Kalika thrilled with NASCAR Pinty’s Series debut

Lucas Punkari/Daily Herald Prince Albert’s Shantel Kalika (#43) races against Jason White (#28), Adam Martin (#19) and Larry Jackson (#04) during the second half of the Velocity Prairie Thunder Twin 125’s at the Wyant Group Raceway in Saskatoon Wednesday night.

Other than a few tire marks on the side of her car, Shantel Kalika’s number 43 Ag Growth International Dodge Challenger was ready to complete 250 more laps around the Wyant Group Raceway in Saskatoon.

The Prince Albert native made her debut in the NASCAR Pinty’s Series on her home track Wednesday night as the finished in 15th and 14th place in a pair of 125 lap races around the 1/3 mile oval.

“I’m really happy with what we accomplished and what we were able to do,” Kalika said. “My dad (Ben Busch) and I do all of the work out of a little shop, so to go up against the top teams on the series was amazing.

“There’s not much repairs we have to do before the next race. All we have to is switch out the gears and the brakes, fix up the body a little bit and we’re ready to go for Saturday in Edmonton.”

A regular competitor in the Sportsman division at the Wyant Group Raceway, where she finished fifth in a feature race Tuesday evening, Kalika was able to make adjustments throughout the night as she competed in Canada’s top short track racing series.

“I was more comfortable in the second race compared to the first as I was getting more used to the car,” Kalika said. “We fought a push off of the corner for most of the first race and I had so much wheel in it that it was kicking the car loose as I would come off of the turn.

“We were able to figure that issue out and I felt like the car was dialed in a lot better for the second race.”

There were a pair of first-time winners during the Velocity Prairie Thunder Twin 125’s, as Donald Theetge of Boischatel, Que. captured the checkered flag in the first race and Cole Powell of Mount Brydges, Ont. took home the trophy in the second race.

“I expected the racing to have a high pace and a high tempo, and it certainly did,” Kalika said.

“This series doesn’t mess around but I think we were able to prove ourselves and showed that we deserve to belong out here. Now we just need to find some money to run the series full time someday.”

Kalika and the rest of the NASCAR Pinty’s Series drivers will conclude the tour’s Western swing Saturday night at the Edmonton International Raceway for a 300-lap affair.

“It’ll be a new challenge for me as I haven’t raced there before, but I’m excited about it,” Kalika said.

“From what I’ve been told, the track there is just one big turn, so it’s quite a bit different than the track here. My dad’s raced there in the past so hopefully he’ll be able to help me out a bit.”