NEW HAMPSHIRE – It was a racing experience he knows he’ll never forget. After weeks of preparation and long hours spent in the garage getting the car ready for the trip, Bryan Mercer can look back fondly at his first ever start in the Bond Auto Parts Showdown – the 2012 edition of the American-Canadian Tour Invitational – Saturday, September 22nd at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. The Port Hope, Ontario racer was 7th fastest during the final practice session and started the 50 lap shootout from 14th position.
“There was so much going on, it was very hard not to get too excited,” said Mercer. “Just being invited to share the same facility as so many of the top NASCAR teams during the Chase for the Sprint Cup was a thrill. By the time we actually got to roll onto the track for the race, I had a lump in my throat and butterflies in my stomach. When the green flag dropped, it was time to put any nervous energy on the back burner and turn in the best laps we could. I had to keep telling myself that it was just another speedway and run the same type of race that got
me included in the first place.”
The long straightaways on the one mile layout at NHMS allow the cars to carry a great deal of speed into the tight corners. Heading into the first turn on the opening lap with a pack of 41 others on an unfamiliar circuit certainly kept everyone on their toes, but the entire field made it through unscathed. There were just 4 caution flag periods during the event and the entire race distance was completed in just over an hour’s time. Bryan Mercer says both statistics are indicative of the level of talent the invitees brought to the stage.
“I wasn’t really concerned about how the other guys would run, but anytime you’re on a track where you’ve never raced before, the thoughts have to cross your mind,” said Mercer after the show. “Our goal throughout the day was to have some fun and learn as much as we could. It was an honour just to be invited and the crew did an amazing job and gave me a car that stayed with the leaders all day. To come home with a 10th place finish is a testament to the hard work they’ve done all year. Looking at the way things worked out, it was almost like running a feature event back home. We still had to battle for position with McHattie (who finished 9th) at the end of the race.”
With his first trip to the American-Canadian Tour Invitational in the history books, Bryan Mercer and the #81 Sine’s Flooring/Durmach Excellence in Tooling Chevrolet Impala by McColl Racing Enterprises team will now shift their attention to the 2012 season finale Friday, September 28th at Kawartha Speedway. Although 3rd in points, Mercer is just 49 markers out of the top spot and a possible first NAPA Auto Parts ACT Late Model track championship.
“I’m still mathematically in the running, so we’ll have to see how things work out and how the numbers add up when the checkered flag flies,” said Mercer. “All things considered, it’s been a great season and no matter what happens, I’m proud of everyone associated with this team.”
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
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By Jim Clarke – Clarke Motorsports Communications