NASCAR 'brings clout'

JIM CRESSMAN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:43 AM ET

The NASCAR Canadian Tire Series is coming to Delaware Speedway -- if not this year, then for sure in 2010.

The track has laid the groundwork by re-affiliating with the NASCAR weekly series, now called the Wheelen All-American Series.

Delaware affiliated with the Dodge Weekly Series in 2004 -- the first Canadian track to go with NASCAR sanctioning -- then abruptly severed its ties after two years, while also ending its association with the CASCAR Super Series.

NASCAR was in the process of buying CASCAR and the Canadian Tire Series replaced the Super Series in 2007.

There's been no race in that series at Delaware in three years, creating a big void.

"We've been told if they can get us a race for this year, yes, but there's no guarantee. But 2010, no problem," said speedway owner Arlen Scherba.

"We'll know more in two to three weeks, but NASCAR is very happy to be part of Delaware again and we are extremely happy to be part of NASCAR again.

"To be in this business and not be associated with NASCAR, you can survive. But you're a whole lot better off under NASCAR. Just to be able to say 'NASCAR' brings clout."

Scherba stressed that the Wheelen Series and Canadian Tire Series are separate entities under NASCAR and negotiations are also separate, "but you've got to put your best foot forward and getting the weekly series signed, sealed and delivered was important to land the other."

Relations were strained the last three years, but repairs began in December when Brad Moran was named director of the Canadian Tire Series.

Moran and Delaware race director Jeff Wilcox were with Dave Whitlock's team years ago and Wilcox phoned Moran to congratulate him.

Scherba, sole owner after buying out his partners, has also given the green light for repairs to the track surface and pit road, which NASCAR has said are needed for a Canadian Tire Series race.

"All the hurdles have been removed now," Wilcox said. "The lines of communication are back open.

"I likened it (not being affiliated with NASCAR) to owning a little coffee shop, then Tim Hortons and Starbucks build on the same corner. I'm not going to be in business much longer. In 2005, when we were still part of the NASCAR weekly program, it was one of our best years for track recognition and driver payouts. Let's face it, NASCAR is it."

Drivers and their crew members can chose to opt out of the US$180 NASCAR membership, but those who do won't be eligible for bonus money, year-end payouts and regional cash awards.

The Wheelen Series has eight regions and by comparing performances of drivers in each region, regional champions and a national champion are declared.

In 2004, Delaware late model champion Scott Lindsay of St. Marys became the first Canadian to receive a cheque (US$17,000) from the NASCAR weekly program after finishing fourth in the region.


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