BROOKLYN, MICH. - Right now there is a big blank space on Maryeve Dufault’s 2011 race calendar where the NASCAR Nationwide Series NAPA 200 should be.
From the start of her first stock car season that began with a very credible 24th finish among the 43 cars in the ARCA Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200 at Daytona International Speedway in February, it has been Dufault’s goal to run in Canada’s lone Nationwide stop at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal.
And after seven rounds of the ARCA series she has proven herself ready by being solidly competitive in the top U.S. stock car racing circuit below NASCAR.
On Friday her race finished early in the Rain Eater Wiper Blades 200 at Michigan International Speedway when her No. 12 Dodge was wrecked on Lap 53.
Dufault still remains in 10th position in the series championship.
But she would trade all of her ARCA successes for a ride Aug. 19-20 in Montreal.
“We are pretty close to signing a Nationwide contract for Montreal,” Dufault said. “We are in talks right now and we should be able to announce it in the next couple of weeks.”
One of the problems, of course, is that most of the top echelon race teams who normally would be looking for a Canadian driver for the Canadian race have already signed someone.
Jacques Villeneuve and Alex Tagliani will be driving the No. 22 and No. 12 Penske Racing Dodges; Patrick Carpentier will be in the No. 55 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota; and J.R. Fitzpatrick will be in the No. 67 Go Canada Racing Ford.
Dufault would also have to find time in the next month to test an NNS car on a road course, something that doesn’t come cheap.
“We are hoping to be able to do some road course testing, but we have a very small budget and it is hard to find the funds to go testing even as much as we want to,” she said. “Another of the problems is that there are not many Dodges out there in the Nationwide Series so it is hard to get data to work off.”
Dufault admits she won’t take the first offer that comes along. She said she wants a car that will be competitive because she has no desire to run at the back of the pack.
“It is important that we get good equipment because there is no use going to a race like the NAPA 200 and not have a good car,” Dufault said. “There are so many top teams like Roush, Harvick and JR Motorsports, you have to get a good, fast car to be able to compete.”
What she won’t be doing is driving in the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series that will be run in Montreal on the same weekend as the Nationwide race.
“I won’t be doing the double,” Dufault said. “I don’t have enough experience yet. For me, I am still too new in stock cars to be able to jump from one kind of race car to another. I think it would be too hard for me.”