A year ago, Shantel Kalika raced in a NASCAR Pinty’s Series event for the first time.
Today, the Prince Albert driver will return to the same track hoping for an even better result.
Kalika will be racing in the 2017 Wyant Group Raceway Twin 125, a pair of races being today held in Saskatoon.
“I’m really excited,” Kalika said when reached by phone Tuesday.
“We finished the car late last night and we’re ready to go. I’m looking forward to this race event. Last year we learned a lot and I’m excited to apply it and just focus on making the car faster and producing a well-handling car.”
It’s Kalika’s second Pinty’s Series event of the year. She finished in 12th on June 2 at Jukasa Motor Speedway in Hamilton, Ont. That’s a few spots ahead of her previous finish in Edmonton last year when she came in 14th, the same result she got in Saskatoon a year ago.
This time around, Kalika feels more prepared than ever
“We ended up rushing to get it done (last year) because getting into the NASCAR Pinty’s series was a last-minute thing for us,” she said.
“This year we’ve been able to take the offseason and do adjustments to the car. We’ve changed the setup completely and we’ve been able to take what we learned last year from the daily events and have a crew that’s well-equipped to handle that.”
Last year’s excursions also helped Kalika and her family-owned team, Busch Racing, know how the day is going to go.
“Knowing the flow of the day to make it the best it can be and be prepared … at that point, I can focus on just taking the car and being able to drive and produce for the team.”
While this is only the second year Kalika has competed in NASCAR’S Pinty’s series, Kalika is no stranger to the Saskatoon track. She races in the Pro Truck division at the Wyant Group Raceway. Last year, she won the Sportsman division, and in 2016 she earned the Pro Truck championship.
The vehicles in the NASCAR series, though, are faster, and the tires are a lot bigger.
“Handling-wise, I’m really excited to see what (the new setup) can do and see what the handling is like.”
It’s also nice that Kalika is racing on her home track. It means she’ll have fans, family and friends there to cheer her on.
Once the pair of Saskatoon races are done, Kalika will head to Edmonton to compete at the Edmonton International Raceway. She’ll return to Hamilton’s Jukasa Motor Speedway in September.
While she’s confident, Kalika was fighting a few nerves ahead of today’s race, but they’ve passed.
“The nerves were starting to get to me a little bit. We were trying to get the truck ready as well as the car. There’s a lot of prep that goes into actually getting the cars to the track — it’s not just the event and what happens at the track,” she said.
“We finished last night. We got everything done. We kicked off (Tuesday) with a bunch of media this morning. I’m really looking forward to the event and looking forward to trying this new setup and seeing what we can do with it.”