Saturday, June 14, 2008

2008 Preview: NASCAR Canadian Tire Series Dickies 200 presented by Lucas Oil at Mosport road course

Mosport International Raceway resides within the threads of Canadian auto racing as the ultimate palace of motoring greatness. Amongst being Canada's fixture for Formula One for many years and the long standing sports car battles, Sir Stering Moss, Bruce McLaren, Jackie Stewart, and Jody Scheckter are winners of various historic races at the 2.4 mile road course located in a scenic part an hour outside of Toronto. When the stock cars of the CASCAR Super Series started racing at the track, the fish out of water syndrome of clumsy stock cars and mostly oval track racers have long provided an amusing race for fans. Last year, the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series continued the tradition as Andrew Ranger slug out between him and JR Fitzpatrick in this famed road course event.

With road courses offering some of the best chances to mount a 2008 defence of his championship title, Andrew Ranger will be a favoured contender again based on his acquired road course mastery through smaller formula cars and the Champ car series. Not to be overlooked is the last year's Mosport second place finisher JR Fitzpatrick who showed considerable strength in road racing competition. In the 2007 NASCAR Canadian Tire series, Fitzpatrick record on in four races was one win and two top 10 finishes. Also hot on the trail of these young guns are the experienced pros of Fastline Motorsports driven by Jim and Jeff Lapcevich. Piloting Tim Horton-sponsored Chevrolets numbered 23 and 25, they always bring out their A game for road courses (or should I say, apex game).

Wild cards include Alex Tagliani running his 1st full season with Jacombs Racing. With equal equipment to teammate Ranger, he could be a major threat at race's end. Also appearing on the entry list, specifically for the first road course race of the season, is past Mosport winner Robin Buck and auto journalist/racer Pierre Bourque. Both drivers plan to overcome their limited schedules with their well-crafted road racing abilities to challenge through the 51-lap affair.

The 2008 Dickies 200 presented by Lucas Oil will also be the competitive debut of Peter Gibbons steering a Ford Fusion after a decade long commitment to being Chevrolet's vanguard for Canadian stock car racing. While Gibbons had planned to run a Ford for the road course races this season, maybe with Mosport's close proximity to the Oshawa General Motors truck plant which has just been slated for closure, the political climate of workers and union leaders may take some solace from the longtime GM racer making a partial exodus from the badge.

The weather reports almost mirror the postponed St Eustache race attempted late last month. Forecasts are favourable for Saturday afternoon qualifying, however, Sunday reflects a 40% chance of precipitation which may work into contention with the 1:30PM start time of the main event. With a little optimism, it's more than likely that we as fans of Canadian's premier stock car series can look forward to fiberglass-scrapping action we are accustomed to in the first of four NASCAR Canadian Tire Series match ups.

Again, qualifying is set for Saturday afternoon through two time trial groups for the 30 cars planned to race in the 51 laps or 200 kilometers of Mosport on Sunday afternoon. Also joining the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series is the Grand-Am KONI Challenge series, Castrol Canadian Touring Car Championship presented by Toyo Tires, the Ontario Formula Ford Challenge, and the Skip Barber BF Goodrich National presented by Mazda for what is a speed-filled Father's Day Doubleheader Weekend package at Mosport.

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