Scott Steckly Racing

SASKATOON, SK – July 28, 2011:
During the first six races of the 2011 NASCAR Canadian Tire Series season, Scott Steckly and the No. 22 Canadian Tire / MotoMaster Dodge team worked hard to amass an almost 100-point lead in the championship chase. The Milverton, Ontario driver saw most of that margin slip away on Wednesday night at Saskatoon’s Auto Clearing Motor Speedway following an early-race incident that sent him to the pits for 30 laps to change a damaged radiator.

When Steckly returned to the race he was unable to catch-up with the race leaders and the driver of the 22 Racing Team’s Dodge Challenger SRT scored 20th in the final results. After the race, Steckly took it all in stride, and turned his attention to the rest of the season.

“It wasn’t a good night, but there’s really nothing you can do about it,” said Steckly. “That’s part of racing and that stuff happens.”

Just days after his victory at Vernon, BC’s Motoplex Speedway, Steckly looked strong in practice in Saskatoon, turning laps just slightly slower than his nearest points challenger, DJ Kennington, but when it came to qualifying at the 1/3-mile oval, events took a turn for the worse.

“The car was great in practice and we were really happy with it,” said Steckly. “But then for qualifying we were the first car out on the track and it was really dirty and sandy at that point. However, because we were first out, we didn’t qualify very well, which put us back to 11th for the beginning of the race.”

Faced with having to start considerably deeper in the field than he has so far this season, Steckly’s plan was to bide his time in the 250-lap Velocity Prairie Thunder. To put things into perspective, prior to Wednesday, his third-place qualifying efforts at Toronto and Delaware had been his ‘worst’ of the season.

“After qualifying 12th, my plan was to just be as patient as I could. I wasn’t pushing but not long after the start of the race, some of the cars up ahead stacked up – I don’t even know who was in front of me at that point – but I hit him and it put a hole in the radiator. So, we had to come in under green and change the rad. That happened about 10 laps in. We lost 30 laps, went back out, and cruised around the rest of the race.”

Steckly continued, “That made for a really long night and it was even more frustrating because even though we didn’t put new tires on the car, at the end of the race we were running lap times as fast as the leaders who had new rubber. It’s too bad that it happened, but it’s part of racing and we’ve had a great season so far. That stuff is going to happen and we’ll regroup and go for the win in Three Rivers.”

The Saskatoon race was won by Pete Shepherd who led just one lap – the final one – thanks to an exciting last lap pass on Kennington and Don Thomson Jr. finished third. After seven events, Steckly leads Kennington in the points (1153 to 1133), with Thomson (1062), J.R. Fitzpatrick (1038) and Kerry Micks (999) rounding out the top-five.

Unshaken by the events that transpired at Auto Clearing Motor Speedway, Steckly is pleased to still have a 20-point lead over Kennington with five races remaining. “It just proves that you have to take advantage and collect as many points whenever you can.”

Turning his attention to the two upcoming road course events, both of which take place in Quebec (the GP3R, August 7 and the NASCAR Nationwide Series weekend at Montreal’s Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, August 20), Steckly is optimistic. “We’re really excited about the next two races on the road courses. We’ve done well there in the past and Giulio [crew chief Giulio Montanari] has brought a lot more to the table, so we’re confident we’ll be able to run up front at both of those tracks. I’m excited about the rest of the year.”

Discussing the points chase and his closest rival, Kennington, the No. 22 Canadian Tire / MotoMaster / Exide / Erb / Castrol / AW Millwrights Dodge driver said, “One week he’s a bit quicker than us. The next week, we’re a bit quicker than him. I think our car was just as good a car as Kennington and Shepherd this week [in Saskatoon] but that’s part of racing. We just have to stay out of those situations and try to make it onto the podium every week.”

The Velocity Prairie Thunder from Saskatoon’s Auto Clearing Motor Speedway airs on TSN on Saturday, August 6 (1 p.m. ET). The series’ next race is Sunday, August 7 in Trois-Rivières, Quebec.

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