DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Aug. 5, 2013) – Rookie seasons almost always have bumps, but Alex Guenette has handled them with apparent ease.
As a 17-year-old competing in the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series presented by Mobil 1 for the first time this season, the Terrebonne, Que., driver is rounding into shape as the season heads for the homestretch.
“Coming from the karting world, the most difficult adjustment has been the weight of the cars,” said the driver of the No. 39 Motos Illimitées/DLGL Dodge. “Getting used to the braking points and getting the car to turn is something I’ve worked really hard at.”
Guenette is tied with Ryley Seibert (No. 09 Lake Excavating/Emco Waterworks Dodge) in the series’ rookie-of-the-year standings, but Seibert currently holds the advantage since he leads Guenette by two points in the championship driver standings which serves as the tiebreaker in that competition.
Coming off a season-best finish of second on July 27 at Autodrome St. Eustache (Que.) has Guenette filled with confidence heading into the JuliaWine.com 100 – the feature event for the 44th annual Grand Prix de Trois-Rivieres.
“We had some bad luck to start the season, but my team has worked really hard on the car and I think we’re in pretty good shape,” he said.
With a star-studded field at Trois-Rivieres that includes Jacques Villeneuve, Alex Tagliani and Andrew Ranger and a crowd expected to be in excess of 30,000 fans, the youngster vows to remain focused on the job at hand at a track he has never before raced.
“I can’t get caught up in all of that stuff,” said Guenette. “Those guys are just racing for the win. I am, too, but I have to keep the point standings in the back of my mind. All of these tracks are new to me and I have to concentrate on my job and not worry about all of that other stuff.”
Coming from a karting background, a seamless transition into the road-course events is the norm, but getting up to speed on the ovals often is more problematic. That evolution looks to be complete for Guenette as he has top-10 finishes in two of this last three oval events and an 11-th place finish in the other against some of the most veteran short-track racers Canada has to offer.
“I love road-course racing and I thought I would definitely prefer it over the ovals, but I’m really enjoying the ovals,” he said. “I’ve learned so much this year.”
Guenette gives the lion’s share of the credit for his progression to car owner and spotter Dave Jacombs, who helped transform Ranger from an open-wheel racer to a two-time series champion.
“Dave keeps me so calm on the radio,” Guenette said. “He coaches me and reminds me of things all of the time. I’d be pretty lost without him.”
Race: JuliaWine.com 100
Place: Circuit de Trois-Rivieres (Que.)
Date: Sunday, Aug. 11
Time: 3:30 p.m. ET
TV Schedule: RDS2, Sun., Aug. 11, 3 p.m. ET (LIVE); TSN, Sun., Aug. 4, 4:30 p.m. ET
Track Layout: 1.530-mile road course
2012 Winner: Andrew Ranger
2012 Pole Sitter: Louis-Philippe Dumoulin
Event Schedule: Saturday: Practice 10:40-11:40 a.m.; Qualifying 5:15 p.m.; Sunday: On-Track Autograph Session 2 p.m.; Driver Introductions 3:12 p.m. ET
Track Contact: Eric D’Argenzio, (819) 370-4787, email@example.com
Track Twitter: @GP3R
Event Twitter Hashtag: #JuliaWine100
NASCAR IMC Contact: Shon Sbarra, (704) 309-5493 or firstname.lastname@example.org, Twitter: @ShonSbarra
The Race: This is the eighth event of the 2013 season for the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series presented by Mobil 1 and the third of four road course events on the schedule. This is the series’ seventh visit to the Grand Prix de Trois-Rivieres.
The Procedure: The starting field is 34 cars, including provisionals. The first 29 cars will qualify through NASCAR road race style group qualifying. There will be two qualifying groups based on practice times. The remaining five spots will be awarded through the provisional process. The race will be 42 laps covering 103 kilometers (64.26 miles).
The Track: The temporary street course of Circuit de Trois-Rivieres is an 11-turn, 1.53-mile circuit. In Trois-Rivieres – differing from many road-course tracks – the cars race in a counter-clockwise motion as on oval tracks. The track’s trademark is the Porte Duplessis, a narrow concrete gateway the cars pass through in Turn 3.
The Records: The one-lap qualifying record for the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series is 67.661 seconds (81.406 mph) set by Andrew Ranger on Aug. 6, 2011. The race record also is held by Andrew Ranger at 59 minutes, 24 seconds set on Aug. 15, 2010 for an average speed of 64.909 mph.
The History: The Grand Prix began in 1967 while racing-passionate members of the Club Autosport Mauricien decided to organize a race in the streets of the city. Inspired by the Monaco race, Mr. Jean E. Ryan, Leon Dufour and Yves Girard, plus a committee of about thirty people, organized the event that has now become a unique event in North America. It is the oldest street course in North America and this year is the 44th edition of the Grand Prix de Trois-Rivieres. Andrew Ranger has won four of the six previous Canadian Tire Series events with Robin Buck and Kerry Micks collecting the other two victories.
Homecoming: Quebec native and former Formula One and Indianapolis 500 champion Jacques Villeneuve (No. 24 Dodge Dealers of Quebec Dodge) will make his third career Canadian Tire Series start in a car out of Scott Steckly’s 22 Racing stable. Villeneuve recorded a fourth-place finish in 2009 at Trois-Rivieres.
Homecoming, Part 2: Former Indianapolis 500 pole sitter and current IZOD IndyCar Series star Alex Tagliani (No. 28 Dicom Express/EPIPEN/Sennheiser Dodge), who hails from Lachenaie, Que., will drive an entry fielded by D.J. Kennington’s DJK Racing. It will be Tagliani’s 16th career series start and first since 2011 in Montreal. He outdueled then teammate Ranger for the win in July 2008 in Edmonton, Alberta for his lone series victory.
Ranger Rules GP3R: Andrew Ranger (No. 27 La Cité de Mirabel Inc. Dodge) is the driver to beat a Trois-Rivieres. The two-time series champion has won four of the six races at the 1.53-mile Quebec road course. The other two races resulted in second place finishes to Kerry Micks (2007) and Robin Buck (2011). To pick up a fifth GP3R win, he’ll need to come from the back since he’ll likely miss qualifying due to competing in the NASCAR Nationwide Series event at Watkins Glen in New York.
Rolling Along: Points leader Scott Steckly (No. 22 Canadian Tire Dodge) brings a three-race winning streak into the JuliaWine.com 100 having won at Motoplex Speedway in Vernon, B.C., on July 13, Auto Clearing Motor Speedway in Saskatoon, Sask., on July 17 and Autodrome St. Eustache (Que.) on July 27. The Milverton, Ont., driver is the second competitor in series history to win as many as three consecutive races – D.J. Kennington (No. 17 Castrol Edge/Mahindra Tractors Dodge) won five straight a season ago.
Homeland: There could be as many as 16 Quebec drivers entered in the JuliaWine.com 100. Last season, Quebecers swept the marquee positions with Ranger winning the race and Trois-Rivieres native Louis-Philippe Dumoulin (No. 47 WeatherTech Canada/Bellemare Dodge) earning his first series pole.
LAST TIME OUT: National 250 presented by Public Mobile
Full Steam Ahead: Scott Steckly collected his third consecutive NASCAR Canadian Tire Series victory at Autodrome St. Eustache (Quebec) and his third in five starts at the .4-mile oval. In the process, he took over the lead in the championship standings and leads Louis-Philippe Dumoulin (No. 47 WeatherTech Canada/Bellemare Dodge) by 10 points with five races remaining.
Looking Up: St. Eustache was good medicine for Ron Beauchamp Jr. (No. 60 Mopar/Exide/Pennzoil Dodge) and Jason White (No. 21 Bowers & Wilkins Dodge), as both were overdue for a good result. Beauchamp won his fifth career pole position and scored a season-best finish of fourth while White recorded his first top-five finish of the season with a finish in the fifth position.
Evenly Matched: Steckly led a race-high 54 laps on his way to the win, but a quartet of drivers led a similar number of laps in the event. Martin Roy (No. 90 Batteries Expert/Veloce Dodge) paced the field for 52 laps while J.R. Fitzpatrick (No. 84 Equipment Express Chevrolet) was out front for 51 circuits. Beauchamp led for 50 laps after starting from the pole and Jason Hathaway (No 3 Snap-on Tools/Rockstar Energy Drink Dodge) spent 43 laps on the point.
NEXT TIME OUT: Wilson Equipment 300 Supporting Red Cross Disaster Relief
The NASCAR Canadian Tire Series presented by Mobil 1 heads to its easternmost outpost for the next event. Riverside International Speedway in Antigonish, N.S., will host the Wilson Equipment 300 Supporting Red Cross Disaster Relief on Saturday, Aug. 17. This event has a new date this year having been held in September since the series first visited the track in its inaugural season of 2007. A year ago, D.J. Kennington picked up his sixth win of the season en route to his second Canadian Tire Series title.