With two-time and defending NASCAR Canadian Tire Series presented by Mobil 1 champion Andrew Ranger slated to spend the bulk of his season racing in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East in the U.S., the position of title favorite is wide open.
After winning six of 13 races in 2009, Ranger would have clearly been the odds-on favorite heading into the season. Now, it is up to someone else to step up and make a case.
On paper, Kennington is the logical choice. Two times—2007 and 2009—he finished as the runner-up to Ranger in points to go along with a third-place effort in Steckly’s championship season of 2008.
Not to be discounted is Steckly. He clearly knows the way having made it to Victory Lane seven times in three seasons including a pair of wins a season ago.
By the same token, the Fitzpatrick Motorsports teammates of Hamilton’s Don Thomson Jr., a five-time CASCAR national champion, and JR Fitzpatrick, also a former CASCAR titlist, cannot be ignored.
Perhaps relative newcomer Anthony Simone will continue his rapid improvement or series veterans like Ron Beauchamp Jr., Kerry Micks, Jason Hathaway or Mark Dilley will jump at the opportunity.
At any rate, the Delaware 200 winner will have the upper hand in the seemingly long, but short, in reality, 13-race series schedule.
The Race: This event is the first of 13 races in the 2010 season and kicks off the fourth season for the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series presented by Mobil 1. It is the series’ second visit to the track. It is the first season opener at the track. The 2007 and 2008 season got underway at Cayuga Motor Speedway while last season’s first event was held at Autodrome St. Eustache.
The Procedure: The starting field is 26 cars, including provisionals. The first 23 cars will be determined from two-lap time trials. The remaining three spots will be awarded through the provisional process. The race will be 200 laps (100 miles).
The Track: Delaware Speedway is a half-mile, paved stock-car track located just west of London, Ontario. For over 50 years, Delaware Speedway has been the home to some of the finest stock car racing in Canada. Its unique natural amphitheatre-like setting allows maximum enjoyment for the fans. The track has undergone extensive remodeling over the past two years under the ownership of Arlen Scherba.
The Records: The one-lap qualifying record for the Canadian Tire Series is 19.133 seconds (94.078 mph), set by Dilley on June 6, 2009. The 200-lap race record is held by Kennington at 2 hours, 11 minutes, 18 seconds set on the same date for an average speed of 50.495 mph. The race was extended to 221 laps to provide a green-flag finish.
Last Year: In the series’ first visit to Delaware Speedway, Kennington picked up the win at his home track. The elusive victory was his first touring series triumph at Delaware, dating back to his CASCAR days. And it was not easy to come by as he held off Thomson and Beauchamp. in three attempts at a green-white-checkered finish. Beauchamp placed second while Steckly finished in third place.
Also On Tap: In addition to the Canadian Tire Series event, the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series will be in full swing at Delaware Speedway. On Friday night, NASCAR Late Models and the Demar Aggregate Trucks will be in action. The Delaware Super Stocks will be on the track for a 50-lap feature just prior to the main event on Saturday evening.
Odds And Ends
Season Four: The NASCAR Canadian Tire Series presented by Mobil 1 is beginning its fourth season. With 38 races in the record books, the series is slated to run its 50th event later in the season at Riverside International Speedway in Antigonish, N.S. Ranger is the current leader in wins with nine with Steckly just behind with seven. The two former series champions have won an amazing 42 percent of the races.
Rule Book 101: Most of the race procedures for the Canadian Tire Series remain unchanged for the 2010 season, but there are a few notable exceptions.
Leader Chooses … While double-file restarts were a part of NASCAR’s touring divisions well before they were adopted in the top three series last year, there is one feature to the big three series’ restart rule that has trickled down to the touring level. The race leader, including the polesitter, now gets to choose, with one pace lap left, whether to restart on the inside or outside lane. Previously, the leader always started inside.
Changes To Late-Race Restarts … Speaking of double-file restarts, they’ll now be in effect throughout the entire race in 2010. Previously, restarts inside 10 laps to go were single-file. There was also no free pass car with a caution inside 10 laps to go previously, but in 2010 the beneficiary rule applies throughout the event.
Five Over the Wall … This season, series teams will be allowed five pit crew members in the car servicing area during pit stops. Teams were previously limited to four over the wall. Additionally, teams will continue only changing tires or adding fuel on a single stop. In other words, on a single caution, teams can stop once to change tires and come back around to add fuel, or vice versa.
New Looks: Several teams will sport new looks in 2010. Dilley now carries the colors of PartSource while Kerry Micks has added Dickies as a primary sponsor to his team. Both of these moves are direct results of the retirement of Dave Whitlock and the dissolution of Whitlock Motorsports. Jason Hathaway has added Rockstar Energy Drink to his stable of sponsors. John Gaunt has teamed with his brother, Marty, to form Gaunt Brothers Racing which will allow the No. 11 Dodge to enter every event in 2010. And Joey McColm is nearing a deal to participate in all 13 events.
Continuing On: Signing extensions over the winter were: Jason White with A&W, Grimsby’s Jeff Lapcevich with Tim Hortons and Beauchamp with Mopar.
Full Timers: A pair of drivers, Steve Mathews and Derek White, who both ran limited schedules in 2009, have announced that they will compete in all 13 NASCAR Canadian Tire Series events this season. White has entered a couple NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races this season. Joey McColm and Pete Shepherd III have a pieces of the puzzle to put together before they can officially commit to all the events.