Joey HanssenThe steps forward in the learning process for Joey Hanssen driver of the #40 Prime Champ Dodge continue to come at a remarkable rate. At round number twelve of the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series this past weekend at Riverside International Speedway Hanssen scored his best career starting position in the series and ran well all day until a part failure finished his day early.

Right after the morning practice Hanssen climbed from the #40 Prime Champ Dodge and with a smile on his face said “I really like this place”. The high banks of the Antigonish, Nova Scotia track truly suite the aggressive driver. “You could really attack the corners and feel the speed” he added.

Hanssen would post an impressive qualifying run and score his best starting position of the year with starting the 300 lap feature event on the outside of row six. “I had a nice improvement in qualifying this week” said the Prime Champ Dodge driver. “It was nice to pick up our best starting position of the year and give us a good chance for the race” he added.

When the green flag waved to begin the action the Prime Champ Dodge fell back several positions as Hanssen found the cars handling to be too tight for the track conditions. “The car was just too tight at the start of the race” he added. “I tried to move up the track a little bit to help the handling a bit” he added.

As the laps ticked away the Prime Champ Dodge driver continued to battle with his ill handling race car. As the race reached the one third mark the team made a scheduled stop for fuel and also adjusted the handling in hopes of improving the performance.

Returning to the battle the 18 year old rookie driver gained confidence and experience with every lap and did begin to move toward the front of the field and eventually move into the top-ten just past the halfway mark of the race. “We made our stop and it did help to loosen the car up a little bit, but it wasn’t quite enough” said Hanssen.

As the race went green from just past halfway to the finish, Hanssen continued to work diligently to keep the Prime Champ Dodge moving forward. Unfortunately his efforts and those of the team would be squashed as Hanssen lost power and coasted down pit road to the attention of the crew.

The Prime Champ Dodge suffered a broken axle, a mechanical part failure that would end their day early. It was a disappointing end to the race for the entire crew. “It was a tough way to have our day end” said the driver afterwards. “We had our best starting spot of the year and we ran pretty well for a good part of the race, inside the top-ten but when you have a part break it’s frustrating. We know we’ll be ready for the last race though. We tested at Kawartha Speedway a couple of weeks ago and we should be pretty good” he added.

After eleven events Joey Hanssen continues to lead the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series rookie of the year standings and will look to clinch the title at the final race of the season.

The 2009 NASCAR Canadian Tire Series season comes to an end this coming Saturday September 26th at Kawartha Speedway near Fraserville, ON. This years schedule consists 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 Todd Lewis.