With a bit of rain in the forecast and his uncanny ability to find speed in the wet, road racing veteran Ron Fellows might be well-advised to reconsider his decision to sit out the inaugural NASCAR truck series race in Canada.
Although the 53-year-old seriously considered the idea of entering the first-ever NASCAR Camping World Series race in Canada, he decided to take a pass and concentrate on his duties as co-owner of the Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (CTMP) venue for Sunday’s Chevrolet Silverado 250.
“Yeah, I thought about entering – there were a few opportunities to race, but I just didn’t feel like it’s the right thing to do,” said the Mississauga, Ont., driver.
“I’ve got more races behind me than in front of me, and it seemed like that inside the weekend I’d probably be thinking more about things relative to the promoter side of it rather than the racer side of it, so that was a relatively easy decision to make. And let’s see what some of these young guns can do.”
Asked if he would consider starting the race if the predicted wet weather arrived, Fellows the race promoter simply replied: “It’s not going to rain.”
When the NASCAR trucks hit the 10-turn, 3.957-kilometre road course in Bowmanville, Ont. for the first time on Friday, it will mark the series’ first road course action in 13 years. The last time the trucks raced on a road course was at the famed Watkins Glen International in northern New York in 2000.
The victor in the late June 2000 New York race was future NASCAR Sprint Cup star Greg Biffle, who went on to win the truck title that year. Another future Cup star, Kurt Busch, was second with Fellows third.
In addition to the third place finish in 2000, Fellows has two wins in his four career truck starts, a fact that would make him an instant favourite for the victory – rain or shine – on the track that was the scene of many of his career firsts.
Should the showers arrive, the trucks will run Sunday’s race on rain tires unless it’s a torrential downpour, something that would likely give Fellows a huge advantage over the rest of the field. Let’s remember that the first ever NASCAR-sanctioned race in the rain – the 2008 Nationwide NAPA 200 in Montreal – was won by none other than Fellows.
With the Canadian taking a back seat, one driver to watch on the weekend could be three-time NASCAR Mexico Series champion Germán Quiroga, who races the No. 77 Tundra for Red Horse Racing and has considerable experience on road courses.
The truck series rookie also wouldn’t mind a few sprinkles on Sunday.
“If it rains it’s going to be more fun,” said Quiroga who has two top-10 finishes, one pole this season and lies 14th in points after 13 of 22 races.
“I love racing in the rain, so hopefully it rains but, if not we’re going to have fun. It’s going to be our first experience on road courses with these trucks. We tested already. We seem to be very good, so hopefully we can get a little bit more and then we can make it happen.”
Ironically, a handful of the Chevrolet drivers in the field will owe Fellows a thank you after the race on Sunday, especially if one of them takes home the win.
The veteran road racer invited a few of the Chevy drivers for some lessons at the Ron Fellows High Performance Driving School near Las Vegas in May to help them get prepared for the race on Sunday.
“They did tremendously well,” Fellows said.
“It takes a good day to kind of get a feel for it, but I was there both days and just came away super impressed.
While the truck racers will be looking to make an impression, the weekend also promises to be a big one for CTMP, Fellows and his partner, real estate developer Carlo Fidani.
The pair has made massive improvements to the facility since buying the track two years ago from Don Panoz. There have been major upgrades to the pitlane and the paddock areas, a new 30,000 square foot event centre built on the start-finish straight, and a tunnel under the track for transporters, as well as improvements at several corners.
There’s also no doubt that the trucks would not be racing in Bowmanville without the investments made by the new owners.
And with the NASCAR Nationwide Series race in Montreal disappearing from the schedule this year after the promoter could not come to terms with the series, a successful truck weekend just might lead to bigger and better things for the track.
“It’s really not our call,” Fellows said when asked about the possibility of more NASCAR road races at his track.
“We’ve come a long way when you look at the facility. To be honest with you: Absolutely, we want to continue to grow.”
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