MECHANICAL TROUBLE KNOCKS CENTENNIAL CHRYSLER RACER JOHN GAUNT OUT OF SATURDAY'S NASCAR RACE IN MONTREAL BARRIE, ON -- On Saturday at Montreal's Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, John Gaunt was headed for another solid NASCAR Canadian Tire Series ...
MECHANICAL TROUBLE KNOCKS CENTENNIAL CHRYSLER RACER JOHN GAUNT OUT OF SATURDAY'S NASCAR RACE IN MONTREAL
BARRIE, ON -- On Saturday at Montreal's Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, John Gaunt was headed for another solid NASCAR Canadian Tire Series road course result when a power steering belt let go on his #12 Centennial Chrysler-sponsored Dodge Charger, snapping an oil line in the process and ending his race after a dozen laps. In the final results, the Barrie, ON racer was scored in 23rd-place. Following six of 12 rounds, Gaunt is 11th in the overall point standings.
"The race was going great," said Gaunt, driver of the #12 Centennial Chrysler / AKN Sikkens / Vital Signs / Mobil1 / Unitec Dodge Charger. "We had a nice start, but we got caught in a bit of a bottleneck and backed up a little bit. But we were able to move ahead and pass some cars on the track."
As with his previous road course outings this season, Gaunt viewed the Montreal race as a learning experience for he and the #12 team. "We made a lot of changes to the cars over the weekend and the guys kept on improving the car for me. I'm starting to learn more about what the car is doing on road courses and giving that information to the team so they can improve the car. The big thing we're doing now is freeing the car up. I think we're doing things to the car that aren't really conventional, but they're working for me. I'm on a huge learning curve and I'm finding that the most education I get is when we start to race [as opposed to practice]. I'm sorry we didn't run all the laps, but we learned some things here and we're moving ahead."
More than 30 teams took part in qualifying for Saturday's NASCAR Canadian Tire Series race in Montreal. Gaunt timed in 18th fastest, which left him encouraged for the race. "We qualified 18th which was progress for us on the road courses. I thought if we could run mid-pack, it would be pretty good. We're going against a lot of experienced guys but we're having fun and we're learning."
The veteran stock car driver was impressed with the Montreal facility and the fans who were on hand to see the first-ever NASCAR race weekend at the well-known Formula 1 track. "The track is smooth and a pleasure to race on. And the fans here are second to none," continued Gaunt. "Once I was out of the race, I actually watched the end on one of the big screens. The fans went wild for those last few laps."
Prior to heading to Montreal, Gaunt and the #12 Centennial Chrysler-sponsored Dodge Charger crew visited western Canada for a two-race swing. On July 15, Gaunt scored an eighth-place finish at Vernon, BC's Sun Valley Speedway, after starting 14th in the field of 23.
"You have to work harder on that track than any other track all year. You're turning and working the car the whole time from when you enter turn 3 and all the way around until the exit of turn 2 where you get a short break on the back straightaway."
Gaunt continued, "We finished eighth. The car was really good with between 100 and 50 laps to go, and we saved the car to be in shape for the end. But we lost our stagger with 50 laps to go and the car got too tight. We also had a bit of transmission trouble at the end with it sticking." The following week, in Edmonton, AB, the NCATS series was front and centre at the Grand Prix of Edmonton. In that race (on July 21), Gaunt started 26th and climbed to 19th in spite of there only being a handful of green flag laps.
"I had a good time there [Edmonton]. We got turned about midway through the race and there were a lot of cautions. I don't think we raced any more than seven laps under green, which makes it tough. We finished 19th which wasn't bad after starting 26th and having so few actual racing laps."
Looking ahead to the next race on the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series schedule, Gaunt and company will be in action this Saturday night (Aug. 11) for a 200-lap event at the half-mile Mosport Speedway. Gaunt is looking to rebound from his recent string of tough finishes as the #12 Centennial Dodge Charger embarks on the second half of the schedule.
"We just fell from seventh to 11th in the points, which is tough. But these things happen and you need to take it in stride. We're looking forward to racing on the oval this coming weekend and then it's on to the final road race, at Trois-Rivieres. And then we finish up with four oval races, which I'm looking forward to. The road racing is a lot of fun, but I love racing on the bullrings."