Van Es to pass on NASCAR western swing, prepares for Montreal

Stoney Creek driver Ron Van Es and his Van Es Racing crew will sit out the next two NASCAR Canadian Tire Series events.

Van Es said budget challenges mean his #11 Chevy won’t make the trip to Vernon, B.C. and Edmonton, AB. Instead, he and his crew will prepare for the second half of the schedule, beginning with the NASCAR Busch Series weekend in Montreal in early August. That will give the racing team time to work on their Chevy which struggled through last weekend’s race at Barrie but still managed an 11th place finish.

Barrie Speedway is widely considered one of the toughest short tracks on the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series schedule and after the MOPAR 300 at the high-banked Central Ontario track, Van Es can confirm the track’s reputation.

Van Es qualified eighth-fastest in the field of 20 for the 300-lap race around the challenging 1/3-mile tri-oval, but was involved in an incident prior to lap 100 which adversely affected the handling of his car for the rest of the event.

Determined to soldier on, Van Es battled to the finish for his 11th-place result.

“It was a really, really tough night,” said Van Es. “But through adversity, we turned nothing into something. My team never gave up. I never gave up. And I drove my backside off for them.”

In a predictably physical race at the Barrie bullring, Van Es – like most others – was involved in his fair share of contact. Unfortunately for the Stoney Creek racer, the lap 89 incident he was caught up in rendered his car virtually undriveable.

“We got mixed up in an accident early and that messed up the handling of the car. After that, it drove like a dump truck. The ‘toe’ was knocked out and I couldn’t even turn the wheel to the right, which you need to do to warm up the tires and clean them off before restarts.

“We stuck it out and came home 11th. That’s mostly thanks to a lot of attrition, but we never got lapped on the racetrack and never needed to use the ‘lucky dog’ rule to get back on the lead lap. There were a lot of slower cars who got their laps back thanks to all the cautions, so by the end of the race, almost everyone was back on the lead lap which meant you really had to race hard to pick up some spots.”

The Sunday race provided a mix of highs and lows for the #11 team as they overcame mechanical issues with their car in the lead-up to a solid qualifying performance.

“We missed the first hour of practice to an issue with the car,” continued Van Es. “We got it fixed for the second practice and improved our times, but it really hurt to miss the whole first hour. Alex Nagy [the team’s crew chief] made some great adjustments to the car for qualifying and it made a huge difference. I think there was actually more speed there, but I didn’t know what I had. It was nice to start eighth and that definitely helped our night.”

DJ Kennington won Sunday’s MOPAR 300. At the end of 300 laps, he came home just over a second in front of Barrie racer Mark Dilley. Five-time CASCAR National champion and former Hamilton resident Don Thomson Jr. rounded out the podium finishers.