Several months ago, in a private email to a friend, I indicated I wasn’t getting too terribly excited at the prospect of NASCAR Camping World Series truck race at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.
He wrote back and said this (I killed the email, so this is a paraphrase):
“You are mistaken if you think that way. The truck series is great entertainment and is where many of the future stars of NASCAR are starting out. The racing features a take-no-prisoners style and I expect – if they come – that they’ll put on a terrific show.”
I wrote him back and said I’d take a closer look – which I did, and I’m now caught up in the excitement of the championship battle.
Let me rush to say here that there has been no announcement about any of this happening. It's still all conjecture. But there's definitely something going on between NASCAR and Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, so I think this entry is timely.
Tuesday afternoon, Erik Arneson, who’s vice-president of media relations for the Speed network, sent out a release pointing out that with four races remaining, rookie Ty Dillon (who’s the grandson of team owner Richard Childress) leads James Buescher by exactly one point, making it the closest points race in series history at this time of the season.
Those five drivers all have a shot at the title (unlike those racing in the Sprint Cup Chase for the Championship - Matt Kenseth won the race on Sunday and is still last in the standings and how can that happen?) and anybody with the Speed Channel in their cable lineup can watch it all go down to the wire, starting Oct. 27 at Martinsville and continuing Nov. 2 at Texas, Nov. 9 at Phoenix and Nov. 16 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Here’s another reason I think the trucks would be a good curtain-raiser for NASCAR at Old Mosport: some of Canada’s young stock car chargers could line up some rides.
I suggest J.R. Fitzpatrick of Cambridge would be a natural (he’s raced in the truck series previously and done extremely well), as would Andrew Ranger of Roxton Pond., Que.
And it might be fun to see sponsor Castrol Edge arrange a ride for two-time NASCAR Canadian Tire Series champion D.J. Kennington of St. Thomas.
Any of them would be able to give the Dillons, the Bueschers, the Peters’, the Kligermans and the Coulters a run for their money.
And it just might happen. As CTMP co-owner Ron Fellows said at the weekend, it's going to be an exciting next couple of weeks.
So stay tuned.
One more thing about NASCAR. The Sprint Cup drivers are grumbling about having to race at restrictor-plate tracks like Talladega and some commentators are suggesting the drivers could avoid the carnage if they didn't drive as aggressively.
Everybody in NASCAR has been lulled into a false sense of security. What happened on Sunday in Alabama happens all the time in NASCAR and yet, once again, everybody walked away.
As a friend of mine wrote in a private email, if that accident had happened a little further along the track and one of those cars had gone through the fence and into the crowd, it would have been the disaster of disasters.
And if one of the stars of that series, a Jimmie Johnson or a Jeff Gordon or (in 2013) a Danica Patrick, is killed one of these times, the sport will suffer a huge setback. Don't believe me? Look at the reaction after Dan Wheldon was killed at Las Vegas. The title sponsor of that series wants out, that's what.
That is what NASCAR has to think about very carefully.
Yes, the fans like the "big ones." But if there's a disaster, how will the sponsors and the TV networks react?
In the end, they - not the fans - are who count.