Steckly Stays The Course
People do what they know best and it often serves them well. For Scott Steckly, those are words by which to live and win.
Steckly (No. 22 Canadian Tire Jumpstart Dodge), the 2008 NASCAR Canadian Tire Series presented by Mobil 1 champion, likes to keep things as simple as possible. He and his team don’t make drastic changes to the car if practice times are not where they like. They make incremental changes to the things that they know work. In fact, they also are doing things exactly as they did in their championship season. However, it’s a little different game these days.
In 2008, the Milverton, Ont., driver won four times over an 11-race span. Since then, he’s won just twice in his last 18 starts.
“Every team has stepped up their game in the last year or so,” he said. “It’s no harder for us than anybody else. It’s hard for anyone to win these races. Very little separates all of us. You have to do your homework and get some good fortune to win a race in this series.”
One race that Steckly has yet to win, and wants to badly, is a road-course event. In 2008, he finished second in three of the four road contests.
“We put a focus on road courses in 2008 and spent a lot of time working on that part of the program. It’s critical in this series to have a solid road-race program,” he said. “We got close to winning, but it never quite worked out for us. I think we’ll get one soon, though.”
Real soon could be real good as the Canadian Tire Series makes its inaugural visit to Toronto to participate in the Honda Indy Toronto. The race, along with the hood of Steckly’s Dodge Avenger, will bear the Canadian Tire Jumpstart program.
“It would be nice to get that first one in Toronto with Canadian Tire so heavily involved in the event,” he said.
While it is the series’ first trip to Toronto, it is not a first-time event for many of the competitors, who were part of several CASCAR Super Series events in Canada’s largest market.
Event though it has been a few years, Steckly vividly recalls the track made up of the streets surrounding Exhibition Place, west of downtown Toronto.
“I remember it well. It’s fast, but has its tight sections,” Steckly stated. “The passing areas, like most road courses, come in the braking zones. It’s a fun track to drive because it has both speed and technical portions.”
He has looked forward to the event since the return to Toronto was announced last November.
“I’m kind of anxious to see how this turns out. The field is full of some pretty good road racers,” he said. “It is certainly going to be a great show whether we win or not.”
The Race: Jumpstart 100
The Place: Toronto (Ont.) Exhibition Place
The Date: Saturday, July 17
The Time: 2:45 p.m. ET
The Distance: 35 laps / 61.4 miles
Race Purse: $81,450 CAD
TV Schedule: TSN, July 17, 2:30 p.m. ET (LIVE)
2009 Winner: Inaugural Event
2009 Polesitter: Inaugural Event
Schedule: Friday, Practice 12:30 - 1:30 p.m.; Qualifying 4:30 p.m.
More On The Line For Fitzpatrick
As winner of the last two NASCAR Canadian Tire Series presented by Mobil 1 road-course races, JR Fitzpatrick (No. 84 Schick Hydro Chevrolet), racing out of Cambridge, Ont., has demonstrated quite a penchant for making left and right-handed turns after cutting his teeth on the short tracks of Ontario.
In Toronto, the opportunity to extend that road winning streak won’t be an easy proposition. In addition to Fitzpatrick and his four series road-course victories, the field includes Andrew Ranger (No. 27 Dodge Dealers of Quebec Dodge) and Jason Bowles (No. 11 Triad Racing Technologies Dodge), who bring another 11 NASCAR Developmental Series wins on road courses to the table. Not to mention the cast of usual characters in the Canadian Tire Series.
Ranger (Canadian Tire Series) and Bowles (K&N Pro Series West), both reigning NASCAR champions, would love to add another notch to their belt. Undoubtedly, Fitzpatrick, currently second in the championship points standings, would, as well, but he is currently competing for the points championship in the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series and must keep the big picture in mind.
“They’re coming in to win the race—nothing else,” Fitzpatrick said. “I want to win, too, but I’m also here to win the championship. It’s a pretty fine line, but one that I have to see and it won’t be easy. I race to win.”
Toronto News & Notes
The Race: This event is the fourth of 13 races on the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series presented by Mobil 1 schedule and the second of five road-course events. This is the series’ inaugural event in Toronto.
The Procedure: The starting field is 32 cars, including provisionals. The first 27 cars will qualify through NASCAR road race style 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 35 laps covering just over 100 kilometers (61.4 miles).
The Track: The 11-turn, 1.765-mile temporary road course is set up on the streets of Toronto’s Exhibition Place, a unique site situated along the shores of Lake Ontario immediately west of downtown Toronto. Exhibition Place is home to more than 100 special events and trade and consumer shows annually.
The History: Originally known as the Molson Toronto Indy, the event dates back to 1986 at the Exhibition Place site. The CASCAR Super Series, predecessor to the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series, was a regular support series at the event.
The Race Name: As a partner to both the series and the Honda Indy Toronto, the Canadian Tire Corporation has chosen to raise awareness for its Jumpstart foundation. Canadian Tire Jumpstart is a community-based charitable program that helps kids aged 4-18 participate in organized sports and recreation, such as hockey, dance, soccer and swimming, to develop important life skills, self-esteem and confidence.
Full Weekend: Joining the Indy Car Series, Indy Lights and NASCAR Canadian Tire Series is the Acura Sports Car Challenge, Castrol Touring Car Championship and the SCCA Pro Racing Trans-Am Series.
Live Television: TSN and TSN HD will carry live coverage of the Jumpstart 100 beginning on Saturday, July 17 at 2:30 p.m. ET. It is the first of two live telecasts for the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series in 2010 with the second coming on Sunday, Aug. 29 at Montreal’s Circuit Gilles Villeneuve just prior to the NASCAR Nationwide Series event.