Steckly set to win NCTS title

DEAN McNULTY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:58 PM ET

There will be 26 NASCAR Canadian Tires Series drivers out to win the Kawartha 250 Saturday at Kawartha Speedway near Peterborough.

But there is only one that has a realistic chance to take home the 2011 championship trophy and that is Scott Steckly and the No. 22 Canadian Tire Dodge team.

Steckly goes into the race — that starts at 5 p.m. at the 3/8-mile banked oval — with a 91-point cushion over second-place D.J. Kennington and the No. 17 Castrol Edge Dodge.

What that means is that Steckly needs only to finish better than last to win his second national stock car racing crown.

“We came into the season, like most teams, with this as our goal,” Steckly said. “Everybody has worked really hard to get here. The competition out there is stiff. It’s not that easy.”

It may not be easy but Steckly — a native of Milverton, Ont. — made it look that way this past season with three race wins and four poles in the 12-race series.

He also led 621 laps, almost double Kennington’s 378 laps led.

If Steckly does win he will join Andrew Ranger as the only multiple winner of the NCATS.

CHASE AT NEW HAMPSHIRE

There were not many NASCAR Sprint Cup fans who were happy that the first race of the Chase for the Championship at Chicagoland Speedway this past Monday turned into a fuel-mileage deal.

And the fact that Sunday’s second race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway could end the same way is disconcerting to say the least.

Even new points leader Kevin Harvick thinks it could end that way. He said on Friday that it’s just a fact of life in NASCAR’s top loop.

“I think that fuel mileage is always a possibility to be a part of it,” he said. “You have to plan for it. If you don’t prepare for it and it does happen then you’re in trouble.”

Five-time champion Jimmie Johnson agrees, saying that fuel-mileage racing is almost inevitable.

“This year I think we’ll see fuel mileage play a larger role in the championship than we have in years past,” he said.

That aside, a rain-delayed qualifying for Sunday’s Sylvania 300 was stopped with five cars to go on Friday. When it resumed, Ryabn Newman was fastest at 135.002 m.p.h.

Kasey Khane will start second on Sunday with Brian Vickers, Greg Biffle and Kurt Busch rounding out the top five.

Harvick will start sixth and Johnson 10th.

BELL IN FOR WILSON

A deal that would have put Paul Tracy in the Dreyer & Reinbold Dallara in place of injured Justin Wilson for the final two IZOD IndyCar Series races at Kentucky and Las Vegas isn’t going to happen.

D&R announced Friday that American driver Townsend Bell will drive the No. 22 car at Kentucky and Las Vegas.

The ride was offered to Tracy — the 2003 Champ Car World Series Champion — but he was already under contract with Drago n Racing for Las Vegas and D&R wanted the same driver for both of the final pair of races.

Wilson had hoped to be back by the Vegas race but decided it was too soon.

“I might be fit enough to drive at Vegas, but for the sake of one race when I’m not in contention for anything in the championship, it just doesn’t make sense,” Wilson said.

VETTEL FASTEST IN PRACTICE

The table is set for Sebastian Vettel to claim his second consecutive Formula One world championship for Red Bull after he posted the fastest lap in practice Friday for the Singapore Grand Prix.

His lap of one minute, 46.374 seconds was 0.21 seconds ahead of Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso.

Lewis Hamilton was third fastest for McLaren at 1:47.115.

FINISH LINES

MacDonald Motorsports, owned by Canadian Randy MacDonald, a native of Oshawa, has hired John Monsam as the new crew chief for Blake Koch and the Daystar.com No. 81 Dodge for the remainder of the NASCAR Nationwide Series season. ... IZOD IndyCar boss Randy Bernard has hinted that Penske Racing driver Helio Castroneves will be hit with a stiff fine for calling chief steward Brian Barnhart “a circus clown” after the Japan Indy. A similar outburst by Paul Tracy a decade ago resulted in a fine of $50,000. Bernard said public criticism of Barnhart by the competitors can’t be tolerated.

“I think Helio’s comments were completely ridiculous,” he said. “If he wants consistency, go back and see what Paul Tracy paid for what he said (about the officiating).” ... Kevin Harvick Incorporated has sold its fleet of NASCAR Camping World Trucks to Eddie Sharp Racing, effective at the end of the current season.


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