CENTENNIAL CHRYSLER'S JOHN GAUNT CLOSES THE NASCAR SEASON WITH A TOP-10 FINISH AT KAWARTHA SPEEDWAY BARRIE, ON -- John Gaunt completed his first season back on Canada's elite stock car circuit with a 10th-place run in Sunday's Dodge Charger 250...
CENTENNIAL CHRYSLER'S JOHN GAUNT CLOSES THE NASCAR SEASON WITH A TOP-10 FINISH AT KAWARTHA SPEEDWAY
BARRIE, ON -- John Gaunt completed his first season back on Canada's elite stock car circuit with a 10th-place run in Sunday's Dodge Charger 250 at Kawartha Speedway. The #12 Centennial Chrysler-sponsored Dodge Avenger racer qualified ninth-fastest in the field of 25 for the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series season finale and was in contention for a top finish when late-race contact dropped him several spots, to 10th.
Nonetheless, the Barrie, Ontario resident was happy with his Kawartha outing and proud of the effort put forth by the entire #12 Centennial Chrysler / AKN Sikkens / Vital Signs / Mobil1 / Unitec / Plumbtech/Moen Dodge Avenger team in 2007.
"I qualified the car ninth-fastest which was pretty decent," said Gaunt, after the race. "At the drop of the green flag I had a great car but it started to get tighter and tighter. When we pitted, I kept the guys busy in the pits making quite a few adjustments trying to loosen it up. But just as it was coming around, the sun went down and that changed everything. We took too much wedge out and then we came back in to put some more in, but it was still pretty loose."
Even though his car wasn't perfect for the final sprint to the finish, Gaunt was in position for a strong result. "We had a top-10 car -- maybe seventh or even fifth if we were lucky. But near the end, we had contact with another car during the final restart and that bent the spindle. From there, we fell several spots and ended up 10th. It would have been nice to get a better finish to close out the year."
Looking back at his 12-race season -- which saw him compete in eight oval races and four road course events -- Gaunt saw several bright spots. As well, he has a newfound respect for road racing. "It's a tough, competitive series. We worked hard, but we really have a different opinion now of road racing -- I really like it. We're going to do something about improving even more in those races, because I enjoy them a lot now."
Looking ahead to next season, Gaunt is hoping that the decision is made to have him back behind the wheel of the #12 Centennial Dodge Avenger for 2008. "I would really like to be back in this series again next year, but that has yet to be determined. The team has made a lot of progress during the course of the season, considering everything was brand new for most of us at the start. We've learned lots and we hope to be able to take advantage of that knowledge next season. It's pretty tough to step into this division with a completely new operation. This is an excellent series and I think it's only going to be better going forward."
In conclusion, Gaunt would like to offer his thanks to his team owner and team manager, as well as to all of the sponsors who supported the #12 Centennial Chrysler / AKN Sikkens / Vital Signs / Mobil1 / Unitec / Plumbtech/Moen Dodge Avenger in '07.
"I want to thank my team owner Mr. Gord Coates and team manger Mr. Howie Nichol of Centennial Chrysler for giving me this opportunity," said Gaunt. "They gave us first-rate equipment and supported the team all season. I also want to personally thank all of our sponsors who supported our racing program in 2007. We got a chance to meet most of them in person -- especially at the Barrie races -- and it was a pleasure to represent them on the NASCAR circuit. And last -- but not least -- I want to recognize the hard work and dedication of my entire team. It's not easy starting a team from scratch and learning so much in a short period of time, but my team worked as hard as they could all season."