Switchin' his ride

DEAN MCNULTY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:44 AM ET

BOWMANVILLE -- Karl Thomson hasn't raced a rear-wheel drvie car since, well, he can't remember exactly when. But he knows it has been a long, long time.

Thomson has five wins as a driver and team owner in the Grand AM KONI Challenge, all of them in front-wheel drive Acuras and the three Hondas his Compass360 Communications team currently fields.

In fact, his team sits second in points in that series.

So when officials of the Ford Racing Mustang Challenge Series offered up a ride in one of their big horsepower FR500S ponies at the Mosport High Octane Weekend, Thomson turned to a fellow Canadian who knows a little about driving those kinds of cars -- Scott Maxwell.

Maxwell, a winner in just about every kind of car he's ever raced in -- including victories at the 24 Hours of Le Mans -- just happened to be at Mosport yesterday as part of the Ford team.

"My experience is just about the polar opposite of Karl's," Maxwell said. "I haven't raced a front-wheel drive car in about 10 years."

So it was sort of a perfect teacher-student match.

Thomson said the first thing he wanted to know was how to react when the car got sideways.

Maxwell told him to do the exact opposite of what he would do in his KONI car.

"In a front-wheel drive race car you just stand on the throttle when you get loose," Maxwell said. "I told (Thomson) not to do that or for sure the Mustang would end up in the wall."

Thomson plans to listen very carefully to everything his Toronto pal has to say.

"(Scott) took the car out (yesterday) just for a few shake-down laps to give me some ideas on set-ups for the race (tomorrow)," Thomson said. "I told him he could come to the paddock and do a complete set-up."

While Maxwell would have been happy to jump in, it certainly would have left the rest of the grid at a distinct disadvantage.

But whatever advice he gave Thomson, it worked, as his No. 00 Mustang ripped off a lap of one minute, 33.475 seconds, good enough for fourth fastest in his first practice yesterday.

The NASCAR Canadian Tire Series will be on Mosport's four-kilometre road course today for a qualifying session for tomorrow's Dickies 200.

Defending champion J.R. Fitzpatrick will miss qualifying as he is racing in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Michigan International Speedway in the No. 4 Kevin Harvick Inc., Chevrolet Silverado.

Series veteran Jim Lapcevich will qualify the No. 84 Fitzpatrick Racing Chevrolet, forcing Fitzpatrick to start from the rear of the grid tomorrow.

Fellows to drive for Finch

Meanwhile, NASCAR Sprint Cup team owner James Finch has announced that Toronto's Ron Fellows will drive the No. 09 Miccosukee Gaming and Resorts Chevrolet at Infineon Raceway in California next week. Fellows also is slated to race in the No. 9 Chevy at Watkins Glen in August.

DEAN.MCNULTY@SUNMEDIA.CA


Videos

Photos