Van Es and crew pass on Barrie to prep for Eastern Canada race

On Labour Day, the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series made its second of two visits this season to Cayuga Speedway Park. For the initial stop last May, Stoney Creek’s Ron Van Es, after starting on the outside of the front row, found himself leading briefly during the NASCAR season opener at Cayuga. That left him optimistic about the prospect of returning to the 5/8-mile speedway south of Hamilton last weekend.

Ron Van Es shakes hands with NASCAR racing legend Bobby Allison during the pre-race introductions for last weekend’s NASCAR Canadian Tire Series race at Cayuga Speedway Park. (Photo: Dave Franks)

And for a while, it appeared that things might go well for the #11 Chevy driver, who started eighth in the field of 23 and was biding his time until he was caught up in a major wreck just seven laps into Saturday night’s Subway 200. The crash destroyed his radiator, causing his engine to overheat. And although Van Es attempted to return to the track after his team replaced the radiator, the damage was too severe and he was tagged with a 21st-place finish.

From Van Es’ perspective, there was nothing he could do to avoid the crash that took out several of the top competitors.

“From the driver’s seat, it was unavoidable,” said Van Es, who races with associate sponsorship from Marshall Truck and Trailer Repair, Ingersoll Rand and G.P.I.C.S. Truck and Trailer Parts.

“I’m looking forward to seeing the replay to see what actually happened. I just saw some sparks down low. The spotter said ‘it’s all around you.’ So there wasn’t really anywhere for me to go. All I could do was get on the brakes hard and go up high. I hit Doug [Brown] and he got into J.R. [Fitzpatrick] and it was just massive damage all around.
“It wasn’t anything we could recover from because our radiator was damaged. We changed the rad, but the problem at that point was the motor was so hot that we couldn’t get it cooled down. There was water in the oil, which means it’s probably hurt pretty bad as far as the head gasket and some other things.”

Prior to the crash that cut short his race at Cayuga, Van Es and his team were making progress after coming to the track with a setup that didn’t work as well as they’d hoped.

“We struggled with the car at first. We were trying some new stuff, but it wasn’t working. So just before qualifying, we switched back to what had worked for us in the spring. When I went out for time trials, I was a little timid and probably left a 10th [of a second] out there. But starting eighth wasn’t too bad; it’s good to be in the top 10. From the start, we fell into a good spot and we were hoping for a long green-flag run, but that didn’t happen. It was a hard hit, but mostly just body damage on the car.”

The NASCAR Canadian Tire Series resumes tonight (Saturday) at Barrie Speedway, but the #11 team will sit out the event, choosing to focus on the inaugural NASCAR race at Riverside Speedway in Antigonish, Nova Scotia, next weekend.

“We’re going to skip the Barrie race this coming weekend and we’re getting ready to go down east for the Sept. 15 race at Riverside Speedway. There’s one guy on the crew who has a lot of family down there. We’ve heard nothing but great things about the track so we’re concentrating on that race. And luckily, we still have one more Gibbons Motorsports motor available for the rest of the year, so we should be good.”