Delaware back in loop

JIM CRESSMAN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:48 AM ET

The NASCAR Canadian Tire Series is coming home.

Delaware Speedway -- birthplace of the CASCAR Super Series in the early 1980s, which morphed into the NCATS in 2007 -- has been awarded a race for Saturday, June 6.

It's the second race on the 13-date schedule that takes the series to 12 tracks in six provinces.

Yesterday's announcement from NASCAR's Daytona Beach, Fla., headquarters even caught Delaware officials a little off guard.

After re-affiliating with NASCAR last month to become part of its Whelen All-American Weekly Series, Delaware was told it would definitely have an NCATS race in 2010.

"We were told there was at best a five-per-cent chance for this year, but only if another track dropped out," Delaware operations manager Paul Houghton said yesterday.

Cayuga Speedway, near Nelles Corners, does not appear on the 2009 schedule after holding two races last year. Auto Clearing Motor Speedway in Saskatoon picked up the other Cayuga date.

"This is going to be a big year for us," Houghton said as Delaware hasn't seen a CASCAR/NASCAR race since the track abruptly severed its ties with the sanctioning body in late 2005.

CASCAR was in the process then of being sold to NASCAR and Delaware had been the first Canadian track to affiliate with the NASCAR weekly series in 2004.

Relations had been strained until the two sides began talking last fall, when track owner Arlen Scherba bought out his three partners. At the time, race director Jeff Wilcox said "all the hurdles have been removed" for the NCATS to come to the track.

"A lot of our fans expressed how they wanted a race and I didn't want to go a whole summer explaining why we still don't have one," Houghton said.

NCATS regular D.J. Kennington of St. Thomas, who just returned from his career-best 17th-place finish in the NASCAR Nationwide Series opener at Daytona Saturday, was excited to learn of the development.

"I've missed Delaware; everyone has," said Kennington, 31, third in the NCATS points chase last year.

"It's great news for everyone. It's where it all started (for him, at age 16, and CASCAR) and for me it's still home. It will probably be our biggest fan base of the year, other than for the Edmonton IndyCar and Montreal Nationwide races."

Kennington said race fans will be impressed with where NASCAR has taken the old Super Series.

"This is NASCAR and they treat it like any of their other touring series. They've taken it to the next level and there's really nowhere to go but up from here. NASCAR is a business and they only do what is going to be good for them."

Kennington qualified 16th out of 50 cars for Saturday's Nationwide race and he actually was the third-highest-finishing regular in that series after 19 Sprint Cup Series drivers competed.

"That's pretty good, considering we have such a small team," he said.

"To have my career best on that track -- the novelty of racing at Daytona never wears off. As soon as you walk in it takes your breath away. Daytona is Daytona and there is nothing else like it."

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2009 NASCAR Canadian Tire Series schedule

Saturday, May 23: Autodrome St. Eustache (.4-mile), St. Eustache, Que.

Saturday, June 6: Delaware Speedway (.5-mile), Delaware

Sunday, June 14: Mosport International Raceway (2.459-mile road course), Bowmanville

Saturday, July 11: Autodrome St. Eustache (.4-mile), St. Eustache, Que.

Saturday, July 18: SunValley Speedway (.5-mile), Vernon, B. C.

Saturday, July 25: Rexall Speedway (1.973-mile road course), Edmonton, Alta.

Wednesday, July 29: Auto Clearing Motor Speedway (.333-mile), Saskatoon, Sask.

Saturday, Aug. 8: Mosport Speedway (.5-mile), Bowmanville

Sunday, Aug. 16: Circuit de Trois-Rivieres (1.53-mile road course), Trois-Rivieres, Que.

Sunday, Aug. 30: Circuit Gilles Villeneuve (2.71-mile road course), Montreal

Saturday, Sept. 12: Barrie Speedway (.333-mile), Barrie

Saturday, Sept. 19: Riverside International Speedway (.333-mile), Antigonish, N. S.

Saturday, Sept. 26: Kawartha Speedway (.375-mile), Peterborough


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