After finishing his first weekend as a full-time participant in the NASCAR Pinty’s Series with in impressive sixth-place finish at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, Cole Powell did even better last weekend at Jukasa Motor Speedway.
Powell, who entered this season with a lot of experience on oval tracks, enjoyed a strong race day at the newly re-opened facility in southern Ontario.
Powell remained in the top five throughout practice, qualified third and finished second on the fast oval for his first podium finish in the series.
Powell used his experience on ovals to help him prepare for his second Pinty’s start.
“I was super comfortable going into the race at Jukasa, ” Powell said. “The crew did a great job preparing the car and we were fast right off of the trailer. I think we finished fourth overall in practice.”
It was not only on the ovals where Powell showed the poise of a veteran despite the unusual circumstances during the back at CTMP where he made his first start on a road course.
“I thought the weekend kind of went as we expected it to with a few curve balls thrown in due to the weather,” Powell said. “It was a good thing that we participated in the (preseason) test session and had a really good car.”
Powell also credited a solid test session with the support and resources of one of the Pinty’s Series most successful teams in its history. He also had veteran driver Jason Hathaway in his corner to offer advice and consultation preparing for his first season in the Pinty’s Series.
“It’s a huge help to have Jason on the team to help me,” said Powell. “He’s been offering me advice and helping me get up to speed quicker since he has so much experience at the tracks I’ll race on this year.”
For Hathaway, who drove the No. 3 car to nine victories in the series before stepping away from full-time driving in 2016, watching Powell finish sixth was like an added bonus for their goals for this season prior to his race at Jukasa.
“CTMP was a good race for Cole and our entire team, ” said Hathaway. “I told Cole we needed four top-10 finishes in the road course races this year because we expect him to perform well on ovals with all of his experience on those types of tracks.
“Cole learned a lot at CTMP and was able to race with some road course veterans like Alex Tagliani and DJ Kennington and that can only help him learn even more. We’re looking forward to seeing what he can do on the ovals.”
Powell and Hathaway teamed up again to test for the first time at Jukasa Motor Speedway and both felt the test helped him during the race weekend.
“We tested there and it went really well,” said Powell. “Having Jason there really helped me and helped our team get the car ready so we just had to fine tune the car on race day.”
During the race, Powell was able to pass pole sitter Andrew Ranger on Lap 12 and remained out front for the next 67 laps of the race and remain in the top-five for most of the event.
“I had a bad vibration near the end of the first stage of the race so we decided to play it safe and pit,” Powell said. “We thought it was better to be safe than sorry.”
Powell restarted stage two in eighth-place and finished second after that stage.
“We came in to get tires before the final stage and came out third,” said Powell. “Later in the race on the final restart I was able to get by Alex Tagliani for second and that’s where we finished. The race was a lot of fun and we learned a lot.
“I’m super excited for the rest of the season.”
Hathaway feels the same way as he feels the team can expect more than just top-10 finishes from Powell on oval tracks.
“He’s got a lot of oval track experience in a modified but the key to running well in a Pinty’s Series car will be to protect your brakes and tires in the race,” Hathaway said. “We don’t have the same type of braking systems the modifieds do or the size tires that they use.
“Our goal for the oval track program is to get a win or two this season with Cole behind the wheel.”