Cayuga Speedway kicks off NASCAR series on Saturday

Start your engines.

This Saturday (May 26) Cayuga Speedway Park kicks off the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series with the Dodge Dealers 200.

This is the first in a series of races that will be run across Canada. The 12-race schedule will see teams visit 10 sites to compete on road, street and oval tracks from Vernon, B.C. to Antigonish, N.S. At stake is the national championship for late model stock cars.

Four events are on the demanding road and street courses of Mosport International Raceway, the temporary street course at the Grand Prix de Trois Rivieres, Montreal’s Circuit Gilles Villeneuve as part of the NASCAR Busch Series weekend, and the fast but flat City Centre Airport in Edmonton site of the Edmonton Grand Prix (CHAMP Car) Weekend.

In addition to this weekend’s race at Cayuga (which will also hold a Labour Day weekend event), Barrie Speedway (twice), Mosport Speedway, Sun Valley Speedway, (Vernon), Riverside Speedway (Antigonish.) and Kawartha Speedway (Peterborough) will host NASCAR Canadian Tire Series events this racing season.

Hamilton’s Don Thompson Jr. and Brantford’s Doug Brown plan to make the 30-car field expected for Saturday’s race. In the event of rain, Sunday will be race day.

The race is the highlight of a weekend that will include a concert on Saturday evening. The track is located on Haldimand Road 20 in Hagersville. The schedule of activities includes:

Today (Friday, May 25)
Noon, camping gate opens.

7 a.m., registration opens.
8:15 a.m., draw for qualifying order.
8:30 11:30 a.m., NCATS technical inspection, cars in line by qualifying order.
11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., NCATS practice session number one.
12:30 p.m. to 1 p.m., Pro Cup Lites practice session.
1 p.m. to 2 p.m., NCATS practice session number two.
2:30 p.m., Pro Cup Lites Heat Race #1.
3:30 p.m., Pro Cup Lites Heat Race #2.
4:15 p.m. to 5 p.m., NCATS time trials.
5 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., Pro Cup Lites Feature Race.
6 p.m. to 7 p.m. NCATS driver autograph session.
7:15 p.m., opening ceremonies.
8 p.m., Dodge Dealers 200 featuring the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series.
10 p.m. to midnight, live music in the pavillion: Think Freud, Canada’s Ultimate Pink Floyd Tribute.

THE TRACK: Cayuga’s 5/8-mile oval will kickoff the Canadian Tire Series but it is not the first time the track has attracted top NASCAR talent. In its over 40 years, Bobby and Davey Allison, Dale Earnhardt, Bill Elliott, Matt Kenseth, Mark Martin, Tony Stewart, Rusty Wallace and Darrell Waltrip among others have competed there in various events.

NASCAR IN CANADA HISTORY 101: While the Dodge Dealers 200 is the first race for the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series, it is not the first NASCAR-sanctioned event in Canada. In fact, NASCAR’s premier series, known today as the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series, has held two events in Canada. The first was July 1, 1952 in Stamford Park in Niagara Falls which was won by Buddy Shuman in a Hudson Hornet. The second was held on July 18, 1958 at the Canadian National Exposition Speedway in Toronto. Lee Petty won the event. Making his NASCAR debut at this race was a young man by the name of Richard Petty.

NASCAR HISTORY IN CANADA: Over the years, several Canadians have participated in NASCAR events. Earl Ross won the 1974 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Rookie of the Year. Roy Smith won four NASCAR Grand National Division, West Series championships. Montreal’s Dick Foley competed in the first Daytona 500. Pete Harding won the 1999 title in the NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Northwest Series.

WHERE THE RUBBER MEETS THE ROAD: Many of the entrants in the Dodge Dealers 200 are former CASCAR Super Series competitors and have raced numerous times at Cayuga Speedway Park, but this time it will be a little different. Perhaps the biggest change to the cars this year is the move to a wider Goodyear tire. Several teams tested the new tires at Cayuga two week ago and learned their race set-ups would not be as different as originally believed. “We came in here with some assumptions on how to prepare the car, but we pretty much ended up with the set-up that we ran here before,” said veteran driver Dave Whitlock (No. 39 Dickies Ford).