DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The second round of 2014 NASCAR Canadian Tire Series presented by Mobil 1 action is set for this Saturday with the inaugural Budweiser 300 at Autodrome Chaudière in Vallée-Jonction, Quebec.
The Budweiser 300 will mark the series’ first visit to the fast quarter-mile oval, located approximately 40 miles southeast of Quebec City. In the first seven seasons of Canadian Tire Series competition, no driver has posted more oval track wins than D.J. Kennington.
Kennington will have to lean on a career of oval experience and success this week in Quebec. He’s never even seen Autodrome Chaudière before, let alone raced there. The scope of his preparation to this point has been browsing online videos.
“I’ve just watched a couple of in-car cameras from when Kyle Busch was there running a late model,” Kennington said. “Other than that I have not done a thing.”
Fortunately for Kennington, he has two decades of oval expertise to lean on heading into the weekend.
“I was brought up at Delaware Speedway – I started racing there when I was 16 – so my background is oval,” Kennington said. “I used to race a lot of short tracks in Quebec. I ran the Quebec Sportsman Series and traveled all over Quebec racing short tracks, along with Delaware on Friday nights.
“I think there was one year we ran 39 races and they were all ovals. I just basically have an oval background from when I started. I enjoy ovals. l like the road courses as well, but I consider myself an oval guy for sure.”
A two-time series champion, Kennington has earned 16 of his 19 career Canadian Tire Series victories on ovals. The St. Thomas, Ontario veteran will look to make Autodrome Chaudière the ninth different oval track on his list of triumphs.
A Budweiser 300 victory would also give Kennington a third inaugural race victory. He won the series’ first event at Ontario ovals Barrie Speedway in 2007 and Delaware in 2009.
“I think we’re all going there to try and get a win, anytime you can get a win in this series it is big,” Kennington said. “Hopefully we can go there and have a good, solid run and set us up for the rest of the season.”
Kennington and the No. 17 Castrol Edge/Mahindra Tractors Dodge team, along with the rest of his Canadian Tire Series competition, will get a first look at the track with optional open practice on Friday.
“It looks like it’s going to be one of those tight short tracks, but it also looks like they can run two-wide from the racing I’ve seen online,” Kennington said. “Hopefully we can run two-wide there as well and put on a good show.”
The Race: The Budweiser 300 will be the inaugural event for the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series presented by Mobil 1 at Autodrome Chaudière and the second of 11 events on the 2014 season schedule.
The Procedure: The maximum starting field is 24 cars, including provisionals. The first 21 cars will have secured starting positions through two-lap time trials while the remaining three spots will be awarded through the provisional process. The race is scheduled for 300 laps (75 miles).
The Track: Autodrome Chaudière will become the 16th different track overall, and the 10th oval, to play host to a Canadian Tire Series event since the series’ inaugural 2007 season. The quart-mile, high-banked oval opened in 1992 with a dirt racing surface and was paved in 2005.
Budweiser 300 Race Notes:
First of Two New Oval Events: The 2014 NASCAR Canadian Tire Series presented by Mobil 1 schedule includes two facilities new to the series, starting with Quebec’s Autodrome Chaudière this week. The fast and wide quarter-mile oval is the first new circle track event since Saskatoon’s Auto Clearing Motor Speedway and Ontario’s Delaware Speedway joined the schedule in 2009. Edmonton International Raceway will play host to its first Canadian Tire Series event on July 11.
Steckly Strong on the Ovals: Second on the series’ oval track wins list is three-time titlist Scott Steckly, who has posted all 15 of his career victories on ovals. Among his list of triumphs are inaugural Canadian Tire Series events at Auto Clearing in 2009, Autodrome St. Eustache in Quebec in 2008 and Ontario’s Kawartha Speedway in 2007.
First Oval for Ranger Since 2012 Finale: Two-time Canadian Tire Series titlist Andrew Ranger is the most decorated road course racer in series history, but he’s also recorded three career oval track victories. He did not, however, have a single NASCAR oval start during the 2013 season, and his last Canadian Tire Series appearance at an oval was the 2012 finale at Kawartha.
Six Years Between Series Oval Starts for Tagliani: The Budweiser 300 will mark the first Canadian Tire Series start for Alex Tagliani on an oval since Aug. 9, 2008 at the former Canadian Tire Motorsport Park circle track. Tagliani has had a number of oval starts in IndyCar action during that timeframe, however, including this year’s Indianapolis 500.
Series Debut for Thiering: A five-time NASCAR Whelen All-American Series track champion at Edmonton, Erica Thiering is set to make her Canadian Tire Series debut at Autodrome Chaudière. The Sherwood Park, Alberta native would become the first female to take the green flag since Isabelle Tremblay last August at Circuit de Trois-Rivières. Thiering is entered in the No. 72 Dodge of owner Dave Jacombs, who fielded the team for both of Ranger’s series championships.
New Race Procedure for Budweiser 300: For the first time in Canadian Tire Series history, the Budweiser 300 will have a midway break. The race procedure has long been a staple of NASCAR regional touring series events in the United States. This week at Autodrome Chaudière there will be a mandatory competition caution midway break at or near the conclusion of Lap 150. The teams will be allowed to make changes that would occur during a routine pit stop like adding fuel, changing tires and chassis adjustments. The institution of this procedure was necessary because Autodrome Chaudière does not have a pit road.
Friday Open Test: Autodrome Chaudière will be open for testing by Canadian Tire Series teams this Friday in advance of Saturday’s official raceday activities. Standard NASCAR regional touring series regulations prohibit testing at a track seven days prior to the start of racing activities, but that rule is generally waived for first-time events.
Last Time Out: Canadian Tire Motorsport Park
The 2014 NASCAR Canadian Tire Series presented by Mobil 1 season opened on May 18 at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in rural Bowmanville, Ontario. Here are some highlights from the Pinty’s presents the Clarington 200:
• J.R. Fitzpatrick ended a 15-race winless drought with a record fourth career victory at CTMP. It marked his ninth NCATS triumph overall. He led a race-high 49 laps out of 53 total.
• Andrew Ranger captured his 13th career pole prior to the race and established the series’ track record in the process. It was his fourth pole in seven appearances at the road course. He was relegated to a 21st-place finish following mid-race electrical issues after he went to the rear at the start of the race for unapproved impound changes.
• Veterans Jeff Lapcevich (second), Hugo Vannini (seventh), Ray Courtemanche Jr. (10th) and David Thorndyke (11th) all recorded career-best finishes in the event.
• Reigning series champion Scott Steckly crashed out of the race with 23 laps complete and was scored 25th in the final rundown.
Next Time Out: Circuit ICAR
Following the Budweiser 300, the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series presented by Mobil 1 will return to action on July 6 with the Jiffy Lube 100 presented by La Petite Bretonne at Circuit ICAR in Mirabel, Quebec. It will mark the series’ fourth visit to the 2.113-mile, 14-turn road course located 20 miles north of Montreal at Montreal-Mirabel International Airport. Andrew Ranger is the two-time defending winner of the race.
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