This weekend at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park, Alex Tagliani is going to be a very busy driver behind the wheel as he is set to do double duty. The Quebec native will run the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series race behind the wheel of the No. 18 EpiPen Dodge, before making his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series debut with Brad Keselowski Racing.
“I’m very honored to race for Brad Keselowski Racing and drive the Reese No. 19 truck so hopefully we can have a good weekend,” Tagliani commented on Tuesday. “Ryan Blaney and I are teaming together so definitely going to try to have a good weekend for the team.”
In trying to post a pair of solid finishes in both races – possibly a pair of wins – there is a big challenge that lies ahead in getting them both set-up accordingly for the 11-turn course, as well as the fact that the Canadian Tire Series car and the truck drive much differently from each other.
“One drives completely different than the other – the braking system, the weight is tremendously different,” Tagliani explained. “You can see just when you drive a NASCAR Canada car, it has less brakes, but the car is much lighter. The chassis are built differently so they feel tremendously different.”
Tagliani admitted that the differences do have him concerned, but he’s committed to doing well for both programs this weekend.
“I think I just have to make sure that I don’t get caught up driving the cars the same way and trying to do the same thing with one and another,” he added. “If I can put myself in the right mode and drive them how they want to be driven in both series, I think I can extract the best out of both.”
Beyond the challenges behind the wheel, there’s the challenge that lies ahead in the track as Canadian Tire Motorsports Park has 11 unique corners at different elevations throughout, ready to catch a driver off-guard. While Tagliani hasn’t ran the track in a stockcar, he has ran the track in a sports car in the past.
“It’s very fast. Everybody knows that it’s quick,” Tagliani commented. “I think that the track is unique in itself. I think there’s a lot of fast corners, a lot of blind corners, a lot of elevation changes. Turn two is always unique and very special, but turn four is really special too. Then you have turn eight, nine and 10 that are fast. It’s tough to pinpoint one place around the track (that’s tough) because they’re all important. They all have their particulars so it’s not like a track with 12 corners and two are difficult and the rest are easy. I think Canadian Tire Motorsports Park track – everyone is tricky so I think that’s why it’s difficult to pinpoint one spot in the track.”
If anybody can do it, though, it’s Tagliani as a lot of people have faith based on the Quebec native’s previous success on the road courses throughout the years in different forms of vehicles – whether sports cars, IndyCars or the NASCAR Nationwide Series. Tagliani ran a pair of Natiownide Series this year for Team Penske in the No. 22 Discount Tire Ford.
“I was very honored to be part of the team and to contribute to the owner’s championship,” Tagliani said. “Penske Racing puts a lot of importance into the owner’s championship. The Discount car is a very iconic car in the Nationwide Series. I really honored to be part of the expedition and really contribute to doing well for their championship.
“Road America was a great event. I got on the pole there, fought our way through, led the most laps. We were in the lead and with one laps to go, we ran out of fuel. But it turned out that green-white-checkered situation we made it back from 23rd to second, eight tenths behind the leader; so it was pretty hectic and amazing finish. For the team, it was good to capitalize on the opportunity and get good exposure for Discount Tire.
“Then Mid-Ohio, we had another strong race. We were really strong car there ¾ of the race, and then since the 54 car – the car in competition with us for the championship – basically went off, we decided to use a conservative strategy, which made us finish top-five so that was really good. We made up a lot of ground in the championship and came out on top by a considerable amount of points for Roger Penske so it was more a question of putting the team first, and not my own personal agenda and try to fight with the other guys and take risks to win the race. It was more being a team player, and I say after those two races – mission accomplished.”