DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (June 17, 2013) – He’s been nosing around it for a while and Steve Mathews feels it’s time to take the next step.
Mathews splashed onto the scene in 2009 in his NASCAR Canadian Tire Series presented by Mobil 1 debut at the Speedway at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in Bowmanville, Ontario by setting fast time in practice and the race results showed it wasn’t a stab in the dark. After qualifying fourth, the now 22-year-old out of New Liskeard, Ontario finished sixth to prove that he could compete with Canada’s best stock-car competitors.
In three subsequent races on that same half-mile oval Mathews has driven his No. 15 Bill Mathews Motors Ford to two more top-10 finishes and a start from the outside pole position a year ago in the Clarington 200.
After 22 series starts – primarily on ovals – across five seasons now, Mathews, who scored a series career-best finish of third on June 15 at Delaware (Ontario) Speedway, has three top-five finishes and two pole wins. While not an indictment on his performance Mathews notes the glaring lack of a victory. Considering the competition, it’s not a huge red flag, but he thinks it’s past time to go to Victory Lane. Further whetting his appetite for a win was last September’s battle at Barrie (Ontario) Speedway. Mathews started from the pole position and had a late-race lead before tangling with some traffic resulting in a disappointing finish in fourth.
“I really thought we had that one, but it didn’t work out,” said Mathews. “When you get that close it makes you want it even more. I have no doubt that we’ll get there. We have a solid team.”
Cutting his racing teeth on the half-mile oval at Delaware, Mathews believes the two Ontario tracks are similar enough for the experience to transfer.
“I began my career at Delaware and the two tracks are fairly similar,” he said. “We run the same gear and the setups are pretty close. There are a few differences between the two (tracks), but I feel comfortable there.”
The relatively flat egg-shaped oval at CTMP creates some setup problems for race teams, but Mathews enjoys competing there.
“I like that track,” he stated. “It can be a little tricky, but everyone knows it well and will be ready for the race. I don’t expect anyone to be surprised.”
The stakes for the Clarington 200 were raised last week with Canadian Tire Motorsport Park’s announcement that they will cease operation of the oval track later this summer to continue the ongoing renovation of the facility by the new ownership group that came onboard in 2011.
“I absolutely would love to win the last Canadian Tire Series race there,” declared Mathews.
Race: Clarington 200
Place: Speedway at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park
Date: Saturday, June 22
Time: 7 p.m. ET
TV Schedule: TSN, Sun., June 30, 1 p.m. ET; RDS2, Fri., July 9, 11 p.m. ET
Track Layout: Half-mile paved oval
2012 Winner: D.J. Kennington
2012 Pole Sitter: Pete Shepherd III
Event Schedule: Practice 1-1:30 p.m.; Final Practice 2-2:30 p.m.; Qualifying 5:10 p.m.; Driver Autograph Session 5:45 p.m..; Opening Ceremonies 6:30 p.m.
Track Contact: Ryan Chalmers, (905) 983-9141, email@example.com
Track Twitter: @CTMPOfficial
Event Twitter Hashtag: #Clarington200
NASCAR IMC Contact: Jason Christley, (386) 547-2469 or firstname.lastname@example.org, Twitter: @jay_christley
The Race: This is the third event of the 2013 season for the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series presented by Mobil 1 and the second of eight oval-track events on the schedule. This is the series’ seventh time to the oval at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.
The Procedure: The starting field is 24 cars, including provisionals. The first 21 cars will qualify through two-lap time trials. The remaining three spots will be awarded through the provisional process. The race will be 200 laps covering 100 miles.
The Track: The Speedway at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, formerly known as Mosport Speedway, is part of Canada’s largest motorsports complex. The 750-acre, multi-track facility is located within the Greater Toronto Area, north of Bowmanville, Ont. CTMP also features the 2.459-mile road course, a 2.4-kilometer advanced driver and race driver training facility and a 1.4-kilometer karting track. The facility opened in 1961 and has hosted stock car, Formula 1 and IndyCar events over the years. Canadian Tire acquired the naming rights to the facility earlier this year.
The Records: The single-lap qualifying record is held by Pete Shepherd III of 21.517 seconds (83.655 mph) was set on June 16, 2012. The 200-lap race record was established on May 28, 2011 by Scott Steckly at 1 hour, 30 minutes, 21 seconds for an average speed of 66.740 mph.
So Long: The Clarington 200 will be the final NASCAR Canadian Tire Series event on the half-mile oval at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park. The management team for the venue announced earlier this month that it will be closing the oval track to make way for an expanded driver development course. The track has hosted a race every year since the series’ inception in 2007. The Canadian Tire Series will continue to visit the 2.459-mile road course and looks forward to the Sept. 1 shared date with the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series on the iconic road circuit.
Big Night: Scott Steckly needs a solid performance in the Clarington 200. Two events into the 2013 campaign finds the two-time series champion down 36 points in the standings to leader D.J. Kennington. Steckly finished 24th in the season opener after an early-race crash and 21st at Delaware Speedway due to mechanical problems.
Same, But Different: It’s certainly not new to see Kennington atop the season standings, but he got there without the benefit of a victory. A season ago, Kennington established a series record with seven wins. Consistency has been the name of the game so far for the defending champion with a pair of fourth-place efforts with just two of 12 races in the books.
Equal Opportunity: After six Canadian Tire Series events each of the three series manufacturers – Chevrolet, Dodge and Ford – have been to Victory Lane twice. Don Thomson Jr. took Chevy in 2007 and 2010. Kerry Micks (2008) and Andrew Ranger (2009) drove Fords to the win. And Steckly (2011) and Kennington (2012) took Dodge to the winner’s circle in each of the last two years.
LAST TIME OUT: EMCO 200
Good Numbers: With his victory at Delaware Speedway Pete Shepherd III has four wins in his last 13 Canadian Tire Series outings dating back to his first triumph in the 2010 season finale at Kawartha Speedway.
Rolling Along: With a sixth-place finish at Delaware, 20-year-old Noel Dowler continued his progression and maturation as a stock-car driver. The second-generation driver out of Sherwood Park, Alberta has top-10 finishes in four of his last five starts.
High-Water Marks: At Delaware Speedway, Larry Jackson, Hugo Vannini and Dave Connelly each established new marks for best finish in a Canadian Tire Series event. Jackson finished seventh followed by Vannini and Connelly in eighth and ninth, respectively. It was the first career top 10 for Vannini.
Growing Pains: Alex Guenette has been impressive in his first two series events. In the season opener on the road course at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park the 17-year-old grabbed attention with solid practice and qualifying speeds, but an engine problem derailed his chances in the race. In the EMCO 200, the youngster spent several laps in the lead pack, but a Lap 158 accident brought another early departure.
NEXT TIME OUT: Jiffy Lube 100 presented by Snap-on
The NASCAR Canadian Tire Series presented by Mobil 1 makes the first of its three journeys to Quebec this season for the Jiffy Lube 100 presented by Snap-on on July 6-7 at Circuit ICAR in Mirabel. The date is also the second of four road-course events on the 2013 slate. Last season, Andrew Ranger flexed his road-course muscle to claim the victory.