"It's essentially the same car we used last year, with some subtle changes in the suspension and some of the body panels," said the mechanic at Kerr Industries in Oshawa. "We tried some different ideas for the ACT Invitational last September and kept what worked to use this year. The sport is constantly evolving and as strange as it might sound, sitting still will never help you go fast. Sometimes you need to roll the dice if you want to get to the front of the pack."
While many of the off-season changes Dan McHattie and his team made to the car are underneath the body panels, fans will notice the #71 JJ Stewart Chrysler/Uniglass Plus Ziebart/Sidey Auto Supply/ Barry McClennan Masonry/Douglas Automotive/Ontario Truck Training Academy/Corp Construction/Foxon Alternator and Starter Dodge Charger has been re-designed in a traditional, red and yellow paint scheme. McHattie says that was also changed prior to the New Hampshire event and based on feedback from some of his long-time supporters.
"My cars have almost always been yellow and red," said the old school racer. "And for a couple of years – with Chevy Impala body panels – red and white. The yellow nose and the number design on this year's car is a throw-back to 2007. People who've been by the shop in the past few weeks to see it have had some nice things to say. I guess they just couldn't get used to seeing me run a car that was only one colour. Norm Mayhew at Mayhew Graphics did a great job getting things ready."
With the level of talent already running in Kawartha Speedway's headline division and the possibility of new drivers coming into the fray this season, McHattie understands that he'll need to bring nothing short of his best effort every night to improve on his overall record of 28 main event wins and 71 top 5 finishes – let alone earn an 8th track title – but there could be strength in all the numbers.
"I have 7 track championships now. That's enough to give me one for each day of the week...but there's a Beatles song called "Eight Days a Week", isn't there," said McHattie with a chuckle. "Then, look at the number on the side of the car. '71'...7 plus 1 is 8, right? It certainly won't be easy, but I know it'll be fun and I can't wait for the season to get started."
Kawartha klips: There will be an open test day for NASCAR Canadian Tire Series teams at Kawartha Wednesday, June 6th. The practice is open to the public with free grandstand admission...The Richard Petty Driving Experience Summer Tour returns to Kawartha Speedway Saturday and Sunday, July 14th and 15th. See www.drivepetty.com/can-tour or call 1.800.237.3889 to book the High-Speed Ride Along or behind the wheel Rookie Experience.Prepared by: Jim Clarke – Clarke Motorsports Communications