Kalika reflects on NASCAR Pinty’s Series debut

Lucas Punkari/Daily Herald Prince Albert’s Shantel Kalika was all smiles prior to making her NASCAR Pinty Series’ debut last Wednesday at the Wyant Group Raceway in Saskatoon.

After racing at her home track in Saskatoon Wednesday night, Prince Albert’s Shantel Kalika took on a new challenge for her second NASCAR Pinty’s Series event.

Kalika piloted her number 43 Ag Growth International Dodge Challenger to a 14th place finish Saturday night at the Edmonton International Raceway in the Luxxur 300 presented by Bayer.

“It’s a smaller track compared to Wyant Group Raceway and you’re completely turning the whole time, so we spent the first bit of practice getting used to the track,” Kalika said.

“We ended up having a gasket leak on the rear gear so we had to fix that, but we were able to hold our own once again. There was a lot of green flag racing with only two cautions in the whole race but we ran well throughout the night.”

Although she finished 11 laps off the pace of race winner L.P. Dumoulin, Kalika was able to match the result she achieved earlier in the week in the second twin-125 lap affair in Saskatoon.

“We ended up getting called in to the NASCAR hauler after the race to chat with the series director (Cherie Putnam) and she told us that our team did a great job and we conducted ourselves properly,” Kalika said.

“It was great to hear that from the series officials, especially as they go around the country throughout the season and we’re just there for a couple of races.”

Looking towards the future, Kalika and her dad Ben Busch would like to compete in more races in the NASCAR Pinty’s Series, but will need to raise more sponsorship dollars to make that a reality.

“For the teams that are coming out West for the two races this week, they are taking about a $10,000 hit, which is what it would probably cost us to travel out to the tracks elsewhere,” Kalika said. “That’s just the travel cost as well, as you also have to factor in the cost for tires, fuel and feeding the crew among other things.

“Our next step would be to run another race this year or even some more next season, especially as we know that we belong here, but we just have find some more funding to make that happen.”

In the meantime, Kalika will now resume her chase for the Sportsman division title at the Wyant Group Raceway, as she sits one point behind Neil Schneider for the top spot in the standings after a fifth place finish last Tuesday.

“We ended up getting into the wall and bending the rear end in that race, but we have that fixed and are ready to work hard to get that points lead back during the next night of racing on Aug. 17,” Kalika said.

“I think the experience of running in the Pinty’s Series will help us out a lot going forward. You learn about getting the handle of a different race car and you get to run against the best drivers in the country along the way.”