J. WALLY NESBITT Special to The Standard
On May 3rd, nearly a dozen teams from the NASCAR Pinty’s Series ranks converged on Canadian Tire Motorsports Park, for a day of: technical inspection, scrutineering and some on-track shake down laps, all in preparation of the season opening Can Am 200 run, over the Castrol Presents the Victoria Day SpeedFest weekend.
The opening round, of the 13 date schedule, will headline the Victoria Day weekend schedule, supported by the Pirelli World Challenge series; plus two races each for the Canadian Touring Car Championship, the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada and the Nissan Micra Cup series.
On Wednesday’s test day, former series champions LP Dumoulin and DJ Kennington were in attendance, although Kennington had to cut his day short in order to make his flight to Talladega, where he will be competing in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup race.
“I did about eight laps. It [the car] felt the same as it did last year, so we’re all good,” laughed Kennington.
Noticeably absent were defending series champion Cayden Lapcevich and two-time champion Andrew Ranger, although both are expected to be on the grid when the green flag flies on May 21st, for the season opener.
For 2017, Alex Tagliani will focus his attention on pursuing his first Pinty’s Series title. Despite his three race victories last year, ‘Tag’ missed the opening round to participate in the Indy 500; that lost race relegating him to third place in the final standings.
“I’ve got a new partner this year [Lowes Building Centres], so results are very important for me. I am hoping to still run in other racing series, but not if it conflicts with a Pinty’s race,” noted Tagliani.
Unfortunately, in the track debut of the brand-new No. 18 Lowes/ EpiPen Dodge, what was described as a ‘powertrain failure’ caused Tagliani to lose control of his car as it entered the turn five hairpin, the impact into the tire wall caused extensive damage to the front end of the car.
“Nothing that can’t be fixed,” remarked car owner Scott Steckly. “But it’s going to mean some long hours in the shop to have it ready for the first race.”
Also in attendance for the test day was Uxbridge racer Jason Hathaway.
Despite his announcement that he was stepping away from the NASCAR tour on a full-time basis, Hathaway noted, he will take part in a trio of races.
“We’re going to do the two Mosport (CTMP) races this year, it’s close to home and we’ve always done pretty well here. We sold our oval track car over the winter, so we’ve put together an arrangement with DJ Kennington to run one of his cars at Delaware.”
In a late-breaking announcement, it was revealed that the Team 3 Red/ Ed Hakonson Chevrolet will have Kubota join Choko Authentics, Fast Eddie Racewear and DSI are sponsors for the three Pinty’s Series races.
While downsizing his NASCAR involvement, Hathaway will remain busy (“but not hectic”), by running four races on the APC United Late Model Series tour, plus two Maritime Pro Stock Series races on Nova Scotia’s Riverside International Speedway.
For Durham Region fans preparing their upcoming racing itinerary, competition begins this weekend, May 13th/ 14th, at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park; with the BEMC Spring Trophy Races, followed one week later by the SpeedFest Victoria Day weekend.
Oval tack fans have several options open to them, as Stroud, ON’s Sunset Speedway is already in action, while the bullring of Peterborough Speedway will open in May 20th, welcoming their fans back with opening night, free grandstand admission.
Should weather conditions eventually improve, the 1/3-mile clay oval of Brighton Speedway has already christened their 50th anniversary season, with weekly racing continuing until late September.
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