Monday, May 19, 2008

NASCAR, the Canadian way starts this Saturday!

Following a trend that has gripped NASCAR's premier division of Sprint Cup, Andrew Ranger made the most of the slim pickings left in North American open wheeling. In his only full season in full-bodied car racing, he had become an intimidating presence as a road course expert as well as a fearless oval racer. Entering as the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series' reigning champion, the 21 year old French-Canadian is also part of another movement which may soon strengthen our presence in the top tier touring divisions of stock racing down south. Previous year's champion JR Fitzpatrick, a second generation to father John Fitzpatrick, returns in the Milwaukee Electric Tools Chevrolet. At the age of 20, JR Fitzpatrick won twice last season and appears prepared to take back the championship trophy. If not, JR Fitzpatrick's teammate 5-time champ Don Thomson Jr and his #4 Home Hardware Chevrolet may also be within striking distance of another memorable season.

While Patrick Carpentier is currently striding for improvement in this NASCAR Sprint Cup ride with Gilliet/Evernham, past Players Champ Car Racing teammate Alex Tagliani was spotted testing Ranger's Canadian Tire Series car (though, this past weekend, Tag was present at Laguna Seca's Mazda raceway coaching drivers in the Atlantic Series). Also a busy Canadian driver below the 49th, series points runner-up DJ Kennington has been making inroads to the big time in NASCAR with several good runs wheeling a Nationwide series vehicle. DJ be flying back north to drive his staple Castro Dodge Avenger again to the delight of spectators and the discontent of competitors.

While the youth crowd will become a major factor for this season, longtime Canadian stock car racing mainstay of Dave Whitlock. A three-time points winner dating back through the series' original Sanctioning body of CASCAR, Dave Whitlock's return to the #39 Dickies Dodge Avenger. Two-time winner last season Kerry Micks will continue add to his series-leading record of starts fighting in the #02 Beyond Digital Ford Fusion. Another long-time series supporter Peter Gibbons seems ready to campaign at least some races without a Chevy for the first time in a decade for Canadian Stock Car Racing. Inside Track spies caught Gibbons testing a Ford Fusion bodied racer at Mosport. Some honourable mentions for the upcoming season belongs to longtime competitor Mark Dilley and Scott Steckly, a first-time NASCAR Canadian Tire Series winner after the season finale race at Kawartha Speedway.

Predicting winning teams for the 2008 Nascar Canadian Tire Series may prove very difficult considering the young champions from the past two seasons. With 13 races consisting of road courses and ovals, we can at least assume the eastern and western parts of Canada will rumble as 20-plus hungry stock car drivers compete in nearly-identical fiberglass bodied race cars.

The green flag drops on second season of the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series launches this Saturday (May 24rd) at the super competitive oval of Cayuga International Speedway.

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