Local racer Shantel Kalika is about to make the leap into Canada’s top racing series.
A regular competitor in the Sportsman division at the Wyant Group Raceway in Saskatoon, Kalika will be making her debut in the NASCAR Pinty’s Series at her home track on Wednesday, July 25 during the Bayer Velocity Prairie Thunder Twin 125’s.
“It’s something that came together here over the last few months,” Kalika said. “We went down to the NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series race in Bristol, Tenn. in March to meet some contacts down there and that eventually led to our team purchasing a car.
“Our family has been involved in the Pinty’s Series for awhile now as my dad (Ben Busch) and I have crewed and spotted for teams over the last few years. Now we’re taking the plunge into racing with them and we’re really excited about it.”
The NASCAR Pinty’s Series travels across Canada and has one race in New Hampshire during its 13-race schedule.
Defending champion Alex Labbé now competes regularly in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, while D.J. Kennington has made a handful of starts in the NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series this year.
“The amount of horsepower in these cars is the biggest difference from what I usually drive,” Kalika said. “There’s about 560 horsepower in a Pinty’s Series car compared to 380 in the sportsman class, so that changes things quite a bit with how the car goes around the track.”
What will be unique about Kalika’s series debut is that the event in Saskatoon will feature a pair of 125 lap races.
“You have to make sure that you pace yourself, which is something that I noticed last year with how the teams approached the two races,” Kalika said. “The drivers that are running full time are racing for the points championship, so they’ll be patient and trying not to damage their car before the next race.
“It’s tight racing and everything happens in a blink of an eye out there, so you need to have a little bit of luck on your side as well.”
Kalika and her number 43 Ag Growth International Dodge will then race in a second NASCAR Pinty’s Series event on Saturday, July 28 in the Luxxur 300 at the Edmonton International Raceway.
“You might as well go big or go home right,” Kalika joked. “The series does a Western Swing each year in Saskatoon and Edmonton, so it made sense for us to be a part of both events as it’s not far for us to travel to, along with our fans, family and friends.
“We’d love to run the full series, but it takes a lot of money and it would mean that I would probably have to take off the summer off work.”
A track champion in the Pro Truck division two years ago, the Prince Albert product currently leads the Sportsman division standings at Wyant Group Raceway with two wins in three races.
“We’re also running a Sportsman race the night before the Pinty’s race in Saskatoon, so it’s going to be a pretty busy week with a lot of time behind the wheel and little sleep,” Kalika joked.
“We have a couple of different goals for the races. If we can come away with a top 15 or a top 10 finish, that would be amazing for us as we move up to this level of racing. With that said, if we can finish both events, keep things clean and earn the respect of the other racers, that would be a success.”