The Frontstretch: Truckin' Thursdays: Favorites Heading Into the Unknown At Mosport by Beth Lunkenheimer -- Thursday August 29, 2013

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Truckin' Thursdays: Favorites Heading Into the Unknown At Mosport

Beth Lunkenheimer · Thursday August 29, 2013

 

This weekend, the Camping World Truck Series will once again make history as it descends on Canadian Tire Motorsports Park. It began with the visit to Eldora Speedway last month, the series’ first ever dirt race, and now drivers are headed off the first international race.

So what can we realistically expect this weekend? That’s actually a very difficult question to answer, especially considering that most people were completely wrong about Eldora. Remember how many people—myself included—expected a wreck-fest? Instead, the drivers showcased their talent and the reason they all race in NASCAR.

But with all of that said, there are a few drivers that stand out.

First and foremost, you have to look at competitors like Alex Guenette, Martin Roy and Mike Skeen, who have all raced at Mosport in the past and are familiar with the track layout. While they will find themselves at a bit of a disadvantage learning the trucks, I’d argue that knowing the track layout is easier since they’ll be focused on just adapting to how the trucks handle. Of course that’s not to say it’s easy to learn to handle a truck by any means. Though he’s just a rookie in the Canadian Tire Series, Guenette is quite optimistic fans will enjoy Sunday afternoon’s event.

Ron Hornaday is the only driver in the field to have raced a Camping World Truck on a road course. Unfortunately for him, that was 13 years ago.

“They will love the track. It is fast, a track with flow. The owners have invested a lot of money to improve everything,” said Guenette. “It is a mix between Watkins Glen and Road Atlanta. The TV show should also be super for the fans with many different corners and passing zones. I am sure this will become a classic year after year.”

But despite their lack of time at Mosport, there are a few Truck Series regulars that stand out among their competitors. Ron Hornaday, Jr. has run road course races in a truck in the past, and the veteran has long shown that he can adapt pretty quickly when it comes to a new situation. In what one could only call a dismal season for the four-time champion, Hornaday struggled mightily in the first year with Joe Denette Motorsports, however a merger with NTS Motorsports during the off-season appears to be just the recipe for success. Though Hornaday and the No. 9 team have yet to find victory lane this season, it’s become a more common practice for the veteran to move forward in the field, rather than backward. He’s definitely one to watch this weekend.

Hornaday isn’t the only driver with road course experience, though. When Miguel Paludo came to the US in 2010, the oval races he ran were some of the first in his career. His earlier years in racing centered around road courses, and it’s hard for him to not come in excited and hopeful of what the weekend might bring.

“There is no doubt that this is the one I’ve been waiting for all year. The No. 32 team and I have been strong every single week, but there isn’t anywhere I feel more at home than a road course. My career was built on road courses,” Paludo said. “I love NASCAR and I love racing ovals now, but every win I’ve ever gotten, every championship I’ve won, has all been road-course racing. I’m so excited to have an opportunity to do this style of racing in a truck. I visited the track earlier in the season when they held the test, and even though I didn’t get to drive it in a truck, I got to know the track and fell in love with it. This will be so much fun.”

Miguel Paludo won two championships in the Porsche GT3 series, and given his recent run of top-10 finishes, he may be the one to beat this weekend at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park.

Joining Paludo and Hornaday with a wealth of road course experience is German Quiroga. Having raced in the NASCAR Mexico Series and joined teammates Timothy Peters and Jon Wes Townley at Bondurant driving school in Phoenix in June, Quiroga has done plenty of turning left in his career, however he isn’t taking that experience for granted.

“I think the race will be equal for everyone because it’s the first time the Truck Series will be at the track,” Quiroga said. “I would say that I might have a small advantage because of my experience in the Mexico Series — I’m certainly not at a disadvantage by any means. Hopefully we will use that and put our No. 77 OtterBox Toyota Tundra in contention for the win.

And of course you can’t count out guys like James Buescher, Jeb Burton, and Ty Dillon either. While none of the trio has a whole lot of road course experience, all three will be running in the Canadian Tire Series race before the Truck Series takes the green flag. That track time, in addition to the extended practice sessions, could be just what they need to familiarize themselves with the circuit during racing conditions, while giving them an advantage over their fellow competitors.

While this weekend’s race remains as a wild card on the schedule, it’s sure to be an exciting return to road course racing. I know there are some fans that don’t enjoy this type of track, however the strategies involved help to put the race more in the drivers’ hands. Sure, the teams and crews fill a substantial piece of the puzzle—after all, these guys wouldn’t be racing without their support at the track and back at home—but with more of the race in the drivers’ hands, you can likely expect some beating, banging and even hurt feelings. But that’s the beauty of Truck Series racing.

Miguel’s Corner

Tweet of the Week

@miguelpaludo: Big week and weekend coming up for us. I’ve been waiting to race trucks on a road course since I came here in 2010.

@PatiSouzaPaludo: Miley who?? Oli’s performance is way better then hers! #vma http://instagram.com/p/dhzopTPcF6/

Photo of the Week:

Photo courtesy Patricia Paludo.

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