Camping World Truck Series test day at Canadian Motorsport Park

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I’ve been so busy over at Wheels.ca that I didn’t get around to posting this here. Of course I actually loaded the pics, I just didn’t get around to adding any words.

So, a couple of weeks ago, the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series folks and a gaggle of media types invaded the brand spanking new events centre at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park. Fresh off his boot to the nuts incident, Nelson Piquet Jr. was on hand as an “impartial” test driver to lay down some baselines for the teams when they arrive on Labour Day weekend.

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Have at it boys!

Few sports are as hotly contested as auto racing, which means that when things don’t go someone’s way, there is always a chance for fisticuffs to break out. Of course the roundy round racers have more of a history of “takin’ it outside” than most other series. The NASCAR circus kept true to that history yesterday when Jeff Gordon got into Clint Bowyer on the last lap of the 3 to last race of the season at Phoenix.

For those of you, who like me, didn’t get to see the race, I’ve got the action for you below.

What do you think: with the absence of the NHL, should the NASCAR boys keep fighting like hockey players?

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Ralph Gilles talks about Dodge’s decision to pull out of NASCAR

As many fans try to figure out why the Dodge brand has decided to pull out of NASCAR at the end of the season, Ralph Gilles sits down in front of the camera to explain the reasoning. Put short and sweet, they have not been able to put together a deal with a team like Penske that has a complete package. If a team has to rely on outside help, then it doesn’t make sense for Dodge to go racing with them!

Check out the video after the jump.
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Danica goes green for St Pattie’s Day

In case you live under a rock, today is St. Patrick’s day. Today is also Saturday, which means there is a NASCAR Nationwide Series race this afternoon. Combine the two and there will be a lot of green beer being consumed at Bristol. The marketing team at JR Motorsports decided to have a bit of fun with Danica Patrick‘s Go Daddy Chevy in honour of the day too.

The #7 Impala has been sprayed with the same metallic green as the 2010 Camaro, and adorned with shamrocks and a Happy St. Patrick’s Day message. Obviously, the team is hoping the luck of the Irish will rub off on their St Patrick.

We’ve got video and images of the car after the break.

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NASCAR – The Field is Set, The Fans Are Ready, The Drivers Are Looking to Win! 2012 Here We Go.

The Shootout is completed.  The Duels have been run.  The Field has been set.  Just a few more practice sessions, a Truck Series race and a Nationwide race, and we’re there.  3 Months of off season completed and the fans are ready to show their support for their drivers.  Big time names have been floating around all week about who is running fastest laps, who has looked goon in the duels, where the qualifiers sit.  Now all we need to do is race.

The Daytona 500 is the biggest race of the NASCAR season.  Some may ask, “Why would you put your Superbowl at the beginning of the season?”

I am glad you’ve asked.  NASCAR, unlike other sports, has 43 teams competing for a win, at the same time, every week.  Other sports may have an equal number of teams competing over the course of a week, but this is 43 teams competing in the SAME race on the SAME day, week in and week out.  The off season for NASCAR this year was 95 days.  (Nov 21 2011 – Feb 26 2010)  Having their biggest race of the season as their opener shows the dedication of the teams, and recognizes the work they have done, the advancements they have made, and the determination that they can win.  43 teams all have a shot to win it, and 43 teams put everything into making that happen.

Putting the events on for a full week before the first official race of the season adds even more to the excitement.  The Budweiser shootout is a no holds barred, winner take all, big check  and bragging rights race that reminds us all the the season is about to begin.  Following the shootout the drivers prepare to qualify the next day to test the speeds their car has at the ready and to determine who will start on the front row.  Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle, both from the Roush Racing stable, had the best qualifying times putting Ford out front to start the Great American Race.

The final factor deciding where the racers will begin their adventure from is the Gatorade Duel races.  2 races back to back, 60 laps each,  determining the starting position of the rest of the field.  First race is open to all of the drivers who qualified into an odd numbered position, and will place them in order of completion down the odd numbered side of the field to start the 500.  With Tony Stewart being the winner of the first race this places him behind the pole sitter on the odd numbered side of the grid in 3rd, followed by Dale Earnhardt Jr in 5th and so on down the line.  The second race is for the drivers who qualified into an even numbered position and their starting positions mirror the first race.  Matt Kenseth winning that one will start in 4th position behind his Teammate Greg Biffle in the second row, followed by Regan Smith in 6th and again, so on down the line.

This is the most confusing qualifying  method of the year, but it certainly brings a ton of attention and pageantry to the week leading up to the Daytona 500.  It draws additional television coverage, advertising dollars, and of course, the attention of the millions of devoted fans looking to see their drivers back on the track after the longest off season in NASCAR history.

36 races from here the Champion will be determined at Miami Homestead, the last race of the season, where Tony Stewart stood victorious in the closest points race in NASCAR history.  While it had ended in a tie, Tony Stewart won it for having more wins than Carl Edwards.  Carl Edwards is now seeking redemption and is looking to bring home his own Championship in 2012, but he has 42 other teams looking for the same result.  Dale Earnhardt Jr is looking for a win, any win, any where, to break his more than 3 season long drought to an end.

Dale Jr's #88 car during the 2011 season

After finishing second in his Duel race Jr had this to say about his results.

“I feel good about running second and for bringing the car home in one piece.  Hopefully we will get through the next couple of days without any troubles as far as we don’t want to bring out a back-up.We want to start the 500 in this car.”

“I just want to win – anywhere” said Dale Jr.  “I just want to go ahead and get that done so, I can think about the next one and get the streak over with and get back to victory lane.”

“We lost over a million dollars last year by not being in the Winners Circle Program.  The team could use that money.  There are just so many benefits to getting in the winners circle.  It’ll help our team, it will validate what me and Steve (LeTarte) have been trying to do the last couple of years.”

When asked if he would like to end his streak here in Daytona he said, “It’s the Daytona 500.  It’s the biggest race of the year.  It would be pretty spectacular for me personally to win it, but it would do so many other things that I can’t even list right now, for the team, for the company going forward.  It would be awesome.

Tony Stewart in victory lane at Loudon New Hampshire after winning his second race of the Chase

Tony Stewart has been to victory lane here 17 times, in every race except the one he wants, the Daytona 500.

“Obviously having won here 17 times and not on the right day is proof it’s no guarantee, obviously.  But it’s nice to win here, it gives you confidence going into Sunday” said Stewart after after winning his Duel race.

“I think we have shown the rest of the field that we have a car that has good speed.  I want those guys to see that we’ve got strength. I think it’s an advantage to do that at this point in the game.”

So get the beers chilling, and get the snacks ready race fans.  The wait is almost over, and our Superbowl is almost here.  Let us all be ready to cheer on the beginning of the 2012 season and to cheer our drivers on to the win.

A season of firsts for Jason White

October 20, 2011. Sun Peaks, British Columbia racer Jason White and the #21 A & W Dodge team had a season to remember in the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series. This year White forged a bold new partnership with Derek Lynch and the Kawartha Speedway Group and obtained powerful Dodge horsepower from DJK Racing and the results were all positive.

White made the changes to focus on his on track performance while allowing Lynch to lead the team as Crew Chief. And with the addition of more powerful motors White felt they would be a stronger team in 2011. “By defining roles and allowing me to concentrate on the driving I knew we’d be better and the results were there right away” said White.
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Tim Hortons renews Lapcevich marketing partnership for 2012

Team press release

December 7, 2011, GRIMSBY, ON – Jeff Lapcevich will compete in the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series again in 2012 with Tim Hortons branding on his familiar family-owned #23 Dodge.

The Grimsby veteran recently renewed one of Canada’s longest-running motorsports marketing partnerships, and his team is optimistic looking forward.

“Signing our deal with Tim Hortons this early in the off-season gives us great optimism,” said Lapcevich. “We have one of the best partners in all of racing, but until an agreement is in place you don’t want to get too excited.”

Lapcevich has raced his Fastline Motorsports entry in most of the NASCAR Canada’s races since the series began in 2007, and his children compete year-round in quarter midget sprint cars.

“We had a good season this year,” said Lapcevich. “The cars are competitive, and we made some great strides in 2011.”

In recent years Lapcevich has kept his NASCAR schedule relatively close to home choosing to not make the western swing. While the series visited British Columbia, Alberta, and Saskatoon, Lapcevich was focused on his children competing in the quarter midgets.

Cayden and Treyten Lapcevich have won numerous quarter midget titles across North America, and their schedules never end.

“We’re going to do a lot of racing next year,” said Lapcevich. “The boys started their indoor season recently in Ohio, and they’re off to a great start.”
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Jason White voted most popular driver

November 21, 2011. Sun Peaks, British Columbia racer Jason White has been one of the most well liked participants since arriving in the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series in 2008. There’s always a crowd looking for autographs from the #21 A & W Dodge driver during each race weekend. So it’s really not a huge surprise that Jason White to have been voted the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series Most Popular Driver for 2011.

All summer race fans were encouraged to vote for their favourite driver in the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series by logging onto the NASCAR Home Tracks website. Following the tabulation of the votes NASCAR informed the winners by tweeting congratulations to all of the Regional Series winners including Jason White, Most Popular Driver in the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series.

This recognition is very special for Jason White and his #21 A & W Dodge team. “This is such an honour for me” said White. “To have thousands of race fans take the time to cast their votes for me means a lot. Without all the race fans from coast to coast we wouldn’t be able to do this” added White.

This past year White went out of his way to get closer and more involved with the Canadian race fans. “I always try to spend as much time with people at the race track and sponsor appearances as I can” explained White. “We made a real concerted effort this season to keep them updated on everything happening with the #21 A & W Dodge team through social media as well and we got some very positive feedback that the fans appreciated that” he stated.
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NASCAR – Smoke Holds Off Edwards For the Race and Championship Win At Miami Homestead Putting Bookends on Johnson’s Reign

Tony Stewart celebrates his second win of the chase with his team in Loudon New Hampshire - Image courtesy of JDTImages

The last man to win a championship who was not named Jimmie Johnson was Tony Stewart.  Now Stewart is also the first man to win a Championship in NASCAR’s Sprint Cup series since Johnson’s reign of 5 consecutive championships.  Winning an amazing 5 out of 10 chase races and making every lap count, especially the last lap at Homestead Miami Speedway, Tony Stewart proved that he was the one to beat all along.  With the points ending in a tie between Edwards and Stewart, it was the wins that made a difference.  When NASCAR polled their fans to ask them what they wanted to see, the number one answer was for wins to make a bigger difference in the end result.  Well you can’t make wins any more important than they were yesterday.  If either Stewart or Edwards won the Ford 400, they would win the championship, regardless of what happened with the other guy.  Stewart won them both, while Edwards finished second in both the race, and the championship.

“We said all week, we just go out and win the race, we didn’t have to worry about what he did — and that’s what we did,” Stewart said in Victory Lane, as the skies opened up once again. “If this doesn’t go down as one of the greatest championship battles in history, I don’t know what will.”

Stewart had been relentless with his trash talk for the last 3 weeks, giving Edwards as much to think about as he could, but he was courteous in the end as he spoke about his competitor in Victory Lane.

“Great guy, and we’ve been giving him a rough time this week, but it was all in an effort to do what we did and that’s to win this championship,” Stewart said. “But it shows how classy a guy he is. He was the first one to me over there [to offer congratulations], and he just said, ‘Promise me one thing: You’ll enjoy this, and I hope you and I are in this position again next year.’

“So much class. A great guy.”

Even though Edwards had led the most laps and looked to have the dominant car all day, Stewart overcame his own on track troubles and took the lead with 37 to go, and never looked back.  Edwards, the ever gracious competitor, summed it up with his comments.

Carl Edwards during a Q&A session before the race in Loudon New Hampshire - Image courtesy of JDTImages

“They beat us fair and square,” said Carl.

“That was all I had at the end. My guys did a really good job. We led the most laps, and Tony still managed, him and (crew chief) Darian (Grubb), to do a good job with their strategy.

“That’s all I got at the end. That’s as hard as I can drive.”

“It was just so unbelievable, it’s like a movie,” allowed Edwards, whose runner-up finish was good enough to give NASCAR its first championship tie. . . . but not good enough to overcome the tiebreaker — Stewart’s five wins to Edwards’ one.

“I was very, very impressed with Tony,” Edwards said. “For all the talk and chest-pounding he did, I could see that he was nervous about this, too.”

“They had to perform at a very high level and I honestly thought there was a good chance they would make a mistake, of him overdriving, trying too hard. And they showed a lot of mental toughness to be able to watch us go lead the first half of the race essentially and not panic and not make mistakes.”

“This was a race, and it came down to strategy on the pit stops and restarts and everything it should come down to. I’m not going to lie, I was hoping he’d run out of fuel there at the end. But he didn’t. I’m sure that he’s going to enjoy this championship — and I’m hoping we’re going to be back in this position again next year. I learned a ton.”

“I told my wife, if I can’t win this thing I’ll be the best loser.”

“It was fun. I plan on winning about the next 10 of these. That’s how I feel right now. I’d like to start right now again and do it every day for as long as I live. That’s how much fun it was.”

“I just wanted to make sure that Bob knew that I believe he’s the best crew chief here, and that he will be my crew chief for as long as he wants to be, and that I’m behind him and his decision 100 percent,” Edwards said.

Stewart became the first Owner/Driver to win a championship since Alan Kulwicki did it back in 1992 and joins a very short and elite list, with the only other name on it being Richard Petty.

Struggling through on track issues early in the race, the Stewart-Haas team put their Office Deport Chevy back together and overcame having the front

Tony Stewart during Driver intros at Loudon New Hampshire - Image courtesy of JDTImages

end punched in through the rad, numerous pit road issues, some bad pit stops, and in the end made a fuel mileage gamble that put Stewart in a great position on the final restart of the race.

“One thing I learned about this team is that everybody dug deep and never gave up,” Stewart said. “I’ve got the best team in the business. We said all week we had to go out and win the race; it didn’t matter what he [Edwards] did. After the way those first 109 laps went today, I told my guys it was going to make these guys mad when we come back twice and still kick their butt.”

“Man, I feel like I passed half the state of Florida today — 118 cars is a lot of cars to pass in one race and to do it under the circumstances and pressure we had today, I’m very proud of that,” said Stewart.

“I would have to say this is one of the greatest races of my life.”

A few other back stories that seemed to get lost in the Championship battle were the moving of Kasey Kahne to Hendrick Motorsports, the drastic improvement of Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s performance under the tutiledge of Steve Letarte, and the fact that Darian Grubb, Tony Stewart’s crew chief, has no idea where his future lies.

Darian Grubb announced in the media center just before Stewart himself arrived for Q&A, that 10 weeks ago before the race at Chicagoland, he had been told that after the season they would be discussing the direction the team would be taking, and that he may not be included in that direction.  Despite knowing for the past 10 weeks that he may be out of a job, Grubb performed at the top of his game and  gave Stewart everything he needed to win 5 out of the last 10 races, and put the team in championship form.

Kasey Kahne pulled of his first win in a RedBull car with only 2 races left with that team.  Kasey will be moving to Hendrick Motorsports and driving the #5 car replacing out going driver Mark Martin.  Kahne will be sharing a garage with Jeff Gordon and will have the all powerful Hendrick equipment under him as he starts the 2012 season.  Other rumors in the garage around Hendrick is that Chad Knaus and Jimmie Johnson may be splitting up.  Although only rumor and conjecture at this point, Rick Hendrick did make a ton of significant changes at the end of the 2010 season, which resulted in varying performance improvements in his drivers through out the 2011 season.

The most obvious of those improvements was the performance of Dale Earnhardt Jr. finally making the chase after missing it twice in the seasons before.Jr. looked to b4e a much more confident driver through out 2011, more the man his fans remembered before the tragic loss of Earnhardt Sr. 10 years ago.  With Steve LeTarte being the biggest cheer leader in Jr.’s corner, Jr. looked to be gaining in confidence all season long and although they stumbled early in the chase and fell back to 9th in the standings, he rallied with his team behind him to finish 7th over all, his best placing since coming to drive for Hendrick.  Fans are hoping for more improvements in the seasons to come, especially the breaking of his winless streak sometime in the 2012 season.

Non Stop Action For DJ Kennington At Phoenix

This past weekend former NASCAR Canadian Tire Series Champion DJ Kennington competed in both the NASCAR Nationwide and the K & N Pro Series West events at Phoenix International Raceway. Kennington piloted the #80 MacDonald Motorsport entry in the Nationwide series, and the #81 car from Bill McAnally Racing in the K & N event. Both cars featured sponsorship backing from Northern Provincial Pipelines, Whitemud Mechanical, Clark Construction and Mahindra Tractors. It was a long and hectic weekend of activity, but also a successful venture for everyone involved.

The first on track activity on the newly reconfigured and resurfaced track was Thursday afternoon with Nationwide Series practice. Friday was a full day of practice laps beginning with the K & N Pro Series. “I like racing at Phoenix and the Thursday session gave us some time to feel out the new track” said Kennington. “Friday we worked on set up for both cars to make them faster on the new track” he added.
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