Things are going exactly the way J.R. Fitzpatrick hoped they would this season. The 22-year-old from Cambridge, ON is looking to claim his first NASCAR Canadian Tire Series championship and has a great head start. Fitzpatrick followed up his...
Things are going exactly the way J.R. Fitzpatrick hoped they would this season.
The 22-year-old from Cambridge, ON is looking to claim his first NASCAR Canadian Tire Series championship and has a great head start.
Fitzpatrick followed up his second place run in the season-opener last week at Delaware by winning the Vortex Brake pads 200 at Mosport International Raceway on Sunday.
Fitzpatrick led a race high 35 laps and took the lead for good from Jason Bowles with 23 of the 51 laps still to go in the race. He also took the points lead from DJ Kennington and has a 25 point lead in the standings two races into the 13-race schedule.
"That's good momentum for sure," said Fitzpatrick, who won the CASCAR Super Series championship in 2006 before the series became a NASCAR Home Tracks series. "We've qualified second twice and got a win and a second. It's definitely good for us on the Schick Hydro team. We've got a lot of news guys on it. We're working hard for this and it's going to pay off for us."
Fitzpatrick had a lot of help from his crew this weekend.
They had to change the motor after it expired in practice on Saturday and made quick work of getting a new powerplant into his car. Fitzpatrick qualified second for the second straight race. They also benefited from a timely call to come into the pits just before the yellow flag came out on lap 18.
"Pit strategy obviously came into play there," said Fitzpatrick, who will be racing in the Nationwide Series next weekend at Road America in Wisconsin in his first of three races for JR Motorsports. "We got pretty lucky that we pitted when we did.
"The car was wicked fast. It's a brand new car. We changed the motor and the crew did an awesome job. The car was awesome all weekend. It's a credit to all of them (crew members). They worked their butts off and here we are."
It was no surprise that Fitzpatrick and Ranger were battling for the lead in the closing laps. It's the fifth time the past four seasons that Fitzpatrick and Ranger have finished 1-2 on road course events. Fitzpatrick won here in 2008 while Ranger won here in 2007 and again last year.
"That was pretty fun," Fitzpatrick said. "We body slammed a couple of times but it was all fun. Nobody got spun out and no revenge. It was definitely a fun race. I held back for a long time because I fell in that trap before."
Ranger, the two-time series champ, made his first start of the season from the pole and led nine laps.
"I think it was a great race," said Ranger, who is competing in the K&N Pro East Series this season with a handful of races in the Canadian Tire Series mixed in. "It was a great battle with me and J.R. The caution came a lap too soon - we pitted too late. I won here last year but second place is better than nothing."
Bowles, who was also making his first start of the season in the Triad Racing Technologies Dodge, finished third.
"It was a good run," said Bowles, who won the K&N Series championship last year and will be back in the Gaunt Brothers Racing car again at the Toronto Indy in July. "I wish it could have ended a little bit differently. We didn't stop for tires and I think that hurt us a little bit. We were a bit free. I just didn't have any forward drive there at the end. We did a good job of staying with the leaders and showing that we had the pace."
Former series champion Scott Steckly finished fourth while Kerry Micks rounded out the top five.
"My day was pretty good," said Steckly, who had the fastest practice times in both sessions on Saturday. "Obviously we're happy with a fourth place finish. It's a brand new car and we didn't adjust on it as much as we should have. I think that kind of put us behind the eight ball today. But still a fourth place finish with a brand new car - there is so much competition out there, you've got to be happy with it."
Father and son duo Gary and Peter Klutt finished 11th and 12th. Peter was making his seventh career start in this series while 17-year-old Gary was making his stock car racing debut.
"It was a great race and lots of fun," said Gary Klutt, the Canadian national senior karting champion in 2009. "It was a really big learning curve for us - it's a little different than a go-cart. I was pretty happy with the result."
Caitlin Johnston became the second female to race in the Canadian Tire Series. She finished 19th.
The series is off for two weeks before getting back into action on July 3 at St. Eustache. The replay from Mosport goes next Sunday at noon on TSN.