It all comes down to one race as the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series will run their season finale this Saturday at Kawartha Speedway with the Pinty’s 250. Though while the focus will be on the four drivers mathematically eligible for the championship, there will be 20 other drivers in the field, vying to end the season off on a high note with a win.
Mark Dilley is one of those drivers looking for a victory, as he has gone the previous two seasons without a victory, since winning at Barrie Speedway in 2011. While his year didn’t start off as he would’ve hoped, the veteran has done well in his last three starts, posting top-four finishes in each of those races. The highlight of those being a runner-up at Autodrome St. Eustache after battling for the win in the late stages. The driver of the No. 02 Johnsonville/Leland/BDI Ford has done well at Kawartha before, scoring five top-10 finishes with an average finish of ninth in eight previous starts.
Dwayne Baker will be making fifth career start this weekend as he looks improve on his previous starts, which include a series-best 12th place finish at Sunset Speedway last June. Baker’s first trip to Kawartha last season didn’t go as planned with a 20th place finish. Certainly if the late model veteran is able to pull off a top-10 finish, it’ll be considered a success.
Jason White will be making his second start of the season this weekend, driving for Rob McConnell. White is hoping this weekend goes better than his first start of the year at Sunset, where a mechanical issue took him out of the running. In seven previous Kawartha starts, the British Columbia native has posted two top-10s, finishing eighth in 2007 and 2011.
Last year’s series champion L.P. Dumoulin enters this weekend with a long shot at the championship, currently sitting 23 points behind Scott Steckly. Though for Dumoulin to win the championship, he’s going to have to hope for some things to go his way. For example, if Dumoulin leads the most laps and wins the race (finishing the season with 428 points), he wins the championship if…..
- Steckly finishes worse than 20th without a leading lap, worse than 21st if he led a lap, and worse than 22nd if he led the most laps.
- Hathaway and Ranger both finish worse than 11th without leading a lap, worse than 12th if they led a lap, and worse than 13th if they led the most laps
“We’ve been around racing for a long time and seen a lot of magical stuff out there,” Dumoulin noted. “But, of course, it’s a long shot to win the championship this weekend. I think our WeatherTech team has been focusing more on winning the race than the championship. You never want to wish bad luck to anyone so I just hope that we can give a really good show for the fans. I know there’s going to be a lot of drivers and cars out there – 24 cars I think – so I’m looking forward to the race itself than the championship. The championship – you never know. But I just want to have fun out there and try hard to win the race.”
Statistically speaking, Dumoulin only has an average of 14th to go with his previous four starts, but posted his best Kawartha finish last season, ending up ninth.
Kevin Lacroix will make his sixth career start this weekend, after picking up victories earlier this season at Circuit ICAR and Trois-Rivieres. Notably, this is only Lacroix’s second career oval start following a 16th place finish at Autodrome St. Eustache.
Josh Collins will make his second career start this weekend after finishing 10th in his debut in Antigonish, Nova Scotia.
Jason Hathaway enters this weekend hoping to repeat some of his previous Kawartha Speedway success. He picked up a victory in 2008 and has four top 10s and an average finish of ninth in the previous eight Kawartha events. He has also seen success in each type of car that he has driven, with a victory in a late model at the Summer Sizzler, a victory in a street stock and a CASCAR victory. He enters this weekend with a shot at the championship, sitting only nine points behind Scott Steckly. There are plenty of scenarios that would hand Hathaway his first career championship. Though if Hathaway leads the most laps and wins the race (finishing the season with 442 points), he wins the championship if Steckly finishes worse than fourth without a leading lap, worse than fifth if he led a lap, and worse than sixth if he led the most laps.
“Looking forward to this weekend and getting down to this last race to decide the championship,” Hathaway commented. “I know our team, like everybody else, is putting in extra hours this week. Looking forward to getting on the track and putting on a show for the fans.”
There’s also momentum on his side, as he won the last event for the series, picking up the victory at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park on August 30.
Noel Dowler will make his fourth start of the season this weekend, following a pair of top-10s, highlighted by a sixth place finish in his last start at Saskatoon. Dowler has finished in the top-10 once before at Kawartha, finishing sixth in 2013.
He will be joined in the field by fellow Alberta native James Van Domselaar, who makes his fourth start of the season as well. He has also posted a pair of top-10s thus far, highlighted by a ninth at Edmonton International Raceway. He has made one previous start at Kawartha, finishing 11th.
Three-Time Series Champion Scott Steckly enters this weekend leading by nine points ahead of 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 lea 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.”
Steckly has two wins and an average finish of fifth in his eight Kawartha starts. He noted during the media press conference that he loves racing at Kawartha, as it’s a fast track with lots of room to race.
Fellow Championship contender Andrew Ranger has also done well at Kawartha in the past, too. He has an average finish of 10th and a best result of second (2012) in four previous Kawartha appearances
“I think it’s going to be a stressful race,” Ranger commented. “I’ve been with the MOPAR team already. They’ve been working really hard on the car and its going to be a fun race, fun track. Hope we put on a good show for the fans and win a third championship.”
Last year’s Jostens Rookie of the Year Matthew Scannell is hoping to have a strong finish after posting an eighth place finish last year at Kawartha Speedway. If he could finish in the top-10 this weekend, it’d mark his first top-10 of the season.
Gary Klutt enters this weekend looking to lock up the Josten’s Rookie of the Year Award for 2015 after winning the season opener at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park. Entering the Pinty’s 250, Klutt leads Marc-Antoine Camirand by five points. Per NASCAR, “The rookie standings are determined on a point-per-position basis, from 10 points for the highest-finishing rookie, to nine, and so on. There are currently eight rookies registered for the Pinty’s 250, which does give Camirand a chance to catch and pass Klutt.” Klutt’s Kawartha debut did not go well last season, as he finished 22nd.
J.F Dumoulin will be making his first trip to Kawartha Speedway this season. He has been solid in his six previous oval starts, posting a pair of top-fives and four top-10s. Currently sitting seventh in points, a solid run would be huge as it’d give Dumoulin seven top-10s in his first full-time season on the tour.
Alex Tagliani will be hoping to score his second victory of the season after dominating at Sunset Speedway back in June. He has done well at in his 16 career oval starts, posting eight top-10s and an average finish of 12th. He made his debut at Kawartha last season, posting an unfortunate 21st place finish.
Joey McColm is hoping to have a solid run to close the season after experiencing a season that perhaps didn’t go as he would’ve hoped, currently sitting 10th in points with three top-10 finishes. McColm has made seven previous starts at Kawartha, but has yet to post a top-10 finish.
Marc-Antoine Camirand is hoping to end his rookie season on a high-note after posting four top-fives and seven top-10s thus far in his rookie season. He has done well in his seven previous oval starts, posting four top fives, six top 10s, an average finish of seventh and a best result of second (Riverside International Speedway, 2015). Last year at Kawartha didn’t go as planned, though, with a 17th place finish.
D.J. Kennington has yet to visit victory lane this season, which is a shock to long time followers of the season, as he currently has the second-most wins of any driver in the history of the series with 19. Kawartha has treated him well in the past, though, as he is a three-time winner at the facility and has posted seven top-10s with an average finish of fifth in eight starts.
Adam Dowler will make his third career start this weekend after finishing 10th earlier this season in Saskatoon.
Cayden Lapcevich will make his sixth career start this weekend, coming off of a top-10 finish at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park that he earned after starting the race from the rear of the field. Lapcevich has had success this season, finishing third at Sunset Speedway in June.
Anthony Simone is hoping to shake the bad luck that has bitten him all year long this weekend and post a solid finish to complete the season. He has done well at Kawartha in the past, posting a seventh place finish in 2009.