Welcome to wheels.ca’s live blog covering Friday practice for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series inaugural Canadian event, the Chevrolet Silverado 250 at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park. Wheels editor Norris McDonald and contributors Gary Grant and Stephanie Wallcraft will be adding to-the-minute updates to this page throughout the day. The most recent updates will be at the top, so start at the bottom for best results. Enjoy!
Sports car racer Mike Skeen set fastest time in practice this afternoon for Sunday’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race with Mexican road racer German Quiroga second.
But the surprise of the day was the performance of third-place fast practicer Ryan Blaney, whose previous road-racing experience came in an ARCA stock car race at Road America. But compared to the other two in the top three – both of whom are very experienced at turning right as well as left, and shifing gears – Blaney is a raw rookie.
Skeen and Quiroga were one-two in the two-hour morning practice session while Blaney was sixth behind, among others, ex-CART and sports car racer Max Papis. Blaney’s best lap in the morning session was 83.394 econds but he improved to 82.185 seconds after lunch.
Other Camping World Series regulars picked up their socks in the afternoon session as well. Miguel Paludo, Ty Dillon and Chase Elliott held positions four through six while Joey Coulter was seventh. Defending series champion James Buescher improved from 13th place in the morning to ninth in the afternoon.
Skeen turned the fastest lap in the morning of 82.795 seconds, which translated into a speed of 106.919 miles an hour. In the afternoon, he went 81.449 seconds (108.686 mph).
Skeen, who won the last four Pirellie World Challenge races here at Canadian Tire Motorpsort Park, didn’t turn many laps. He either didn’t need the practice or else the truck he’s driving might not be as reliable as he would like.
Blaney is the son of Dave Blaney, a NASCAR Sprint Cup driver whose background is sprint car racing on dirt and who owns a small dirt speedway.
On-track activity is over for the day, although more and more campers continue to arrive.
Saturday, there will be more truck series practice as well as practice and qualifying for the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series stock cars. The Canadian Touring Car Series will go right into qualifying and will actually race in mid-afternoon. Late in the day Saturday, the truck seriEs will qualify for Sunday’s race. – Norris McDonald
German Quiroga, a graduate of the Mexico-based NASCAR Toyota Series, posted a quick lap late in the afternoon practice session that wound up being the second-fastest when the checkered flag flew at 5:00 PM. Mike Skeen remained fastest on the day with a time of 1:21.449 — and that’s with only having run 14 laps total in both sessions. Ryan Blaney was in third, Miguel Paludo fourth, and Ty Dillon in fifth. Dillon has raced here before: he finished 7th in the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series event over Victoria Day weekend. He’ll also be doing double duty in the trucks and NCATS this weekend along with 2012 NCWTS champion James Buescher, Jeb Burton, and Chad Hackenbracht, as well as NCATS regulars Alex Guenette and Martin Roy.
The two on-track incidents both happened within the last hour of running time: John Wes Townley made contact in turn 3 (he was subsequently evaluated and released from the infield care centre); and Johnny Sauter went off in turn 5. Some pundits had predicted that there would be more yellow time than green on this first full day of track activity for the trucks, but that turned out not to be the case.
Tomorrow’s activities get under way with Canadian Touring Car Championship qualifying at 8:45 AM (yes, that’s correct — they will qualify without running a practice session first):
8:45 am – 9:15 am Canadian Touring Car Championship Qualifying
9:30 am – 10:30 am NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Practice
10:40 am – 11:50 am NASCAR Canadian Tire Series Practice
12:00 pm – 1:00 pm NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Final Practice
1:10 pm – 2:00 pm NASCAR Canadian Tire Series Final Practice
2:00 pm – 3:00 pm Lunch
3:00 pm – 3:30 pm Canadian Touring Car Championship Race #1
4:00 pm – 4:20 pm NASCAR Canadian Tire Series Qualifying – Group #1
4:30 pm – 4:50 pm NASCAR Canadian Tire Series Qualifying – Group #2
5:05 pm NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Qualifying
We’ll be back bright and early tomorrow with day two of wheels.ca’s live blog from the Chevrolet Silverado 250 at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park. - Stephanie Wallcraft
Nobody had better try to tell the Canadians that they don’t know how to appreciate a NASCAR event. A walk through the very busy camping area reveals grills flaring, country music blaring, beer cans piling, and people lounging near every available viewing point — with many maple leaf flags fluttering in the background next to NASCAR flags and checkers. This is going to be one big weekend-long tailgate, just like a good time at the track should be.
On top of that, the sun has burned off some of the humidity, so it’s downright pleasant out there at the moment.
As for the action on track, there have been a few yellow flag periods in the afternoon session but not nearly as many incidents as some might have expected from the first full day with the trucks at speed.
With the session winding down, Mike Skeen posted a quick lap late that bested the previous fast lap by Ryan Blaney by nearly a full MPH. As of this writing, Miguel Paludo of Brazil is third fastest, Chase Elliott fourth and Joey Coulter fifth. - Stephanie Wallcraft
We’re still early into the on-track action, but one thing’s already certain: the people camping here this weekend are going to have the time of their lives. A cheerful and patriotic crowd has turned out early to claim their assigned camping spaces and take in every minute of the action.
There’s one thing I’ve always found especially charming about the camping experience at CTMP. Everyone loves to enjoy a beer or two while watching cars go fast, but once those bottles are empty no one wants the job of taking them all back, right? Worry not – The Beer Store is on hand and ready to help. Simply drop your empties at the main collection point in the infield between turns 2 and 3, or place them in any of the blue bins located throughout the grounds. The bottles go back into circulation, saving money and the environment, and you don’t have to do a thing.
Frequent visitors to CTMP will find that a few things are different this weekend. Norris mentioned that the Camping World Truck Series is set up in the Lower Paddock to aid with security, and because the trucks need to drive from there up to pit lane to enter the track there’s a pedestrian walkway set up to keep the crowds moving safely.
Fortunately, the temperatures are moderate and there’s a light breeze, but the air is extremely muggy. It’s one of those days where the humidity just sticks to you and you end up sweating standing still. We’ve had a few sprinkles as well, and the only red flag of the morning session occurred when they got a little too frequent for the comfort of the officials. The teams are no doubt hoping that things clear up soon — they have no cover whatsoever in the paddock area this weekend.
Already this weekend there are lots of parents walking their kids around with trucks on track while the poor little dears stick their fingers in their ears. Permit me what is quickly becoming a traditional race weekend soapbox rant: parents, please bring hearing protection for your children. These trucks are very loud for tiny ears, much more so than one might think!
And with the sun beginning to break through the clouds, the afternoon practice session just got under way. – Stephanie Wallcraft
And the first practice session is done. Mike Skeen remains on top, followed up by German Quiroga Jr. Max Papis, Miguel Paludo and Darrell Wallace Jr. It will be interesting to see where this goes this afternoon after teams make some changes. Gary Grant
Have I mentioned yet today that I think Mike Skeen is the man to beat in the trucks this weekend? Well, with just 20 minutes left to go in the first 2 hour practice session, Skeen is leading the way with a fastest lap of 1.22.795 which is half a second quicker than Ryan Blaney and Chase Elliott. Road racing superstar “Mad” Max Papis is close to a second slower than Skeen’s pace. I expect we’ll see times anywhere from a second to two quicker by the time Sunday rolls around. Gary Grant
Just about everyone has been expecting a healthy dose of bent sheetmetal today as many of the drivers experience a road course for the first time today. Others, like Brendan Gaughan, Max Papis an Ron Hornaday Jr. are old hands at turning left and right. During this morning’s driver’s meeting, officials told drivers that the first ten laps of today’s practice session will be held under yellow to allow them to get a feel for the track. There are currently two trucks on the track and from the sounds of things they are taking it very, very easy. Gary Grant
A Monster Indeed!
Let’s get your weekend started with some recommended reading. Here are some quick links to the preview coverage for this race that Wheels has put together over the past few days.
First, Wheels editor Norris McDonald offers a review of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series drivers at the top of the point standings coming into the weekend:
NASCAR trucks ready to rumble at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park
And he also takes a look at two of the Canadian entrants — a third has since been confirmed, Derek White of Kahnawake, Quebec — and some of the wild cards from further back in the field:
Second Canadian joins NASCAR trucks field
To kick off his weekend, Gary Grant caught up with NCWTS drivers Ty Dillon and Brendan Gaughan:
Racers Ty Dillon, Brendan Gaughan have landed
And he spoke with Ron Fellows to learn more about his decision to keep his boots hung up this weekend and focus on his job as promoter and co-owner of Canadian Tire Motorsport Park:
Why racer Ron Fellows made the shift from driver to promoter
As for today’s schedule, it’s all Camping World Truck Series today to give the field plenty of opportunity to get used to turning right for the first time in 13 years. The morning session runs from 11:30 to 1:30, and the afternoon runs from 2:30 to 5:00. – Stephanie Wallcraft
Good morning from Canadian Tire Motorsport Park and welcome to wheels.ca’s non-stop coverage of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series weekend.
In about 30 minutes, the trucks will begin first practice for Sunday’s 2 p.m. race. Wheels writers Norris McDonald, Stephanie Wallcraft and Gary Grant will post photos, news, gossip and everything else they come across throughout the day and all weekend. They will be joined Saturday and Sunday by Wheels writer Matthew Strader.
The NASCAR contingent is in the Lower Paddock at CTMP and while the public can watch from the outside, passes are required to gain entry. This will be a change for most fans who attend races regularly at Old Mosport because paddock access is allowed by other series.
The Upper Paddock is empty; the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series stock cars and the Canadian Touring Car Championship cars and drivers won’t be arriving till later today.
The weekend is being sponsored by General Motors and the headline race is called the Chevrolet Silverado 250. It was ironic, then, that the first truck on the circuit today – in leading seven Durham Regional EMS ambulances around – was a Ford F350 heavy duty pickup.
Although the situation has improved, dense fog enveloped the circuit this morning and brought back memories of the 1972 Canadian Grand Prix when the Formula One race, scheduled for 1 p.m., didn’t get started until after 3:30 in the afternoon because of heavy rain and fog. Back then, organizers – who were tired of waiting, finally sent all 32 F1 cars out to do laps and, hopefully, blow away the fog and it worked. Thankfully, that didn’t have to happen today.
By the way, a third Canadian is in the field this weekend. Derek White of Kahnawake, Que., a semi-regular in trucks and the Nationwide stock cars, will drive truck No. 81. He will join two other Quebec racers, Alex Guenette and Martin Roy in the trucks race.
- Norris McDonald