Joey HanssenPrime Champ Dodge rookie driver Joey Hanssen tackled the latest challenge of the NASCAR Canadian Tire series this past Saturday night.  The 200 lap race was run at the tricky paperclip shaped oval at Mosport Speedway just outside Toronto, Ontario.  Hanssen struggled at first but as he found his way at the challenging track a broken lower ball joint would take him out of action.

As usual practice was used to get Hanssen comfortable in the #40 Prime Champ Dodge and trying to get the cars handling to his liking.  The eighteen year old driver would start the 200 lap feature event from the eighteenth position.  With a long green flag run to start the race he would have his work cut out for him.  “The car was a little tight in the beginning” said the driver.  “When the first caution did finally come out we made a pit stop and loosened the car up a little bit and it was much better” he added.

Though Hanssen had fallen a lap down he had a much better handling Prime Champ Dodge race car and set about making the most of his improved ride.  “When the #17 car of DJ Kennington passed me I followed his line and saw what he did, he steered a lot with the rear of his car.  I watched and got the feel and the lap times came down” said the driver.

With the improved pace Hanssen began to move the Prime Champ Dodge toward the front of the field.  “We started to gain a few positions” said the driver.  “We got up as far as tenth at one point and I was quite happy about that” he added.

Though his cars performance was much improved, Hanssen and the Prime Champ Dodge still had some troubles ahead of them.  “There were some communication difficulties with the NASCAR officials and we ended up getting moved to the back of the field on a restart” said the disappointed young man.  “The on the caution we had the ball joint break, the suspension was damaged and that was it” he shrugged.

Though a twenty first place finish due to a breakdown is disappointing Hanssen once again learned a lot during his night in the Prime Champ Dodge Avenger.  “I’m quite happy that we learned a lot today” said Hanssen.  “We learned a lot about the car adjustments and that you have to muscle these cars sometimes.  When I followed DJ (Kennington) for a few laps I could really watch and see how to work the car” he added.

The 2009 NASCAR Canadian Tire Series returns to Quebec for round number nine as the feature race at the Fortieth edition of the Grand Prix of Trois Rivieres on Sunday, August 16th.  This years schedule will consist of thirteen races on ovals, road courses and temporary street circuits from coast to coast in Canada.  All thirteen races will be seen on TSN.

Photo by Rod Henderson