Van Es looking ahead to next season’s NASCAR Canadian series

Stoney Creek’s Ron Van Es concluded his 2007 NASCAR Canadian Tire Series season with a 16th-place finish at Peterborough’s Kawartha Speedway last Sunday (Sept. 23).

The driver of the #11 Tailgate Head Quarters Chevy qualified seventh fastest in the field of 25 for the 12th and final event of the Canadian NASCAR season, but was caught up in an early-race accident while the cars were braking hard for another, unrelated incident.

“Our qualifying was really good; we had a great car,” said Van Es. “We were seventh-fastest but I wish I could have brought it home a little bit better than we ended up. I had an awesome car during the race – probably the best car I’ve ever driven – and I have to thank my crew chief Alex Nagy for (that).

“During the first caution, we were hit and spun around, which was unfortunate, but that’s what happens when you’re slowing down for a caution. It was just disappointing to get caught up in something like that. I was actually hoping that we’d get our spot back, but that didn’t happen. Our race kind of went downhill from there because we lost a lap, which makes it tough.”

“I have to thank Tailgate Head Quarters out of Burlington for coming on board (for the Kawartha race). I’d also like to recognize all of the associate sponsors who helped us out this season. We’re still looking for some help for next year because having a financial partner is critical in this series. We missed three races this season due to budget considerations, but our goal was to show as well as we could at the events we did attend, and we feel we did that.”

Van Es was impressed with the inaugural season of the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series, and believes Canada’s national stock car tour is on the rise.

“Everywhere we raced this season, we performed in front of crowds that were several times larger than in past years. And having every race broadcast on TSN boosted the exposure of the series even more. When it was announced last fall that NASCAR was coming to Canada, we hoped that it would raise the profile of our sport, and that’s exactly what has happened. I think the series is definitely going the right way.”

The NASCAR Canadian Tire Series came to a successful conclusion at Kawartha Speedway where the high-banked oval near Peterborough attracted 25 of Canada’s top stock car racers for the Dodge Charger 250.

Veteran racer Scott Steckly (Milverton, ON) earned his first checkered flag of the season by holding off Peter Gibbons (Stouffville, ON) and Ron Beauchamp Jr. (Windsor, ON) at the finish line.

Rookie stock car racer Andrew Ranger became Canada’s first NASCAR champion when he crossed the line in sixth place to secure the driver’s points title in style. Prior to the start of the 2007 season, the Quebec driver ended his Champ Car career and turned his attention to stock car racing. Ranger expects to be back to defend his championship in 2008.