May 20, 2011
An offer Thomson couldn't refuse
By DEAN McNULTY, QMI Agency
BOWANVILLE, ONT. - Don Thomson Jr. has won more Canadian national stock car racing championships than anyone in history.
His seven championships in the CASCAR Super Series will never be equalled.
But it is a NASCAR crown that Thomson wants most on his resume as his stellar career winds down.
Since the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series took over as this country’s premier stock car racing sanctioning body in 2007, Thomson has come close, finishing second in 2008 and twice finishing fourth driving the No. 4 Chevrolet for Fitzpatrick Motorsports.
When that association ended at the conclusion of the 2010 season Thomson contemplated retiring to become a crew chief on another team.
A phone call from NCTS team owner Ed Hakonson, however, offering Thomson a ride in a new car for the 2011 season changed all thoughts of quitting.
“I was seriously thinking about how maybe I could help a young driver on another team by becoming a crew chief,” Thomson said at Thursday’s Canadian Tire Series testing session at Mosport International Raceway’s half-mile oval.
“But Ed called in January and asked me if I wanted to sign on with his team (Ed Hakonson Racing).”
There was still the matter of coming up with the sponsorship it takes to fund a full-time deal in the NCTS.
And that deal with Farmers Feed Families Apparel, Snap-On Tools and Choko Motorsports came together only in the last three weeks.
So there was Thomson at Mosport putting the final touches on his brand spanking new No. 8 Dodge Challenger that he hopes will deliver him that elusive NASCAR championship.
“This is only the second time in my career that I ever drove a Dodge,” Thomson said. “The only other time was when we had all our stuff stolen. And coincidentally it was Ed Hakonson who loaned me one of his cars to race that time.”
Thomson has his work cut out for him with defending champion D.J. Kennington back in the No. 17 Castrol Edge Dodge.
J.R. Fitzpatrick, who was second to Kennington last season in the No. 84 FMS Chevrolet, will also run most of the 2011 NCTS season.
“Right now we are definitely doing the first five races,” Fitzpatrick said. “And it’s possible we can do most all of them.”
Fitzpatrick is already committed to running 11 NASCAR Nationwide Series races in the No. 67 Go Canada Racing Ford as well as at least two Sprint Cup races this season.
“When there is a conflict we might have to miss qualifying and start from the back in some (Canadian Tire) races,” he said.
Simona de Silvestro crashed heavily Thursday during testing for the Indianapolis 500 sending her HVM Racing Dallara Honda into the wall in Turn 3 twice before catching fire at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. She was able to get out of the car but was being taken to hospital for further examination. Initial reports had her suffering second degree burns to her right hand and superficial burns on her left. . ... Spain’s Fernando Alonso has signed a contract extension that will see the two-time Formula One world champion staying at Ferrari at least until the 2016 season. Alonso admitted he would like to end his career at Ferrari. ... The 2011 Canadian Superbike Championship season kicks off next weekend (May 27-29) at Circuit ICAR at Mirabel, Que. ... The rain that has soaked Southwestern Ontario over the past week has sank the dirt track season opener at Ohsweken Speedway set for Friday night. Speedway officials have pushed the entire show back one week to May 27. ... IZOD IndyCar star Tony Kanaan has signed on to compete against the best NASCAR has to offer in Tony Stewart’s Prelude to the Dream charity race at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio, on June 9.