The 10th race of the 2012 NASCAR Canadian Tire Series schedule (NCATS) takes the stars of the NCATS to the 0.333 mile paved oval known as Barrie Speedway. The tight quarters of the short track that many of these drivers grew up racing at have always provoked close and exciting racing.
Last year’s race featured an incident on the last lap between Kerry Micks and J.R. Fitzpatrick, allowing Mark Dilley to get past them both to take the victory.
Two of the three drivers – Fitzpatrick and Dilley – return to Barrie Speedway this season to look for victory once again. Micks will not be running the race as he is only running the road course events this season.
Fitzpatrick finished ninth last year at Barrie and has a career best finish of fifth. The Cambridge, Ontario native has been consistent when it comes to Barrie, scoring four top 10s in six starts and leading a total of 98 laps. He currently sits third in points, 35 points behind points leader D.J. Kennington.
[media-credit id=4 align=”alignleft” width=”266″][/media-credit]Meanwhile, Dilley has a pair of second place finishes to go with last year’s victory. The 1992 track champion has finished in the top five in four of his seven Canadian Tire Series starts on the .333-mile oval. Dilley competed in the Gary Reynolds Memorial 100-lap Late Model Invitational at Barrie near the end of August and was running in the top five before an engine failure took him out of the event.
Though well Dilley and Fitzpatrick come in Barrie on happy terms due to past success, it’s this season’s success that has Kennington excited. The NCATS has ran four oval events this year – Canadian Tire Motorsports Park, Saskatoon, Delaware and Vernon – and Kennington has been victorious in each of them. He comes into Barrie leading the points standings, 33 points ahead of Andrew Ranger.
“We’ve fared pretty well on the ovals this year and have been able to build a points lead,” Kennington said in the NASCAR Home Tracks preview. “I don’t take anything for granted, though.”
The St. Thomas, Ontario native has good reason to not take anything for granted considering anything and everything is possible with how tight Barrie is and how physical the racing can get.
“Just like a lot of short tracks it’s all about track position and survival,” Kennington added. “You have to keep your emotions in check because[media-credit id=4 align=”alignright” width=”150″][/media-credit] people are hitting you from every angle. There’s lots of stuff going on and you have to keep your mind on the job.”
Kennington has been successful at Barrie Speedway in the past, scoring three victories over the year. He is expected to be in contention by many as his worst finish at Barrie in seven starts is a 10th that came in 2009. Though, right now, it’s all about keeping the points lead and continuing the consistency that has carried to him to 11 straight top five finishes.
Besides Kennington and Dilley, Scott Steckly and Don Thomson Jr. have also scored victories at Barrie Speedway. Thomson Jr. will be on the pit box for Fitzpatrick, while Steckly will behind the wheel of his familiar No. 22 Canadian Tire Dodge. The defending series champion didn’t score a good finish last year as he finished 14th, though won both 2008 visits to Barrie. Steckly has had success at his home track before, scoring five top five finishes in seven starts.
The driver that currently sits second in points – Andrew Ranger – has no wins at Barrie Speedway and will be making his first start on the oval since 2009. In that race back in 2009, he finished ninth. He has done consistently well on the .333-mile oval, scoring four top 10 finishes in five Barrie starts with a best finish of fifth in 2007.
The race is set to take place on Saturday night, however with rain expected to fall all day, Barrie Speedway has already announced that if need be, they will run the race on Sunday.