The wait is finally over for Canadian NASCAR fans. NASCAR officially released the 2014 NASCAR Canadian Tire Series.
Overall, the schedule is pretty solid and mostly a repeat of last year. However, there are some slight changes include two new venues to replace two tracks that have fallen off the schedule.
“Things change as time moves on and we are prepared to find new events,” series director Alex Nagy commented. “Motorsports has a rich history in this country. One of our strengths is we’re the only national series in Canada. Key is to try to keep young people going to the races and we will survive.”
NASCAR’s International Competition Liasion Joe Balash was on hand at the Canadian Motorsports Expo this past weekend.
“I get to go around and say hello, bonjour and eh,” he commented. “I get to go everywhere and get to see a lot of drivers.”
Balash likes the direction that the NCAT Series is headed in respect to the drivers and schedule.
“Every series has unique newonces and the Canadian Tire Series has lot of talent, lot of experience, lot of calibrated aggression,” he commented.
The calculated aggression comes from the tight ovals that the series runs, like Barrie Speedway. Drivers are sometimes forced to use the bumper to get by someone.
“It’s football on wheels,” Mark Dilley commented. “Lots of cars out there and it’s intense. It really picks up in the last 50 laps. I want to say guys won’t wreck guys, but they’ll be leaning.”
The Canadian Tire Series also has a unique challenge compared to other NASCAR divisions with it with a balance of ovals and road courses. Noel Dowler is more known for ovals, but said he has warmed up to the road courses.
“I went into it with an open mind and I love it,” he commented. “We put a lot of effort in it with motors and body to do well.”
Dowler added both styles of racing offer a big difference as ovals focus on tight racing and using bumpers, while road courses are more about survival and staying on track.
As the same with previous seasons, the eighth season for the Canadian Tire Series will kick off as part of Victoria Day Speedfest on May 18th at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park. The 2.459-mile road course provides the perfect challenge to drivers with tight turns and elevation changes.
The series will then make their inaugural trip to Autodrome Chaudiere on June 14th. The high-banked .25 mile asphalt oval opened up in 1992 as a dirt track, before being paved in 2005. The track hosts some of the biggest late model events throughout the summer, including the PASS Late Models, so this marks no surprise.
“I like smaller tracks,” Nagy commented. “They put on good shows. The drivers are pros; they’ll put on a good show again.”
Autodrome Chaudiere replaces Canadian Tire Motorsports Park’s oval as the oval was tore up for a driver development track.
Chaudiere will be followed by a second Quebec stop – in the form of Circuit ICAR on July 6th. This year will mark the series’ fourth appearance at the exciting 2.113 mile road course in Mirabel, Quebec.
Motoplex Speedway in Vernon, British Columbia will no longer be part of the schedule in 2014. In exchange, the series will begin their western swing at Edmonton International Raceway on July 11th. The quarter-mile oval joins the schedule as a result of it’s long-standing membership as part of NASCAR’s Whelen All-American Series Late Model program. For drivers like Alberta native Dowler, it’s a welcomed change.
“I’m excited to go to Edmonton Raceway and run my home track,” Dowler said.
The second half of the western swing will be the same with a stop at Auto Clearing Speedway on July 16th in Saskatchewan. The 0.333 mile has sold out every Wednesday night the past five years.
After a successful trip to Autodrome St. Eustache last year, the series will return to the 0.4 mile flat oval on July 26th. The location is optimum for Quebec fans as it’s located just minutes from Montreal.
The final Quebec date of the season will be at Circuit de Trois-Rivieres on August 18th.
The NCAT competitors will then head east for their annual trip to Riverside International Speedway in Antigonish, Nova Scotia. The high-banked 0.333 mile oval will play host to the series on August 16th.
The series will then complete their 2014 season with three dates in Ontario.
The first is scheduled for August 31st in a return trip to Canadian Tire Motorsports Park’s road course as they will race alongside the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.
They will then head to Barrie Speedway on September 6th, for some beating and banging on one of the tightest 0.333 mile oval.
The season will then finish off at Kawartha Speedway on September 20th once again.
As the schedule was revealed, fans were disappointed to learn that Delaware Speedway will not be hosting an event in 2014. There is also speculation as to whether Sunset Speedway will land a date on the schedule in the future.
Last year saw an action packed season with the championship coming down to the final laps of the event at Kawartha Speedway. With a talented list of drivers that includes last year’s champion Scott Steckly, two-time champion D.J. Kennington, Jason Hathaway, Alex Tagliani and Andrew Ranger, look for the same result this year.
Steckly will look to lead the charge as he looks for his fourth championship.
“We are excited for the challenge,” he said. “Each year it gets competitive more and more. There are many people who can win. If you’re not prepared, you don’t stand a chance.”
Steckly added that the secret to being successful is being consistent throughout the season.
“Definitely can’t have many DNFs,” he added. “Got to have consistency. Got to win.”
Last year in route to the championship, the Milverton, Ontario native had four wins, eight top fives and nine top 10s in the 12 races. His 2011 title year saw three wins, nine top fives and 10 top 10s while 2008 saw four wins, nine top fives and nine top 10s.