Pinty’s Series Should Take Development Page From Others
The NASCAR Pinty’s Series has become the premiere tour in Canada for racing competition, with eyes locked on the stars and the close races that they put on. Who can recall the race at between Alex Labbe and Cayden Lapcevich where they traded the lead back and forth 10 times in the final 15 laps? What about the dramatic last lap at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park that saw Scott Steckly drive over the top of Andrew Ranger?
Though while the series has made itself known in Canada and the drivers have proven they’re talented, how many of them made it on the United States stage? As one of the NASCAR series, it’s designated as a place for drivers to run to one day perhaps see themselves running in a top-tier NASCAR division. But how often has that happened?
D.J. Kennington has done it, thanks to a ton of hard work throughout a whole career, but turned into a surprise face when he qualified for the Daytona 500 this past year. While it may have surprised those in the US, it wasn’t surprising to Canadian fans who had watched him win a pair of series championships and lead a top-tier organization.
Cameron Hayley raced in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series the past two years, but that was as a result of making the move down to the K&N Pro Series and having sponsorship to back him up. Like others, though, he couldn’t put together the pieces for this year and is now sitting on the sidelines.
There was also J.R. Fitzpatrick, who made his way down in the late 2000s, finding success in both the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and XFINITY Series, highlighted by a fourth-place finish at Daytona International Speedway. However, a lack of funding resulted in that being put to a stop.
It’s easy to see there’s a problem in drivers making their way down to the United States, and perhaps even within the series itself on the funding scale as prominent drivers struggle to find sponsorship.
So how do you fix the problem in getting more drivers quality rides in the States? How do you make the series worthy of more attention? How do you attract even more talent?
Simple – take a page from two other prominent series.
The NASCAR Euro Series has watched their series champion Anthony Kumpen race in the NASCAR XFINITY Series, as well as seen other drivers be able to test in the states with K&N Pro Series and late model teams. Why? The series has found a way to put itself on the map, through the Nexteer Road to Daytona program. Sponsored by Nexteer, it was put together to try and help European drivers make it in NASCAR’s top-tier divisions.
While Kumpen has been able to take advantage of the prize given, it’s also helped the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series currently be the fastest growing series in Europe.
“Our race in (the) UK was sold out three months ahead of the event, so it’s becoming really popular in Europe, and it’s fantastic to have the opportunity as European drivers to become NASCAR drivers, something that was difficult before we had the Euro Series,” Kumpen told POPULAR SPEED in January. “The Nexteer Program is really good for the young guys coming into the championship.
“There’s a lot of interest from the drivers themselves. We have Alex Caffi who used to be a Formula 1 driver that’s stepping into the series now. So the series is growing as you have the opportunity to go to the US and that’s something that is attracting a lot of drivers to come into our series in Europe.”
The ladder system in helping drivers move up has shown pay-off in even more so in open-wheel, with the Mazda Road to Indy ladder. Consisting of three series (USF2000, Pro Mazda, Indy Lights), each step is supposed to put a driver that much closer to racing in the Verizon IndyCar Series. Mazda also helps create an incentive – if you win the championship, you get a sponsorship scholarship to put towards running the following year at the next level.
What’s stopping a prominent Canadian brand from sponsoring the same type of program for the Pinty’s Series?
While the series, teams, and drivers continue to look towards ways to grow, perhaps the answer is right in front of them.
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