St-Eustache: Round two preview

Autodrome St. Eustache Features Cummins Pro-Trucks Simone Looks for Quick Success Newcomer Simone Looks for Early Success Against Idols The view of idols is different when looking at them eye-to-eye. As a younger man, Anthony Simone (No. 95...

Autodrome St. Eustache Features Cummins Pro-Trucks
Simone Looks for Quick Success

Newcomer Simone Looks for Early Success Against Idols The view of idols is different when looking at them eye-to-eye. As a younger man, Anthony Simone (No. 95 Crown Modular Chevrolet) watched many of the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series veterans from afar and aspired to be like them. Now, at 28 years of age, it is time to not only be like them, but also to beat them.

"I've seen Don Thomson Jr., Peter Gibbons and Mark Dilley race dozens of times and thought of how cool it would be to have that kind of success," Simone said. "Now to be able to race against them is pretty awesome."

Last season, Simone, out of Holland Landing, Ont., had the opportunity to witness races at both Barrie Speedway and Kawartha Speedway which left him with the desire to get in on the action.

"I saw those two races in person and I said to myself, 'I've got to go do that.' The competition is so tight from top to bottom," he said.

Having spent the last two seasons racing late models at Flamboro Speedway, Simone also wanted to move from Saturday night racing and back into a professional series.

"The way this series is run is top notch and the way the drivers approach it is very professionally," he stated. "The whole thing is full of great programs from marketing to preparation to racing on the track."

Simone points to the success of defending series champion Andrew Ranger (No. 27 Wal-Mart/Tide Ford) as his blueprint. Ranger came into last season with little experience in Canadian Tire Series cars, but quickly adapted and played to his strength -- the road courses.

Prior to his stock car experience of the last two seasons, Simone, like Ranger, has a long open-wheel racing and karting history. He is a multi-time Ontario champion in the World Karting Association as well as the 2000 Skip Barber National champion. There are four road racing events on the Canadian Tire Series schedule in 2008. The result of those events can make or break a season. Ranger's great success in those events powered him to the title last season.

"Andrew really kind of dominated in those four races and my background is very similar to his -- very heavy on the road racing side of things," said Simone.

Simone does like the mix of tracks on the schedule.

"It's really a great combination of tracks in this series. There's the road courses, which vary from flat to hilly. The ovals, even though I have not raced on many of them, are great places to race," he said. "That Barrie race last year was crazy. It's all about survival there. I'm kind of looking forward to going there."

Aside from experience on both ovals and road courses, another variable is equipment. Worries are few in that area, too. The car was purchased from Don Thomson Jr. and is basically the car in which Thomson won five consecutive CASCAR Super Series titles.

"The car is a proven piece," said Simone. "Donnie won all those titles with this thing and the guy really knows how to take care of a car. I have no doubt that this car is fast."

Races are won and lost on pit road -- while cliche, it is true. Most Canadian Tire Series events require a pit stop and Simone's team has been practicing them one to two times per week since early in the year.

"As soon as we collected all the tools and equipment we needed; we started practicing. That is an area where we could make rookie mistakes and we need to try and avoid it."

All the pieces of the puzzle seem to be in place for Simone to make an immediate impact -- confidence, relevant experience and a solid car are all in place.

"Honestly, our goal is to run up front and finish inside the top 10 at the end of the year," Simone stated. "Obviously, if a lot of stuff starts breaking and our luck goes down the tubes, then I can't think of a reason we won't do that. I don't want to sound arrogant or anything, but that is how I feel."

Admittedly, Simone felt the butterflies just prior to driver introductions, but a calm, stoic facade is all that anyone saw.

"I always get them. Just anxious, I suppose," he said while grinning.

With one race in the books, Simone's fortune-telling skills proved quite keen. He qualified well; starting eighth on the grid. In the race, he shook the butterflies and finished 10th.

Kennington Needs a Change of Luck

The 2008 season got underway the same as the 2007 one ended for a pair of drivers, but on different ends of the spectrum. Scott Steckly (No. 22 Erb Group Dodge) won both races while D.J. Kennington (No. 17 Castrol/NPP Dodge) had both races end early after engine failures.

Kennington's team had brought a brand new car to Cayuga Motor Speedway. In fact, it had never been on a track. Everything on it was shiny and new.

After qualifying second, Kennington went out and led the first lap, thus earning the five bonus points. The new car was getting rave reviews.

"Everything went according to plan, we got us those points and settled into a comfortable race pace," said Kennington.

That comfortable pace quickly became a little more taxing after just 17 laps. The brand new car and motor experienced a problem.

"Every part in that car is brand new, it's just a failure and that happens sometimes," Kennington said. "We had a problem in this race last year but went on to finish a close second in the championship, so we're not deterred at all; this Castrol Dodge will be running back up front next week."

News & Notes

The Race: This event is the second of 13 races on the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series presented by Sirius Satellite Radio schedule. It is the first year the track is hosting the series.

The Procedure: The starting field is 26 cars, including provisionals. The first 23 cars will qualify through two-lap time trials. The remaining three spots will be awarded through the provisional process. The race will be 250 laps (100 miles).

The Track: The facility includes a .400-mile paved oval, a .125-mile drag strip and a 1.7km road course. The track was founded in 1965 as Fury Speedway de Fabreville, and the current configuration has been hosting various types of racing since 1970.

Post-Race Notebook: Crown Jewel 200 at Cayuga Speedway

Happy new year ... Kent Nuhn (No. 18 Interstate Batteries/The Fuel Genie Chevrolet) experienced every mechanical malfunction under the sun in 2007, but 2008 has brought a new sponsor in Interstate Batteries, a new car and a new beginning. Nuhn had a series career-best finish of ninth.

Haven't heard the last from them ... Fitzpatrick Motorsports teammates Don Thomson Jr. (No. 4 Home Hardware Chevrolet) and J.R. Fitzpatrick (No. 84 Fitzpatrick Motorsports Chevrolet) had a great start to the event. They qualified first and third, respectively. However, the good times ended there. After leading 44 laps early on, Thomson slid back in the pack for a 13th-place finish, while Fitzpatrick battled tire gremlins and finished 16th. Mobil 1 Command Performance of the Race Award ... As a reward for his NASCAR Canadian Tire Series victory at Cayuga, Scott Steckly (No. 22 Erb Group Dodge) collects $1,500 from Mobil 1 for his effort. It was his second career win. He also won last year's finale at Kawartha Speedway.

Mopar Fast Five ... This program awards the top five finishing Dodges in the race. In the Crown Jewel 200, Steckly was the top-finishing Dodge and thus earned a $2,000 bonus. Mark Dilley (No. 9 Dodge/Leland Industries Dodge) finished third overall and was the second-highest finishing Dodge, which earned him $1,250. Picking up $1,000 for finishing as the third-highest Dodge was Derek Lynch (No. 77 Allied Steel/Canadian Shield Dodge). Collecting $500 for placing fourth among the Dodge entrants was Dave Whitlock (No. 39 Dickies/NMT Dodge). Rounding out the top five Dodges was Brad Graham (No. 19 Full Throttle Dodge), which pays him $250.

POWERade Power Move ... Jason White (No. 21 Powder Ventures Chevrolet) improved his position the most in the event. After starting 19th, he equaled his series career-best finish of 8th. As a result, he earned a $1,000 award. Tow Truck in a Box Free Pass Award ... In a new program in 2008, the driver who receives a free pass during the event and has the highest finish earns $1,000. Lynch found himself a lap down in the early going, but rebounded to finish sixth for his fifth straight top-10 finish dating back to last season.

Autodrome St. Eustache Trucking Right Along

Autodrome St. Eustache continues, this year, as part of the NASCAR Home Tracks family.

Late last year, Canadian Motorsports Hall of Fame inductee Alan Labrosse purchased the track.

"I've done everything else you can do in motorsports during my career, so I thought it was time to own a racetrack," said the long-time racer, event promoter and manager.

In doing so, he continued the track's participation in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series.

In a bit of a twist from the usual late model program, the .4-mile track's top division is the Cummins Pro-Trucks which will be on display this Saturday prior to the Canadian Tire Series' National Kodak 250.

Last season's track and provincial champion, Guy Jubinville, finished 14th out of the thousands of participants in NASCAR's grassroots, local-racing program which encompasses tracks throughout the United States and Canada.

In 33 starts, Jubinville logged 15 wins, 27 top fives and 29 top 10s. Participation in the division ranges from 22 to 28 trucks.

New in 2008, under the new ownership, there is increased prize money and the track champion will get a 2009 start in a NASCAR Canadian Tire Series event. Also, many renovations have been completed with more to come.

***

Crown Jewel 200 Post-Race Notebook

The Race: National Kodak 250

The Place: Autodrome St. Eustache, St. Eustache, Quebec
The Date: Saturday, May 31

The Time: 8:35 p.m. ET
TV Schedule: Noon, June 15 (delayed)

Track Layout: .400-mile paved
Race Purse: $68,511 CAD

2007 Winner: Inaugural Event
2007 Pole: Inaugural Event

Schedule: Saturday: Practice 1 - 3 p.m., Time Trials 5:15 p.m.

-credit: nascar

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About this article
Series NASCAR Canada
Drivers Jason White , Peter Gibbons , Dave Whitlock , D.J. Kennington , Mark Dilley , Brad Graham , Don Thomson Jr. , Scott Steckly , Skip Barber , Andrew Ranger , Kent Nuhn , Derek Lynch , Anthony Simone