Back on track

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, Last Updated: 7:40 AM ET

Maybe Kevin Lowe could enlist Jim Haskins to give him a hand as the NHL trade deadline approaches.

The general manager of Edmonton's Grand Prix has been involved in some fancy finagling himself in order to get pieces in place for a run.

"We had to do some stickhandling to get it through both bodies," Haskins said yesterday of fitting the fledgling NASCAR Canadian Tire Series into Champ Car's program for the race event.

"We've been working on it, (NASCAR Canada honcho) Richard Coughlin and I, I'd say since early November," Haskins said, adding that ringtones chimed in the offices of "the president of Champ Car (Steve Johnson) ... through the echelons of NASCAR.

"We worked through the details of the sanction agreement and got it signed a little over a week ago."

While it's a solid pairing on paper for this particular event, bigger pictures and varied agendas means that the smallest of i's need to be dotted before the X's and O's could fit together.

"We weren't sure," said Haskins. "(It's) two very large, very successful bodies with their own series that they are promoting.

"But everyone was professional about it, everybody came at it from the same direction that we were going to try and get this deal done. And it worked."

The stock cars made a return to the City Centre Airport in 2006 since its first incarnation as a racetrack, starting with the Tommy Fox Classic in 1996.

It also boosted the local content of the show with close to a dozen teams being from the Edmonton area.

Kevin Dowler won in front of the home crowd twice at the airport and wanted to make last year his farewell as a driver before becoming the Jack Roush of his Apollo Motorsports team.

But the combination of crashing out of the race and a fresh start for the national stock car series made him do a Roger Clemens and keep his driver's suit on.

"I know last year was, 'I'm done, I'm done, I'm never going to race again,' but the disappointment really hung with me for the balance of the season.

"I think of it this way: I'm a pretty good golfer and there's a PGA tournament in town and that's my home golf course - well, I want to go out and play."

Dowler is targeting the Edmonton Grand Prix, the Busch Series event in Montreal and maybe a race in Saskatoon for 2007.

"My sponsor was committed to my program even in its 'semi-retirement.' They said, 'If you want to run that race, we'll work with you on it.'

"The series needed a shot in the arm and I hope, I hope, that they are really going to take this thing and really do with it what it's worth.

"Not so much for me, but for the people that are going to be carrying on."

"We've had lots of phone calls: 'Are these cars coming back?' " Haskins said of the stockers. "So we were diligently working to see if we could make it happen.

"The premier event is still the Champ Car World Series, there's no two ways about it. That's why we're here.

"But ... we're really pleased that we have been able to combine Champ Car and NASCAR into this Grand Prix event.


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