NASCAR trucks live blog: James Buescher wins pole
Welcome to wheels.ca’s live blog from Saturday at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series inaugural Canadian event, the Chevrolet Silverado 250. 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 if this is your first visit. Enjoy!
I just spent an hour and a half touring the camping areas, and every single person I spoke with said and did the exact same things.
That’s not to say that they aren’t all unique individuals. Some are young; some are old. Some are here for the first time (attracted by the Camping World Truck Series); some have been camping here on race weekends since the ‘60s. Some traveled 15 minutes to get here; some traveled 15 hours.
But every single one of them smiled as I walked by. Every one I stopped with welcomed me warmly into their campsite. Nearly every one offered me a drink – when I declined because I’m working, they offered water instead.
And every single one is having a great time, enjoying the improved facilities, and deeply appreciating the effort and investment that Ron Fellows and his team are putting into Old Mosport to turn her into a world-class facility worthy of a NASCAR national series event.
“This place is a jewel and they’re finally starting to treat it that way,” said Chad Wilcox from Thedford, Ontario.
The praise was universal for how well things are being run this weekend: the facilities are being kept extremely clean, there’s a security presence that’s functioning well, and everyone’s able to just relax and have a great time.
The only complaint I heard – and this was also nearly universal – is that the oval track is gone. Several people told me they’re used to spending a Saturday night at Mosport watching a race on the oval, and this weekend they don’t know what to do with themselves. There’s a sense that support for grassroots racing is waning, and that’s clearly being lamented.
There’s one more thing that’s certain: Canada has taken on of this event and is holding onto it proudly. There are people here who have driven from as close as Bowmanville and as far as Vancouver, and the crowd is almost entirely composed of Canadians.
Christine Matthews of Seagrave, Ontario, has been with her husband to NASCAR events at Michigan, Bristol, Daytona, and Charlotte, but she says she feels a greater connection with this event.
“It’s huge,” she says. “To be in our own backyard – we don’t mind the traveling, but to be 25 minutes away is awesome.”
One more consistent sentiment: everyone I spoke to hopes this event gets even bigger. These fans welcomed NASCAR and the Camping World Truck Series with open arms, and they know that throwing their support behind this race gives them a better shot at seeing a Nationwide event or possibly even a Sprint Cup race at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.
To the folks camped out here this weekend, life wouldn’t get much better. – Stephanie Wallcraft
Defending NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion James Buescher shocked just about everybody here this afternoon by winning the pole for tomorrow’s Chevrolet Silverado 250.
Buescher, who had not shown any particular speed during practice most of Friday and again today, went around the 2.459-mile Canadian Tire Motorsport Park circuit in one minute, 21.074 seconds for a speed of 109.189 miles an hour.
Ryan Blaney will start second. His time of 81.091 seconds was just a tick slower than Buescher’s. Mike Skeen, the sports car driver who dominated the time charts most of Friday, will start third after turning in a lap of 1:21:158.
Canadian Alex Guenette, who is also racing in the Canadian Tire Series event Sunday (he qualified 16th for that race) qualified 14th for the truck race. Other Canadians: Martin Roy, 21st, and Derek White, 26th.
“We got pretty comfortable yesterday in practice and then we made some changes today,” Buescher said. “I went out and practiced in the Canadian Tire Series car and got back in the truck and all the grip it had compared to the car made me stop complaining about my truck. The lap we turned then was the fastest since we got here.
“I’m a little bit puzzled that I was able to get the pole here. My track record on road courses isn’t bad but I wouldn’t say I’m a road course ringer. I’m proud of my guys and all the people on this Turner-Scott Motorsports crew.”
I asked him how much the stock car had helped him get his speed up in the truck.
“The gearing is pretty similar, your shift points are pretty similar for most of the race track and from that aspect things translate. When I get out of the car and into the truck, you can hustle a lot more. The brakes are better, the handling is better and there’s more grip. Getting out of the car and into the truck makes me fell like I have all the grip in the world and makes me want to hustle the truck more than if I was just driving the truck. It helps me find my limits.”
This was Buescher’s fifth career pole and second of 2013. It will be his eighth top ten start this year. He’s been on a roll for a few weeks now.
The Canadian Tire stock cars will go to the post for their race Sunday at 11 a.m. The trucks race will start at 2 p.m. - Norris McDonald
I was offered the opportunity earlier today to tour the hauler for the No. 3 Richard Childress Racing entry piloted by Ty Dillon.
These enormous rigs weigh in at approximately 65,000 pounds and log an awful lot of miles – they drive from the Childress shop in Welcome, North Carolina, to each race and back again, never traveling directly to the next event before returning to home base.
The team haulers are designed to be a shop away from the shop and carry the primary truck plus every conceivable piece of equipment that could be required to build a second one – a spare engine, frame, equipment, tools, and even backup sponsor decals – so that the team is perfectly prepared should a backup truck become needed during a race weekend.
The team that travels to the race weekends and works with this equipment is a dedicated road team and pit crew. A second full team remains at the shop and works on trucks two to three weeks in advance so that the haulers simply need to unload, reload, and head back out onto the open road. – Stephanie Wallcraft
Jeff Lapcevich won the pole position for the Canadian Tire Series race Sunday morning, the first pole in his Canadian Tire Series career. Andrew Ranger will start second, with L.P. Dumoulin third. J.R. Fitzpatrick will go off fourth with Jason Hathaway fifth, Scott Steckly sixth and Gary Klutt seventh. Martin Roy will go off eighth, with Peter Klutt ninth and Kerry Micks tenth.
The highest truck driver was Chad Hackenbracht, who will start 13th.
Lapcevich was thrilled with his run. “It was a real good run, I was happy with it,” he said. “We made some good adjustments in practice and we struggled with the way the car turned and the way it was driving off but we corrected that. It’s real racy and a fun car to drive.”
Asked if having four truck series drivers in the field, plus having the biggest crowd in 50 years on hand to watch, had put any added pressure on him, Lapcevich laughed and said: “I know it sounds like a cliche, but nobody puts as much pressure on me as myself. We want to win pretty bad. I drove my first road race here in 1987 so it would be great to win. As far as the crowd, I don’t think I’ve ever seen it this busy. I hope we can put on a good show for them.”
In the Canadian Touring Car Championship race held this afternoon, Jonathan Rashleigh was the overall winner, driving a Super Touring Hyundai Genesis Coupe. Damon Sharpe was the winner of Touring Class in a Honda Civic Si and Karl Wittmer won the B-Spec race in a Honda Fit. – Norris McDonald
A lucky few true NASCAR fans were treated to a rare opportunity at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park this afternoon. The Camping World Truck Series paddock is typically completely locked down, but when the series and the track noticed that fans here are used to the open access that the Canadian Tire Series and other series typically offer, they discussed it and decided to temporarily open the gates. For two hours this afternoon, 500 lucky fans had a chance to mingle freely and take in the atmosphere in the NCWTS paddock. Tours are offered at select events, but this is the first time this season that fully open access has been granted. – Stephanie Wallcraft
The Camping World Trucks are currently making their way through pre-qualifying inspection. The process of going from inspection through to the grid, the race, and back into the haulers afterward is highly involved and precise.
First, each truck has a series of templates applied to ensure that all measurements are compliant with NASCAR rules. Officials measure the rear and the spoiler, the distance between the spoiler and the cab, the cab itself, and the nose, and the templates that need to be unique to manufacturer are tracked with different colours to keep them visually distinct (Ford is blue, Chevrolet is yellow, and Toyota is orange, for the record).
The truck is then wheeled onto a riser where the truck’s overall height and ride height are checked and the weight is measured. Finally, the width of the wheel base is inspected.
Once the truck passes, it’s wheeled into line for qualifying.
After the run is complete, the truck goes directly back to the paddock and is put into impound — it must be either covered or loaded into the team hauler — and it cannot be adjusted in any way until an inspector is present to witness in the morning. There is a checklist of pre-race changes that the team is allowed to make, and then the trucks are wheeled out and gridded.
At the end of the race the template process is skipped, but the rest of the inspection is repeated on every competitor to ensure that no race time changes have put the trucks out of regulation. – Stephanie Wallcraft
It is only Saturday afternoon, which is practice day for the NASCAR Camping World and Canadian Tire series, and yet every single area of the property is jammed full of people. The fan zone near the paddock is buzzing with food, shopping, games and more. I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that this weekend sets overall attendance records in the history of Old Mosport. This is incredible! – Gary Grant
Afternoon trucks: Chase Elliott led the session, with Mike Skeen second and Germain Quiroga third. Not all trucks went out, as crews either were working to try to find more speed in anticipation of the upcoming qualifying or else were resting on their laurels and didn’t want to take a chance of an accident.
Miguel Paludo, James Buescher and Max Papis were positions four through six with Ty Dillon, Joey Coulter and Jeb Burton six through nine. Ross Chastain was in tenth.
Elliott, by the way, set a time of one minute, 21.045 seconds – 109.228 miles an hour.
The NASCAR trucks will qualify in groups of five – and there are six groups in total. First out will see Canadian Derek White joust it out with Jennifer Joe Cobb, Carl Long, Chris Lafferty and Norm Benning. They were the slowest in practice. The last group, which features the fastest drivers, will see Chase Elliott, Mike Skeen, Germain Quiroga, Ryan Blaney and Alex Guenette shoot for the pole.
The Canadian Tire Series had a final practice and Scott Steckly set the pace with a best time of 1:23:271 (106.308 mph). L.P. Dumoulin was second fastest and Jeff Lapcevich was third. J.R. Fitzpatrick, Andrew Ranger, Martin Roy, Jason Hathaway, Peter Klutt, D.J. Kennington and truck racer James Buescher rounded out the top ten. - Norris McDonald
Four-time NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion Ron Hornaday, Jr. met with the media during a break in on-track action.
It’s been 13 years since Hornaday last turned a racing truck right. “Unless you talk about Eldora,” Hornaday quipped, referring to the drift the NCWTS drivers battled during their race on that dirt track earlier this year.
Hornaday is impressed with Canadian Tire Motorsport Park and has been adjusting throughout the weekend to the challenge.
“This definitely is a fast, fast racetrack,” he says. “The only one that can really compare to it is Watkins Glen, going through the Esses.
“I found out you can’t charge the corners as hard as you normally do at Watkins Glen. Once I backed the corners up it definitely felt a lot better, and then we had to readjust the truck. It’s just a matter of driving style, how far you want to push it in the corners.
“We’ve still got some time to make up, but I think I know where it’s at and I think we’ve got the truck a lot better.”
Hornaday observed that the veteran drivers who have learned a bit more patience may be the ones to benefit here.
“There’s two different driving styles,” he says, “wild and crazy and throwing it around – and the track don’t like that – or being really smooth and trying to hit all your marks.”
Despite all the track time the trucks have had here this weekend, Hornaday feels there’s only so much one can benefit from practice.
“When the green flag drops,” Hornaday says, “all the stuff they learned in practice is not going to help them because it’s going to be three, four wide, everybody trying to fight and dive bomb everybody, trying to outbrake in every corner. From third on back, it’s going to be a war.”
Another adjustment Hornaday has needed to make is to learn the Canadian beer culture.
“We came up here for a test, and Wally Rogers [Hornaday’s crew chief] and I sat in one of your local pubs around here and had a barley pop as we call them. About my second one, I got up and said, I’m getting dizzy! I figured out your octane level is a little higher than ours. One beer is about all I can have out here.” – Stephanie Wallcraft
Turn 5; the hairpin; Moss Corner – it’s where champions are made. Being a day and a half into the weekend a visit was already long overdue, so I decided to make the trip over there to watch a portion of NASCAR Canadian Tire Series practice.
On my way, I walked through the upper paddock where things were hopping as the teams prepared the cars to head out to the track. The fan entertainment zones were already very busy, and the merchandise sellers were happy while making a relatively swift business for 10:30 AM on a Saturday.
As I steeled myself to begin the very long trek to the opposite side of the track, I saw a golf cart go by with a Canadian Tire logo on it. A young lady who was wearing a shirt that also had a Canadian Tire logo was standing nearby, so I asked her what was up. It turns out that Canadian Tire has arranged for a network of shuttles to carry fans to any point of the track they like. All they’re asking for in return is an optional donation to Jumpstart, the charity they’ve set up to help underprivileged children receive funding to take part in organized sporting programs. The shuttle saves time and a heck of a lot of walking, and it raises money for charity at the same time – there’s not a downside to be found.
This statement will be obvious to veterans of Old Mosport, but it bears repeating for the newbies: If you’re here for more than the beer and consider yourself a true fan of road racing, turn 5 is where you need to be.
I hiked up the clover-dusted hill to get the best possible view.
The cool morning air was making it difficult for some of the Canadian Tire Series drivers to find grip on the exit of the section portion of the turn. There were lots of little wiggles and a few bigger ones, and more than a handful of guys were creating a lot of smoke and otherwise being very hard on their tires.
But then Scott Steckly hits every apex and every mark with precision and grace every time through, and it quickly becomes apparent why he’s leading the series point standings.
(L.P. Dumoulin would likely take issue with that description, though, since he was the only driver who managed to post a lap faster than Steckly in the morning session.)
On the shuttle back to the paddock, I had a lovely chat with some serious NASCAR fans. Twins Ronnie and Lonnie Barber and their lovely wives Heather and Carol are visiting CTMP for the first time this weekend and were drawn by the Canadian NASCAR national series debut. Ron drove from Long Point last night and Lonnie came from Cambridge (and Ron made better time, which was a great source of joy and bragging rights for him).
When the two couples learned that NASCAR was coming to Canada, they were among the first people on the phone. They had their pick of camping spots and chose a trackside location on the outside of turn 1.
“We’ve been to Watkins Glen,” Ron told me, “but we were camped two miles away from the track. Here, we’re right next to it. We don’t have to go anywhere.”
They’ve been buying some food at the track concessions and grilling some of their own (Ron says he made a mean Mosport Burger this morning) while socializing and making new friends. I asked them if they got any sleep last night. “No!” they replied gleefully with grins on their faces. I’m not surprised. This whole place seems to be filled with a we’ll-sleep-when-we’re-dead type of crowd. – Stephanie Wallcraft
Gary Grant spent a few minutes with Mike Skeen to talk about his experience so far in the NASCAR trucks.
Here are some quick practice times for the Canadian Tire stock cars, the trucks and the Touring Cars.
L.P. Dumoulin was fastest in morning practice with a time of 1:24:210 (about three seconds slower than the trucks), which translates into a speed of 105.123 miles an hour. Two-time Canadian Tire champion Scott Steckly was second fastest and a surprising Alex Guenette finish third fastest (to go with his fourth fastest practice time in the trucks).
Andrew Ranger was fourth, J.R. Fitzpatrick was fifth, D.J. Kennington, the defending series champion, was sixth with Gary Klutt, Jason Hathaway, Peter Klutt and Jeff Lapcevich rounding out the top ten.
Ty Dillon was the fastest of the NASCAR truck racers who are using the Canadian Tire series to practice. He was 15th fastest. Chad Hackenbracht was 21st fastest, James Buescher was 22nd and Jeb Burton was 23rd.
A big surprise was 15-year-old Matthew Scannell, who has never raced on a road course before and is entering his first NASCAR race. He set 31st fastest time out of the 36 out on the speedway.
Matthew Scannell (left), his father Howie Scannell Jr. and team owner Jim Bray smile for the camera on Saturday morning – or try to. Matthew is the thid generation Scannell to go into automobile racing, with his grandfather, Howie Scannell, being one of the original late model and supermodified racers in the Toronto area. Howie Jr. has raced Bray cars in CASCAR and NASCAR for years. Matthew will attempt to make his first start in a NASCAR race on Sunday and it will be his first road race. “But that’s okay,” says his father. “He raced go-karts for eight years so he won’t have any trouble.” Jim Bray, of course, was the second Canadian to make the field for the Datona 500 back in the 1960s and remains active in the sport as a car owner. – Norris McDonald
Chase Elliott was fastest in Saturday morning practice for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series practice with a time of one minute, 21.063 seconds (109.204 miles an hour). Mike Skeen, who was fastest in both sessions Friday, was second fastest this morning at one minute, 21.414 seconds. Ryan Blaney, continuing his impressive performance in the trucks on a road course, was third quickest at 1:21:681.
In a major surprise, young Canadian Alex Guenette was fourth fastest followed by Miguel Paludo and Ty Dillon. Max Papis, Darrell Wallace Jr., Chad Hackenbracht and German Quiroga were the rest of the top ten.
Not much has been said about the crowd. The 2.549-mile circuit is completely surrounded – in some cases on both sides – by campers, motorhomes and tents as thousands have descended on Old Mosport. It is noon Saturday and it is easy to suggest that more people are here now than were on site for the American Le Mans Series on race day. If the weather holds, Sunday could see a record crowd. – Norris McDonald
G1 Racing has swept the front row for the Canadian Touring Car Championship race later today, with Bob Attrell claiming pole and being joined by teammate Jonathan Rashleigh on the front row. The top qualifier in the Touring class was Damon Sharpe, who will start 11th. The full results are listed below.
Early in the morning Camping World Truck Series practice session, Ron Hornaday had a spin on the front straight but got turned around and back under way without incident. And at about halfway through, the yellow flag came out for Chad Hackenbracht, who stalled in turn 6. We’re still seeing spots of sprinkles as truck practice continues. – Stephanie Wallcraft
Yesterday afternoon before the rain, I had a chance to get out and explore some of the fan areas here at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park. I have to say that I am beyond impressed. The newly landscaped camping areas near turns two and three are simply packed with RVs. Over on the outfield near the Mario Andretti straight, there is a mix of old and new. The campers are lined up like cord wood and the wooded area is full of tents. Many people don’t realize that there is camping in the trees to the west of the track, but it is packed. I haven’t seen this many people camping over in that space since the 1984 Group C 24 hour race.
Back in those days, that was a bit of a wild area, but today it is full of smiling children and quite literally happy campers.
Another thing I noticed in my travels is that there are fewer American license plates than I expected to see. A huge percentage of the fans here are from Ontario, which means good things for the promoters and for Canadian Tire. Gary Grant
Good morning from Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, where a grey and misty morning has revealed evidence of an overnight deluge. Campers are mopping up rain water from every surface as they prepare to make breakfast and take in the Canadian Touring Car Championship qualifying session, which just got under way.
If you’re at the track and you see any tent campers, give them a fist bump. They’re proving their mettle and their dedication to their beloved sport by soldiering through the weather this weekend.
The CTCC and NASCAR Canadian Tire Series paddocks have appeared almost as though out of thin air and are already hopping. As I walked through the paddock at about 8:15 this morning, there was a line-up of stock cars waiting to go through tech inspection while tools were being unloaded and awnings snapped into place.
The Touring Cars rolled off the trucks and straight into qualifying for their first race, which starts at 3:00 PM today and will be the only race of today’s festivities. Here’s the full schedule for Saturday at the Chevrolet Silverado 250:
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
And here’s a link back to wheels.ca’s live blog from Friday’s practice day for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.
We’ll be back on it with live updates throughout today’s events. Please bookmark us and check back in for the latest news and observations from Canadian Tire Motorsport Park all day long. – Stephanie Wallcraft