Tight Championship Battle Highlights 2010 Season
Several storylines -- JR Fitzpatrick returning to the series on a full-time basis, Andrew Ranger winning three times despite a limited schedule and veteran Mark Dilley teaming with Scott Steckly after years of association with Dave Whitlock -- highlighted the 2010 NASCAR Canadian Tire Series presented by Mobil 1 season, but none more than the battle for the championship put on by Fitzpatrick and DJ Kennington.
The two good friends got to it right out of the gate. In the season opener at Delaware (Ont.) Speedway, Kennington (No. 17 Castrol Edge Dodge) took the early advantage by winning at his home track for the second straight season. However, Fitzpatrick (No. 84 Schick Hydro Chevrolet) stated his case, as well, with a second-place showing.
Kennington's time atop the standings with short-lived, though. In the season's second race, Fitzpatrick flexed his muscles on the road course of Mosport International Raceway as he held off Ranger and U.S. import Jason Bowles for the victory.
Kennington jumped right back into the lead with an early July win at Quebec's Autodrome St. Eustache -- his second of the young season.
After thoroughly dominating the road-course event in Edmonton, Fitzpatrick returned to the top of the standings and was able to hold serve following the annual trip to Motoplex Speedway in Vernon, B.C.
The three-race swing through Western Canada ended with a date at Auto Clearing Motor Speedway in Saskatoon, Sask., at which Kennington found his way to Victory Lane for the third time in 2010 that once again catapulted him to the top of the leader board.
And again his time as the points leader was brief. Fitzpatrick, on the power of another strong road-course performance, left Trois-Rivieres, Que., with a one-point lead. That advantage grew to 16 points following the Mosport Speedway event.
Montreal, where he historically fares better and the last of five road-course dates on the schedule, was an opportunity for Fitzpatrick to really stretch out the lead. However, both drivers encountered trouble early on in the event and Fitzpatrick left with a 51-point lead with three races to go.
The advantage shifted back to Kennington for those last three contests which would all be on oval tracks. At Barrie (Ont.) Speedway, he shaved 30 points off that lead with his fourth win of the season, setting up a thrilling end to the season.
The final twist to this season-long epic came at Nova Scotia's Riverside International Speedway in the season's penultimate event. While leading the race on Lap 184, Fitzpatrick suddenly fell off the pace with clutch problems which handed both the race and points lead to Kennington. It was the sixth time this season that the two exchanged the top spot in the standings.
Kennington carried a 40-point lead into the season finale at Kawartha Speedway, the last hurdle to clear for his first championship. While there were moments of drama in the early going like a flat tire after leading 78 laps, but by race's end, Kennington was exactly where he needed to be and claimed his first NASCAR title.
"It was a great battle all season long," said Kennington. "And there is no one I'd rather be battling with than (Fitzpatrick). I hated that it came down to things beyond his control, but that's the way it goes. I know. I've been there."
NASCAR Night of Champions Touring Awards Gala
Charlotte Convention Center - Crown Ballroom
Saturday, Dec. 11
7 p.m. ET
NCATS Notebook: Season Wrap-Up
First Timer: With his Kawartha 250 win, Pete Shepherd III (No. 7 National Exhaust/Gates Dodge) picked up his first NASCAR Canadian Tire Series presented by Mobil 1 victory in just his eighth series start. He became the 12th winner in the series' four-year history. Andrew Ranger (No. 27 Dodge Dealers of Quebec Dodge) leads the all-time list with 12 wins followed by DJ Kennington (No. 17 Castrol Edge Dodge) with nine.
Perfect 10: Kennington, Ranger and JR Fitzpatrick (No. 84 Schick Hydro Chevrolet) combined to win 10 of the season's 13 races in 2010. Kennington led the way with five victories followed by Ranger with three and Fitzpatrick with two. Shepherd, Scott Steckly (No. 22 Canadian Tire/MotoMaster Dodge) and Don Thomson Jr. (No. 4 Home Hardware Chevrolet) were the other triumphant drivers this past season.
Mobil 1 Command Performance Driver of the Race: As a reward for his first NASCAR Canadian Tire Series win at Kawartha Speedway, Shepherd collected $1,500 from Mobil 1 as the Command Performance Driver of the Race. Fitzpatrick was the 2010 leader in this category by winning this award four times to win the special season's end bonus.
Autolite Time To Change Your Position: This award goes to the driver who improves his finishing position the most over the previous event. Donald Chisholm (No. 89 Nova Construction/Keltic Ford) earned the prize for the Kawartha 250. Kerry Micks (No. 02 Dickies/Beyond Digital Imaging Ford) earned this award three times during the season which earns him to the season-end bonus.
Dodge-Mopar Fast Five: This program rewards the top five finishing Dodges in the race eligible for the award. At Kawartha Speedway, race winner Shepherd had the top-finishing Dodge and earned $2,000. Kennington placed second among the Dodges and earned $1,500. Mark Dilley (No. 9 PartSource/Dickies Dodge) grabbed the third spot and $1,000. The performance of Steckly ranked him fourth among the Dodge entrants and netted $750. Jason Hathaway (No. 3 Snap-on Tools/Vortex Brake Pads Dodge) was the fifth highest-finishing Dodge and collected $500 in the process. In the season-long competition, Kennington led the way followed by Steckly, Hathaway, Ron Beauchamp Jr. (No. 60 Mopar/.Mobil 1 Dodge) and Dilley.
Coca-Cola Move of the Race: Improving his position the most over the course of the season-ending race was Shepherd, which earned him the $1,000 award from Coca-Cola. Beauchamp collected the year-end bonus.
MAHLE Clevite Engine Builder of the Race: The driver who compiles the most points in a specialized system involving qualifying, race finish and laps led collects this $1,100 special award. Shepherd garnered the most points to earn this bonus at Kawartha. Kennington earned the most points overall in 2010 to win the overall honor.
Vtech Free Pass: Vtech awarded the driver who logs the highest race finish after receiving a 'free pass' during the event with a $1,000 award. Shawn McGlynn (No. 56 B&B Decals/Wigs For Kids Dodge) was the recipient for the Kawartha 250. Joey McColm (No. 50 Race Time Radio/UltimateDrivers.ca/Watch It Dodge) earned the 2010 season-end bonus.
Year-End Awards Gala Set In Hall Of Fame
NASCAR will honor its 'stars of tomorrow' and short-track veterans by gathering them in the greater Charlotte (N.C.) area for two special year-end celebrations.
NASCAR will return to Charlotte with a special week of activities culminating with the 2010 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Awards Banquet on Friday, Dec. 10 and the NASCAR Night of Champions Touring Awards Gala on Saturday, Dec. 11. The banquets will be held at the Charlotte Convention Center's Crown Ballroom in the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
Fans throughout the U.S., Canada, and around the globe, will again be able to watch the festivities from both nights via a live webcast on nascarhometracks.com.
"With the recent opening of the NASCAR Hall of Fame, this is a tremendous opportunity to honor the top drivers throughout NASCAR's developmental series in a most appropriate setting: the showcase of our sport's history," said George Silbermann, NASCAR managing director of racing operations.
"The week-long schedule of special activities for our champions, track promoters and industry members will put the spotlight on the important series and tracks that make up NASCAR's foundation. We are especially pleased to be able to bring the events from both nights to fans everywhere -- who have followed their favorite drivers all season at their favorite tracks -- through the NASCAR Home Tracks website."
In addition to the new NASCAR Hall of Fame complex, the region is the home of the NASCAR Research & Development Center in Concord, N.C., as well as a majority of today's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, NASCAR Nationwide Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series teams.
The NASCAR Night of Champions Touring Awards Gala will feature the series champions and top drivers from NASCAR's regional touring series including invitees from the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East, the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West, the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour, and the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series presented by Mobil 1. Today, drivers from many of these key regional touring series are thrilling fans in each of NASCAR's three national series.
The Westin Charlotte will be the host hotel for both awards banquets.
Up Next: NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown
The 2011 NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown, the sport's premier short-track racing showcase will return to the Toyota Speedway at Irwindale (Calif.) on Jan. 28-29.
The eighth running of the event, which brings together the top racers from across North America and has grown into the"Daytona 500 of short-track racing," will be highlighted by the 225-lap NASCAR K&N Pro Series all-star race.
The NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown main event is broken up into three sections -- two 100-lap segments preceding a 25-lap dash to the finish. Last year, Joe Gibbs Racing driver Joey Logano became just the second driver to win two Showdowns when he held off a furious challenge over the closing laps from the 17-year-old Sergio Pena, who was making his series debut for Revolution Racing/Drive for Diversity.
The race features secured starting spots for the 2010 champions of NASCAR's developmental series and race winners of the NASCAR K&N Pro Series from the 2010 season. Eighteen-year-old Ryan Truex leads the field of drivers who have already earned spots, having recently wrapped up his second straight NASCAR K&N Pro Series East championship.
Other drivers who have secured starting spots include NASCAR K&N Pro Series race winners Ty Dillon, Max Gresham, Paulie Harraka, Erik Holmes, Patrick Long, David Mayhew, Brett Moffitt, Andrew Ranger, Greg Pursley, Auggie Vidovich, and Darrell Wallace Jr., in addition to NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national champion Keith Rocco and NASCAR Canadian Tire Series presented by Mobil 1 champion DJ Kennington.
The schedule also includes a 75-lap NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Super Late Model race and a 50-lap NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Late Model race. The top five NASCACR state champions in attendance will have secured starting spots in the Late Model race. New to this year, the 25-car fields for each of those races will be set by a pair of heat races -- 25 laps for the the Super Late Models and 20 laps for the Late Models.
Both nights of racing will air live on SPEED as part of full weekend of racing on SPEED that includes the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series' Rolex 24 at Daytona.
The NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown main event -- contested in NASCAR K&N Pro Series cars -- is open to any driver approved to drive on a half-mile or longer tracks in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series.
Current national series drivers such as Logano, Ricky Carmichael, Brian Ickler, Trevor Bayne, Matt Crafton, Ron Hornaday Jr. and Justin Lofton have competed in the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown.