Ruined by blown engine
A blown engine late in the race brought his charge to an end, but not before his performance had been noticed by the crowd as well as by the media and on live North America-wide TV coverage.
Alex Guénette was facing a tall order this past weekend at the Canadian Tire Motorsport Park: race in the tenth round of the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series and a few hours later, racing in his first-ever NASCAR Camping World Truck Series event aboard his Sport Chek/Motos Illimitées/DLGL Chevrolet truck. Changing back and forth between two very different race vehicles, one with 200 more horsepower and an extra 500 pounds of weight than the other, on a very high speed track, was a challenge that Alex stepped up to magnificently, never putting a wheel wrong as he made his way into contention in both races.
A full day of testing on the Friday gave Alex a chance to familiarise himself with the race truck, and allowed the team to adjust the truck to Alex’s style and pace as he went faster and faster over the day. In fact, Alex did put in the 4th quickest lap in the third and quickest of the four sessions, ahead of most of the leaders in the category. This speed meant that Alex got to qualify in the Top-5 group of racers, an exceptional performance for a first-timer in that category.
Qualifying was tight and all of the seasoned veterans found an extra second over their previous best time. Alex also managed a quick lap but was a little surprised by the pace of the series veterans. “The speed of these supposedly “oval racers” on this difficult course is surprising. Everybody is quick, and I am learning a lot by watching how the quick guys do it. This is all good as I am really comfortable with the team, especially my Crew Chief, and every change we make works.”
Starting from 14th place, a mere 1.249 sec off pole position, Alex clawed his way past more experienced racers in front of him. The race was coming to him. “The truck was better than ever and I could lap at the same pace as the lead group, waiting for an error or passing other drivers outright.” Running with the leaders meant that Alex got excellent exposure on the live TV broadcast in Canada and the US.
Race strategy called for new tires virtually halfway in the race, later in fact than early changers who would have to stop again later to get better tires and finish the race with a quick car, or finish on slow, worn out tires. Caution periods then played into Alex’s hands. “On lap 45 of 64, I found myself with relatively fresh tires, in 9th place behind some slower cars and others who had to stop again for new tires or fuel to finish the race. I was in an ideal position to move up several spots for the finish. Then the motor let go and the merry ride was over.”
The NASCAR Canadian Tire race was another great show put on by Alex, who had qualified 16th, 1.1 sec off pole position, in this very competitive field. “I had a good car and worked my way towards the front of the pack and into the lead of the race.” Team strategy called for a late pit stop in order to have the best possible tires for a fast run to the finish against people with older, slower tires. “Circumstances forced us to stop later than we wanted, leaving me with the quickest car on the track but down in 28th position with 18 laps left in the 54-lap race. We passed 10 cars in the next five laps and were heading for a good finish when the lap-42 accident involving four other cars caused the race to be cancelled with 12 laps to go. The race was now over and I had no chance to show how good we really were. This was very frustrating for everyone connected with the team!”
With the 5th fastest lap over the whole weekend in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, Alex and the SportChek/Motos Illimitées/DLGL team put on a great performance. His skill and improvement over the weekend were noted by the press and given great exposure during the live race telecast in the US on Fox Sport 1 and in Canada on TSN. The great graphics of the Sport Chek/Motos Illimitées/DLGL truck were visible everywhere and the whole weekend was a success for all parties.