The 2019 Western Swing for the NASCAR Pinty’s Series proved to be a wild one for Prince Albert’s Shantel Kalika.
After motor woes led to a pair of last place finishes in the Bayer Velocity Prairie Thunder Twin 125’s at Wyant Group Raceway in Saskatoon Wednesday, her Busch Racing team rebounded Saturday with a 14th place result at the Luxxur 300 event at Edmonton International Raceway in Wetaskiwin, Alta.
“Obviously it was super disappointing not to compete at our home track as it was something that we’d had been building towards the whole off-season,” Kalika said. “We made the best of it by going up to the VIP tent during the rain delay and signing autographs for the fans, but at the end of the day, you want to race.
“We worked all day Thursday and drove through the night to get to Edmonton, where got back to work again at 8 a.m. the next day. We were able to change the engine out and we couldn’t have done without the help of the bigger teams on the tour such as CBRT (Canada’s Best Racing Team), DJK (DJ Kennington) Racing and Wight Motorsports Inc.”
Wednesday’s struggles started in practice as Kalika was down on power as soon as she hit the track.
“We thought that it was a gear situation at first but it turned out to be a spark plug wire that was loose,” Kalika said. “It was noticeable that we were down on power during qualifying as we’re the only car out on the track.
“We decided that we weren’t going to run the full races as it would just hurt the motor more and that’s really hard to come back from, especially when you are an underfunded team like ours.”
Kalika matched her finish from last year’s race at Edmonton on Saturday, as the 300-lap race was shortened by 25 circuits due to rain and was won by series points leader Andrew Ranger.
“We took a big swing with our setup after we went out for practice and we ended up starting on a green racetrack after qualifying was rained out,” Kalika said.
“We made some gains with our lap times compared to what we did last year and we ended up being the highest finishing rookie for the race. I’m really proud of what our team was able to accomplish after some tough circumstances and there’s a lot of positives that we can take from this going forward.”
Kalika’s fourth and final NASCAR Pinty’s Series start of the season will take place on Saturday, Sept. 28 at the Pinty’s Fall Brawl event at Jukasa Motor Speedway in Hagersville, Ont., which is also the final race of the year for the tour.
“That weekend can’t come soon enough for us, especially as we felt like we had a race taken away from us in Saskatoon,” said Kalika, who finished in 12th place at the track during the APC 200 on June 2. “I’m really excited about getting back in the car down there.”
She also has three races left in the Pro Truck division slate at the Wyant Group Raceway, where she currently sits third in points ahead of the next race on Friday, Aug. 16.