DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The hottest oval driver competing in the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series presented by Mobil 1 right now faces a big opportunity with two such races in a six-day span starting with Friday’s Alberta Has Energy 300 at Edmonton International Raceway.
Jason Hathaway has won three of the last four oval races the series has contested dating back to the end of the 2013 campaign, including the first circle track event of the current season at Autodrome Chaudiere on June 15.
Although he won’t yet rank himself alongside the D.J. Kenningtons and Scott Stecklys of the world – who have combined for 31 circle track victories – Hathaway is confident that his No. 3 Rockstar Energy Drink Chevrolet is as formidable as any other on the ovals.
“I don’t know about elite, but I would classify us one of the teams that can win at every oval we go to,” Hathaway said. “This series is so competitive with Kennington, Steckly, J.R. [Fitzpatrick] – and to have Andrew [Ranger] back this year – it’s such a competitive series.
Although he won a race in 2008 and recorded a career-high for top 10s in 2010, Hathaway has emerged as a legitimate championship contender in the last two seasons with the ability to consistently contend for wins on the ovals. He and Ed Hakonson Racing finished third in points in 2013.
“We put a lot of emphasis into our oval program, and it’s kind of my background and what I grew up doing,” Hathaway said. “I would say there’s been some luck involved, and things have to go your way week-in and week-out, but we’ve had really good luck on the ovals and we definitely want to keep that streak going.”
The upcoming western swing, starting with Edmonton and continuing on to Auto Clearing Motor Speedway on July 16, provides the Dutton, Ontario, native with a big opportunity to build a championship campaign. He ranks fourth after three events.
“With only 11 races, there’s not much room for error, so the ovals are definitely where I want to pick up as many points as I can,” Hathaway said.
But first things first, Hathaway must learn a new track. Friday’s Alberta Has Energy 300 will be the inaugural trip for the Canadian Tire Series to the quarter-mile oval. Much like he and a number of drivers did before the first series trip to Quebec’s Autodrome Chaudiere, Hathaway has done as much research as he can on YouTube watching past feature races there.
In addition to it being the first time Hathaway and many of his fellow competitors will see Edmonton, the quarter-mile was very recently repaved and raced on for the first time this past weekend.
Hathaway recalls racing on a new surface shortly after Ontario’s Barrie Speedway was repaved in the early 2000s, but said this will be a new experience.
“Never [raced] on anything this green before,” Hathaway said. “It’ll only be two-week-old pavement by the time we get there. It’s either going to have a lot of grip, or won’t have any at all, but we’ll see when we get there.”
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