TORONTO, ON - This weekend, the Castrol Super Series takes to the streets of Toronto for its third consecutive appearance at the Molson Indy Toronto. The second road course event of the season for the CASCAR late model drivers and teams will be ...
TORONTO, ON - This weekend, the Castrol Super Series takes to the streets of Toronto for its third consecutive appearance at the Molson Indy Toronto. The second road course event of the season for the CASCAR late model drivers and teams will be contested on the temporary street circuit on the city's lakeshore.
Limited track time is a prime consideration on the minds of the majority of the Castrol Super Series drivers. In addition to Sunday's CART series race, there will be several other open-wheel divisions in action at the 11-turn Exhibition Place track. Prior to the start of the Castrol Super Series race on Saturday afternoon at 5 p.m., the CASCAR drivers will be limited to a half hour practice session on Friday afternoon (5:30 - 6:00 p.m.) during which to prepare for their Saturday morning qualifying session (8:00 - 8:30 a.m.). The rest of Saturday will be spent making final adjustments - in the garage - to get ready for the green flag at 5 p.m.
Given the increased number of road races on the CASCAR schedules in recent years, almost all of the competitors are more than capable on road courses. But the tight-confines of the walled Toronto street circuit presents unique challenges, and experience on a temporary course is a definite asset. Robin Buck and Kevin Dowler - the winners of the '99 and '00 Molson Indy Toronto Castrol Super Series races - both have extensive experience when it comes to road racing and competing at venues like the Exhibition Place track.
Dowler recognizes that his CASCAR rivals have developed their road racing talents in recent years. "The level of competition on the road courses just keeps going up and up. A lot of people have been doing their homework over the winter." Getting back to the issue of the limited track time available prior to race-time on Saturday afternoon, Dowler said, "It's all a matter of preparing the car. You have no track time. What is going to make the difference this year is having everything in working condition when you arrive at the track. You can't get there having to fix things and even have a shot at winning the event. Last year, we had a wet practice, which was worthless."
Asked about the importance of racing and winning in Toronto, the Sherwood Park, AB racer replied, "I'm excited about going back to the Toronto Indy; it's a great event. It's more of an event than anything at this point. I think CASCAR brings a lot to the show. My win last year didn't set in until about 12:30 the next day when I was riding around with the IndyCar drivers and the race winners from the previous day. It was just so fast."
In terms of race strategy, Dowler believes that it will be crucial to keep his Quality Care Ford Taurus in good shape for the final laps. "You have to save the brakes. Last year, we didn't even use the brakes a whole bunch. Going down Lakeshore [Blvd.], I was just using the motor to slow the car down. If you have to use the brakes near the end of the race, you've gotta have something left. That's just sheer track time from when I was running the Player's/GM series. Everyone used to finish without brake rotors, so that's a matter of experience. If we can stay focussed on what we're there to do and not get caught up in all the other distractions, we'll be OK."
Considering the drivers who will pose the greatest threat to his plans for a repeat win in Toronto, Dowler said, "There are 12 cars. You can just look at the numbers and go up the list. The #1 [Peter Gibbons], the #02 [Kerry Micks], the #2 from out west [Carl Harr, of Edmonton], the #4 [Don Thomson Jr.]- just go all the way up the list. Everybody who runs in Toronto - who has previous Molson Indy experience - is a serious threat. Both the Lapceviches [Jim and Jeff], Al Turner, Pete Vanderwyst- the list goes on and on. And Robin Buck is always a threat when the cars are going left and right." Add to that list Castrol Intrepid driver DJ Kennington, who won the recent road course event at Mosport Int'l Raceway.
Two summers ago, Robin Buck won the inaugural Castrol Super Series race at the Molson Indy Toronto. But last year, the Oakville, ON racer lost power just moments after taking the checkered flag. This season, Buck has focussed his entire racing program on the four road course events on the Super Series schedule.
"We're looking forward to going back and trying to redeem ourselves after the performance we put on last year," said the UAP/NAPA Pontiac driver. "The car had some serious problems and we were lucky to even take the green flag. After winning the year before, you couldn't have picked a more devastating way to go out of the race than that. It was our worst nightmare come true." In the hours before this year's Indy event, Buck believes he can be in contention for another win, come Saturday afternoon.
"We've done some testing and feel we can be there. I would think the same guys who were competitive last year, will be there again. Kevin Dowler and Al Turner are strong there. Peter Gibbons and Jim Lapcevich have shown strength there, too. Depending on how well these guys are prepared for the weekend, there are many drivers who are a threat at the Indy."
MOLSON INDY TORONTO CASTROL SUPER SERIES SCHEDULE: <pre>
Friday, July 13 5:30 - 6:00 p.m. Castrol Super Series Practice Saturday, July 14 8:00 - 8:30 a.m. Castrol Super Series Qualifying 5:00 - 6:00 p.m. Castrol Super Series Race