Two years ago when NASCAR announced that the Camping World Truck Series would be going north of the border to Canada to turn left and right at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park, there were a lot of skeptics on whether the trucks could put on a good show. After a pair of exciting races over the past two years, there’s proof in the pudding that it was a good plan for series officials.
Beyond producing solid passing zones throughout the whole course, whether the bottom of the hill in turn one, or through the middle portion of the track with the carousel, or through the esses as they head back to the front stretch, the finishes to each of the races have been exciting to watch from a fan’s perspective. All the reasons why most fans got into racing could be summed up simply based on the pair of finishes.
The inaugural event featured a late-race duel between Chase Elliott and Ty Dillon that ultimately resulted in Dillon wrecked and Elliott in Victory Lane. On top of that, Max Papis and Mike Skeen were mad at each other for late race contact, with Skeen’s girlfriend giving Papis a slap post-race. The race had everything that gets people involved in NASCAR – close racing, contact, passion and some fighting.
Last season marked another great event, producing a late race battle between German Quiroga and Ryan Blaney. The pair raced for the lead back and forth throughout the final three laps, with Blaney edging Quiroga at the line to leave the fans on the edge of their seats.
“That was a lot of fun racing with German,” Blaney commented post-race. “We raced really hard and really clean, and that’s how racing should be. It was so much fun racing with him. I felt in the back of my mind that we were going to be close on fuel and I kept watching my fuel gauge the last seven laps or so and it would bounce to red every now and again but luckily I held on to it and Chad did a good job calculating fuel mileage. We didn’t qualify really good, but great call and strategy as it paid off in the end. That was a lot of fun.
With neither of the previous two winners entered in this weekend’s event, the series will see their third straight different winner. Who will that driver be?
Championship contenders Erik Jones and Matt Crafton have been fast at CTMP in the past, with previous top-10 finishes, highlighted by Jones’ third place finish last year. Reddick, the current points leader, will enter this weekend racing on a road course for the first time. Depending on how well he adapts will determine whether he has success; notably, he’s racing for the team that won the race last year, and will have road course ace Alex Tagliani as a teammate.
Certainly the Canadian fans will be cheering on Quebec-native Tagliani, but also Calgary, Alberta’s Cameron Hayley. Hayley is currently in the midst of his first full season of competition, racing for ThorSport Racing. He finished 11th last year in his series debut.
Though beyond those mentioned, the possibility of who will visit victory lane at the end of the event is endless as it will depend upon who can keep the rubber on the road, avoid trouble and play the right strategy. Regardless, though, the event has proven to be a fan-favorite of drivers, as John Wes Townley commented pre-season, “It’s nice to be able to do something a little different once and a while; it’s nice to turn right after a whole year of turning left.”
The success of the event has everybody happy, from the drivers who get to take on the unique experience, to the Canadian fans who get to see a show for once on their side of the border. While NASCAR is American-based for the most part, there are many Canadians who follow the series, watching each of the races every week on TV and discuss them among the fans. There’s always been the fact that if you wanted to see a race, you had to cross the border. Certainly, a lot of fans do that as Michigan International Speedway reports that 40 percent of their fans are Canadian. Though for some fans, there’s not enough money to pay for the tickets, the hotel and the fuel to get down there – along with other costs. That’s why having a race in their backyard is a welcome addition.
The success of the event and having over 75,000 people on hand lined along the front stretch grass seating area, as well as in some of the turns to witness the action only NASCAR can deliver certainly also has the track ownership happy, too.
“It’s been a great evolution for us to host one of the three NASCAR major series,” CTMP track co-owner Ron Fellows commented back in March. “I guess we were initially pleasantly surprised with the success the event has had, the Chevrolet Silverado 250. We’re excited to bring it back for a third year.”
With the success of the truck event, there have been discussions stirred around about a possible XFINITY race happening at CTMP in the future. Fellows would love to see the facility host an additional NASCAR event in the future.
“NASCAR is incredibility popular, and it’s not that easy to secure dates. We’ve made it known that we want to host an XFINITY Series event so we’ll see,” he commented. “We have the facility at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park to support something as big as XFINITY, and we’ll just have to keep plugging away.”