NASCAR: Quiroga, Ranger fastest in Truck Series practices at CTMP

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The highly-anticipated NASCAR Camping World Truck Series weekend at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park has begun with a pair of practice sessions on the 10-turn road course outside Toronto.

Seemingly going along with the international flavor of this particular event, a Mexican, an American, and a Canadian took the Top 3 spots in the first practice session.

Mexico’s German Quiroga used a late run to post the fastest lap of the session at 81.239 seconds. Following him was the USA’s Brennan Newberry in P2 (81.595 seconds) and Canada’s Alex Tagliani in third (81.660 seconds).

Rounding out the Top 5 were Gray Gaulding (fourth, 81.852 seconds) and Jeb Burton (fifth, 81.852 seconds).

Speeds went up in the second practice, which was led by another Canadian driver. Quebec native Andrew Ranger went to the top with his lap of 80.760 seconds, pushing Quiroga’s 80.772-second lap to P2.

Cole Custer posted the third-fastest time (80.825 seconds). Then came Ryan Blaney in fourth (80.832 seconds) and Gaulding again cracking the Top 5 speeds, this time in fifth (80.886 seconds).

Points leader Johnny Sauter was 13th in the first practice, but improved to 10th in the second practice. Sauter leads the Truck Series standings by eight points over ThorSport Racing teammate and defending series champion Matt Crafton (11th in first practice, seventh in second practice).

As for the beleaguered Turner Scott Motorsports, Ben Kennedy (ninth in first practice, 14th in second practice) and Cameron Hayley (14th in first practice, 11th in second practice) posted times good enough for mid-pack.

Qualifying will take place later today at 5:40 p.m. ET ahead of Sunday’s main event, the Chevrolet Silverado 250 (1:30 p.m. ET, check local listings).

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series at CTMP – First Practice Times

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series at CTMP – Second (Final) Practice Times

Attention NASCAR teams: IMSA drivers available for Daytona!

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NASCAR will be making its debut on the Daytona International Speedway road course next month, and there’s a big fan who’d like to join the historic weekend.

This fan actually has impressive credentials, too — a few thousand laps around the 12-turn, 3.56-mile layout that annually plays host to the Rolex 24 at Daytona in January.

In 2014, the winning GTLM team in the sports car endurance classic included IMSA Porsche driver Nick Tandy, who rabidly has followed NASCAR for more than 30 years since growing up in England.

So why not try racing NASCAR? Especially because Tandy has the weekend of Aug. 14-16 free.

He’s not picky, either — offering up his services on Twitter (as well as those of Porsche teammate Earl Bamber) for an ARCA, Xfinity, trucks or Cup ride.

Tandy’s affinity for American stock-car racing runs deep.

His first trip to the World Center of Racing was as a fan attending the 50th running of the Daytona 500 on Feb. 17, 2008. During Rolex testing in January, Tandy, 35, said he hadn’t missed a Cup race on TV in 15 years.

Among his favorite NASCAR drivers: the Earnhardts, Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch. When IMSA ran the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course in 2014, Tandy stayed a few extra days at the Brickyard and bought Kyle Busch gear for himself and his children.

He briefly took the stage during a NASCAR weekend last October. After IMSA’s season finale at Road Atlanta, Tandy made a few demonstration laps and a burnout in his No. 911 Porsche before the Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway.

He also has some experience in stock cars, having raced Modified-type grass-roots series on England’s quarter-mile short tracks.

Couple that with a Daytona road course record that includes two consecutive podium class finishes (including last Saturday) and a sports car resume with 13 IMSA victories and an overall win in the 2015 24 Hours of Le Mans … and maybe a NASCAR team should take a look.

And Tandy isn’t the only IMSA driver who likely would be available.

Corvette driver Jordan Taylor, who won the 2017 Rolex 24 overall title with Jeff Gordon as a teammate (and the inspiration for his Rodney Sandstrom persona), also tweeted his availability for the weekend on the high banks.

Sports car veteran Andy Lally, a GTD driver with multiple class wins in the Rolex 24 as well as 38 Cup starts (he was the 2011 rookie of the season in NASCAR’s premier series), also hung out his shingle.

There also is AIM Vasser Sullivan’s Jack Hawksworth (who just won at Daytona last Saturday), the Englishman who teamed with Kyle Busch at the Rolex 24 in January and made an Xfinity start at Mid-Ohio last year with Joe Gibbs Racing.

Many sports car drivers (such as Taylor) already live in Florida, and many are hunkering down in the Sunshine State with IMSA returning to action at Daytona last week and Sebring International Raceway next week. Because of COVID-19-related travel concerns and restrictions, several IMSA stars who live outside the country are riding out the pandemic within a few hours of Daytona with nothing to do.

Why not a weekend at the World Center of Racing?

Over the years, scads of “road-course ringers” (including some Formula One veterans) have tried their hands in stock cars at Sonoma Raceway and Watkins Glen International.

How about considering the many sports car drivers who already have reached victory lane at Daytona by making a few right-hand turns, too?