. Thomas, ON racer DJ Kennington won the pole for last year's season-opening race at Delaware Speedway... In recent years, the Super Series' opener at Delaware has been 250 laps, in length. This year, the distance has been increased to 300 laps. Coupled with the Twin 100 Qualifying Sprint races on Friday night, race fans will witness 500 laps of Super Series action at Delaware this weekend.

KAWARTHA SPEEDWAY REACTION: CASCAR is aware of the situation regarding the May 12, 2003 statement from Kawartha Downs Ltd., announcing that stock car racing has been discontinued at Kawartha Speedway. The 2003 CASCAR Super Series schedule includes a pair of events at Kawartha Speedway (June 8 and September 21)."Kawartha has informed us of its decision, and CASCAR is working on a contingency plan to address this situation. Obviously, this turn of events isn't something we wanted to deal with at this time, but we're very confident that the 2003 Super Series schedule will continue to be the strongest one CASCAR has ever presented. We will make our plans public as soon as possible," said CASCAR president Tony Novotny.

-cascar-

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Series NASCAR Canada
Drivers Dave Whitlock , Ron Beauchamp Jr. , Don Thomson Jr. , Bryan Cathcart