2008 NASCAR Canadian Tire Series builds on success

The first year of the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series exceeded every expectation. Now, it is time to build on that success and grow the series while establishing a solid foundation for the future.

Defending champion Andrew Ranger does not have the element of surprise on his side as he did a year ago. He will look to maintain his mastery of the road course tracks where he finished first or second in all four last season. His performance on the ovals was solid as well, but he aims at a victory in 2008.

Expect to see Don Thomson Jr. challenging Ranger every step of the way. Thomson was none too happy with his performance in 2007, despite finishing fourth in the point standings.

The Canadian Tire Series, once again, finds its strong suit is experience. Several veteran drivers return with realistic
championship goals. The likes of Mark Dilley, Peter Gibbons and Ron Beauchamp Jr. exhibited their potential at varying times in 2007, but were not able to capture the consistency needed for a championship.

The schedule is very similar to last season’s. A notable addition is a trip to Autodrome St-Eustache in Quebec for the summer’s second event. The western swing ends on July 26 in Edmonton and teams will have to travel eastward across the country for an Aug. 2 date at Montreal’s Circuit Gilles Villeneuve alongside the NASCAR Nationwide Series.

The series also will see some non-Ontario teams increase their participation this season. Jason White, racing out of Sun Peaks, B.C., plans to make as many races as possible. Alberta’s Todd Nichol is looking to compete in some eastern events as well. Donald Chisholm, from the maritime province of Nova Scotia, is stepping up his program after a successful debut last season.

What to Watch for in 2008

A Man Possessed – Five-time CASCAR Super Series champion Don Thomson Jr. had a disappointing season in 2007, at least in his mind. He finished fourth in the final point standings and that was not at all to his liking. Just minutes following the final race of 2007, the tireless veteran all but guaranteed a better performance in 2008.

Road Course Dominance – Defending series champ Andrew Ranger finished first or second in all four road course events a year ago and was in position to win all four. His three second-place finishes were the result of last-lap passes. Can that same success be duplicated in 2008?

Carrying the Momentum – Derek Lynch finished the 2007 season as strong or stronger than any other driver. He closed out the season with four consecutive top 10s, three of which were top-five efforts, including his Sept. 1 win at Cayuga.

The Long Haul – The two western Canada races will be held on July 19 and 26 in Vernon, B.C., and Edmonton, respectively. Just one week after the Edmonton date, the series has a date at Montreal’s Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, alongside the NASCAR Nationwide Series, nearly 3,800 kilometers away.

A Wider Scope – Last year, the core competitors were virtually all Ontario-based teams. In 2008, look for a larger footprint with the western teams of Jason White and Todd Nichol increasing their participation and also, Donald Chisholm, who had a solid debut at his home track last season. The Antigonish, Nova Scotia-based driver also has plans to enter more events this season.

For the second consecutive season, TSN, Canada’s Sports Leader, will be the exclusive broadcast partner of the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series presented by Sirius Satellite Radio.

TSN will nationally televise 13 one-hour broadcasts – one for each of the series’ 13 races.

Coverage gets underway on May 30 at midnight ET with the Crown Jewel 200, the first race of the season, taking place on the speedy .625-mile oval at Cayuga International Speedway.