PORT HOPE, ON – How could you turn down the chance to perform in front of NASCAR’s brightest stars? Port Hope, Ontario’s Bryan Mercer knew that he’d been given an opportunity that was much too good to refuse. As one of the top drivers in Kawartha Speedway’s NAPA Auto Parts ACT Late Model division, the 39 year old received a call to participate in the 2012 edition of the American-Canadian Tour Invitational at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
Staged at the one mile oval in Loudon, New Hampshire – during the race weekend that also hosts the second event in this year’s Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup title – Mercer sees this as a once in a lifetime experience.
“I’m thrilled with the way this season has gone and being asked to run the ACT Tour Invitational is the icing on the cake,” said the driver of the #81 Sine’s Flooring/Durmach Excellence in Tooling Chevrolet Impala by McColl Racing Enterprises. “Right down the line, everyone associated with this team has done a great job and I can’t thank them enough. From the drop of the year’s first green flag, we’ve had equipment capable of winning at every show. Other than the Summer Sizzler, I’ve finished in the top 5 in every main event and that’s a pretty impressive statistic.”
After making some extensive changes to his usual Friday night piece, Bryan Mercer and his crew headed for the Granite State Wednesday, August 29th for the mandatory test session with the other 26 invitees. Having never run a track that size before, Mercer immediately took a liking to the New Hampshire Motor Speedway layout and turned some laps in the top 10 times on the charts during the morning and afternoon practice sessions. Before the day wrapped-up, teams were staged for 8 lap ‘qualifying’ races and although he didn’t win his event, Mercer logged some time at the front of the field and came away with some valuable information to take into the Saturday, September 22nd event.
“We went there looking to see how the car would perform and to build a set of notes to use during the race,” said Mercer. “There is a bit of banking, but the track is basically flat. After running Kawartha, that’s not what we were used to but I think we adjusted quickly. The car had some good speed on the straightaways and rolled nicely through the corners. Other than temperature, the weather conditions stayed consistent all day, but the morning and afternoon sessions provided a good idea of how the car would feel as things warmed-up. Overall, I think we have a solid piece to take back for the race.”
There is still a bit of unfinished business on Bryan Mercer’s home track racing calendar. Kawartha Speedway’s latest bout with Mother Nature delayed the 2012 season finale to Friday, September 14th. Although he currently sits 3rd in Late Model points – 49 markers out of the lead – the father of 3 is still mathematically alive, even though he knows winning his first track championship is a long-shot.
“Everything needs to go right for me, while everything falls apart for the 2 guys ahead of me,” admitted Mercer. “None of us got to where we are at this stage of the year by being unprepared. The only real option I have is to run the best race I can and hope for the best.”
For 2012, Bryan Mercer’s #81 Kawartha Speedway NAPA Auto Parts ACT Late Model is supported by Sine’s Flooring, Durmach Excellence in Tooling, Creative Edge Graphics, Jim’s Pizza, Appleman Carstar Collision, APX
Racewear, B & G Equipment, Cressman Tree Maintenance, DenTec, Glass1Autoglass Mobile Service, LVG Auctions, Northumberland News, Quantrill Chevrolet-Buick-GMC-Cadillac, Reflection Glass and Accessories, UAP NAPA – Port Hope and Clarke Motorsports Communications.
PHOTO: Bryan Mercer will close out his 2012 season with the September 14th finale at Kawartha, then head to New Hampshire Motor Speedway
September 22nd for his inaugural run in the American-Canadian Tour
CREDIT: Jim Clarke – Clarke Motorsports Communications
Prepared by: Jim Clarke – Clarke Motorsports Communications