VANCOUVER, BC - The Castrol Super Series made its inaugural appearance at the Vancouver Molson Indy this past weekend. The race capped off the annual two-race western swing for the touring stock car series. In the 29 lap timed race, Pete ...
VANCOUVER, BC - The Castrol Super Series made its inaugural appearance at the Vancouver Molson Indy this past weekend. The race capped off the annual two-race western swing for the touring stock car series. In the 29 lap timed race, Pete Vanderwyst's EXIDE Batteries / National Fast Freight Pontiac Grand Prix started 21st, climbed to as high as 11th, yet finished 15th. But that synopsis doesn't tell half the story of the team's adventures at the Concord Pacific Place temporary street circuit.
During the first practice session, on Friday morning, Vanderwyst lost traction while getting a feel for the track and ended up clipping a tire barrier and slamming hard into a cement barrier with the car's left-front body panel. The incident left the EXIDE Pontiac with considerable damage and only a few hours available to effect repairs prior to Friday's afternoon qualifying session.
"It started off tough in practice," said Vanderwyst, after the 11th race of the season. "We started to get a groove going, and then we lost the transmission. The guys changed the transmission and we were able to get back on track for the last 10 minutes. Going into turn 9, I went in a little too hot and ended up taking it into the wall. The front-left part of the car was taken off. We made it back to the pits and had some major work to do on the front end. We went through it and had to replace the upper and lower ball joints on the left side."
According to the St. Thomas, ON racer, there was no time to do all of the work they needed to do, before the Friday session. "The qualifying session was later that afternoon [Friday]. The plan was to get the car back on the track, but we knew it would take into Friday night - after the qualifying session - to get it totally right. Our Friday time put us 21st on the grid, which was our worst qualifying effort ever on a road course. The guys did an amazing job on Friday night getting it back together."
The EXIDE / Nat'l Fast Freight team's plan hit a snag, however, when Saturday morning started out damp. Although the Super Series teams were greeted by good weather through most of the Vancouver Indy weekend, rain on Saturday morning prevented Vanderwyst from improving on his Friday time.
"We were hoping that we could better our time in Saturday's final qualifying session, but it was raining in the morning and we weren't prepared to go out in the rain and take the chance of getting into the tires or cement again. Especially when there was very little chance that we could improve on our time from the first session. This was a very tight track and there was very little opportunity to pass, unless you've got tons of horsepower that can get you around someone on the long straights. There were some other drivers in that situation, but since we'd broken our main motor in Calgary, we were left with a less powerful piece."
Vanderwyst said their race plan was going as scripted, when they were involved in an incident, not of Pete's making. "The plan was to try and make the top 10 and finish the weekend up on a good note and keep the car in one piece. We were up to about 11th and while we were passing Robbie Thompson, Trevor Seibert decided to make it three-wide through a turn and ended up spinning-out Robbie and I. That knocked us back to about 22nd. Through attrition, we recovered to 15th.
"We would have liked to have made more progress in the points chase, which didn't happen. But it was a great experience to come out here. I found the track to be an intimidating race track. It's a tough, tight track. I congratulate the guys who were able to master it. For next year, if we come back, we'll have a better program. But all in all, it was a good weekend. Vancouver's a beautiful city and my family came out. There were also a bunch of EXIDE people out here, too."
Following Vancouver, Vanderwyst is looking forward to the Super Series season finale, Sept. 28-30 at Delaware Speedway. "The plan is to get our main motor back for Delaware at the end of the month. We'd like to do what we did there last year, which was to win our 100 lapper, qualify in the top five, and finish on the podium again. We'd really enjoy ending the season off on a good note. We've had some tough luck this season, so it would be good to finish with a good run," concluded Vanderwyst, who sits ninth in the points.