Following a season that has been highlighted by three trips to victory lane – including a sweep of both east coast events – Scott Steckly now heads into the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series season finale, the Pinty’s 250 at Kawartha Speedway, with a nine point advantage over Jason Hathaway and Andrew Ranger.
For Steckly, a finish of fourth or better without leading a lap, fifth or better with a lap led, or sixth or better with leading the most laps would hand him the championship with no math involved as he would have more points than Hathaway or Ranger could possibly score in the event, even if either were to win and lead the most laps.
“As a team, we’re looking forward to the Pinty’s 250,” he commented. “I wish it would’ve been two weeks ago instead of waiting this long. But, anything can happen in racing and we’re going there to win the race and hopefully get Canadian Tire another championship.”
With the points lead in hand, some would believe that perhaps the three-time champion will lay back and see how things play out, before jumping up into the fight for the lead. However, he doesn’t think there will be any laying back when the green flags flies on Saturday night as “there’s so many good cars that you have to run up front and lead laps”. While the championship is the first priority, he says going into the event that they’re “definitely going to be going for the win and not sitting back”.
Though with that said, he says the way they play the race out will depend on how the car is handling, as well.
“We don’t know if we’ll be able to run in the top-three all day, or if we’ll struggle to be able to run in the top-five, or what,” he commented. “We definitely have to play it smart to win the championship as that’s our main goal. To do that, we feel that we need to lead laps and run up front all day. Obviously though to win a championship you need to be there at the end, and you’re not going to be there at the end if you get in a wreck or anything like that. So obviously I have to race very smart, but the goal is to run up front all day.”
Steckly is heading to a track that he knows how to run up front at, having two wins and an average finish of fifth in his eight Kawartha starts.
“I love racing at Kawartha,” he commented. “It’s a fast race track. There’s lots of room. It’s very forgiving, and good and wide. We love going there. The fans are great in the Peterborough area and all over Ontario. It’s great race track to finish the year at.”
One of the differences this year compared to others years, though, will be no live pit stops. NASCAR announced that rather than live pit stops, they will have a five-minute break at lap 125 of 250 for pit service. Steckly admits that he would’ve rather seen live pit stops as he has a great pit crew behind him, however feels that this could work out better without having to worry about a team pulling a late-race strategy gamble.
“We don’t have to worry about getting beat by strategy and the position that we’re in, it’s maybe a good thing,” he commented. “So, we basically just have to not worry about strategy and make sure we have a good car on the long runs and make sure we can stay up front the whole night.”
Heading into the event, the teams have also had a little break – three weeks between the previous event at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park and this weekend’s race at Kawartha. During the time, Steckly says the 22 Racing team has kept busy, “testing and working on the cars a little bit”.
“We’re just obviously going over everything that we can so we don’t have any parts failures, and have spare parts and stuff like that,” he added. “It’s been nice to have a break, but like I said earlier, I would’ve rather raced two weeks ago.
“But, we’ll see what happens.”