Fitzpatrick In Heated Battle For First NASCAR Title Having won the 2006 and final CASCAR Super Series title, JR Fitzpatrick already has his name in a record book and can call himself a champion. However, he wants to add his name to another list...
Fitzpatrick In Heated Battle For First NASCAR Title
Having won the 2006 and final CASCAR Super Series title, JR Fitzpatrick already has his name in a record book and can call himself a champion. However, he wants to add his name to another list and be called a NASCAR Canadian Tire Series presented by Mobil 1 champion.
"(Winning this championship) would mean a lot," said Fitzpatrick (No. 84 Schick Hydro Chevrolet). "I won the CASCAR title in 2006, which is pretty much the same thing, but it's really not. This one would be a NASCAR championship."
After running a partial schedule in 2009 while competing in several NASCAR Nationwide Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series events, Fitzpatrick, 22, was able to return to the series on a full-time basis this season with the expressed desire to win the season-long points battle and still be able to get some more NASCAR Nationwide Series starts under his belt with JR Motorsports, with which he has a pair of top-10 finishes.
"When I knew that I could race the whole season, I decided it was going to be for the title," he said.
His points battle with DJ Kennington started in the season's very first race, in which Fitzpatrick, out of Cambridge, Ont., finished as the runner-up to Kennington. Since then, the points lead has changed hands five times between the two close friends. Fitzpatrick currently holds the top spot, but only with a precarious 21-point lead.
"DJ and I used to talk about how cool it would be neck-and-neck for a championship," Fitzpatrick said. "Now that it is actually happening, it's not that cool. He's really good and I'd like to see him win it, just not at my expense."
Both drivers reconciled in their minds long ago that this chase for the championship would be decided at the season finale on Sept. 25 at Kawartha Speedway. However, the Komatsu 300 presented by Wilson Equipment on Sept. 18 at Riverside International Speedway in Antigonish, N.S., comes first and could play a significant role in this points battle.
In his two prior Nova Scotia starts -- 2007 and 2008 -- Fitzpatrick finished second. Kennington finished third in the 2007 event.
"I've had some good runs there. I really like that track," he said. "You can run on the outside and I'd stay out there all day long, if I can."
After this weekend, either Fitzpatrick or Kennington will be one step closer to a NASCAR championship.
The Race: Komatsu 300 presented by Wilson Equipment
The Place: Riverside Int'l Speedway,Antigonish, N.S.
The Date: Saturday, Sept. 18
The Time: 4:30 p.m. AT
The Distance: 300 laps / 99.99 miles
Race Purse: $93,738 CAD
TV Schedule: Sat., Sept. 25, 2 p.m. ET
2009 Winner: Andrew Ranger
2009 Polesitter: DJ Kennington
Schedule: Practice: 11 a.m. - noon.; Qualifying: 2:30 p.m.
Smith Brings More Local Flavor To Riverside Date
Each time the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series presented by Mobil 1 has visited Riverside International Speedway in Antigonish, N.S., local driver Donald Chisholm (No. 98 Nova Construction Ford) has proved to be a force with which to be reckoned. This year, he will be joined by fellow Maritime Pro Stock Tour competitor Wayne Smith, out of Timberlea, N.S.
Chisholm and Smith just completed the Maritime Pro Stock Tour season in which Chisholm finished third in points, just 13 tallies ahead of Smith, who closed out the season in fifth place.
Now, the two familiar foes will join forces under the Nova Racing banner to try and crash the party of full-time Canadian Tire Series competitors. Last season, Chisholm finished fifth in the Riverside event.
"This came together pretty fast over the past couple of weeks," said Smith. "It is exciting and I am looking forward to being a part of Riverside's NASCAR show. I've gone to watch the event since they started, but really didn't imagine the day would come that I would be in one of them.
"I really want to thank everyone at Nova Racing for putting this together," he added. "They are giving me the chance to fulfill a lifelong dream in racing with NASCAR."
Riverside News & Notes
The Race: This event is the 12th of 13 races on the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series presented by Mobil 1 schedule and the seventh of eight races on oval tracks this season. It is the series' fourth visit to the track.
The Procedure: The starting field is 24 cars, including provisionals. The first 21 cars will be determined through two-lap time trials. The remaining three spots will be awarded through the provisional process. The race will be 300 laps covering 99.99 miles.
The Track: Riverside Speedway originally opened in 1969 and was modeled after the legendary Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway. In 2005, the track was completely demolished and rebuilt including a new racing surface, concrete walls, lighting, grandstands and control tower. Like its U.S. counterpart in eastern Tennessee, Riverside features high-banked turns. Here, the turns are banked 14 degrees. The frontstretch is 440 feet long with a banking of six degrees while the back stretch is also 440 feet but with five-degree banking.
The Records: The one-lap qualifying record for the Canadian Tire Series is 14.883 seconds (80.548 mph), set by Peter Gibbons on Sept. 16, 2007. The 300-lap race record is held by Andrew Ranger at 1 hour, 30 minutes, 40 seconds, set last Sept. 20, for an average speed of 66.110 mph.
Last Year: Picking up the win was Ranger, who came on strong at the end of the race and beat runner-up Jeff Lapcevich to the finish line by over nine seconds.
Out Of The Rut: Looking for a change of luck in Nova Scotia will be DJ Kennington as he battles JR Fitzpatrick for the series title. Kennington has failed to finish the race in his last two starts at Riverside as a result of mechanical failures. However, he did finish third in the 2007 event.
Different Schedule: As a result of battling Mother Nature in two of the three series trips to the Canadian Maritimes, the race day schedule has been compressed this year with the Komatsu 300 slated to go green at 4:30 p.m. AT. This will allow NASCAR and track officials more time to get the race in on Saturday.
NCATS Notebook: Wild Wing 300 Wrap-Up
Racking Them Up: With his Wild Wing 300 win, DJ Kennington (No. 17 Castrol Edge Dodge) now has four victories -- all on ovals -- in 2010. That total equals Scott Steckly's mark of four wins in his championship season of 2008. With eight career triumphs, he is also tied with Steckly for the second-most victories in series history. Andrew Ranger leads all drivers with 12 career wins.
Closing In: With a third-place showing at Barrie, Pete Shepherd III (No. 7 National Exhaust/Gates Dodge) posted his best series career finish in just eight starts. The former Roush Fenway Racing driver could find Victory Lane very soon.
Welcome Back: Two drivers -- Kent Nuhn (No. 81 The Fuel Genie/RC Trailers Dodge) and Kenny Forth (No. 00 DJK Racing Dodge) made their 2010 series debuts at Barrie.
Mobil 1 Command Performance Driver of the Race: Don Thomson Jr. (No. 4 Home Hardware Chevrolet) collected $1,500 from Mobil 1 as the Command Performance Driver of the Race Award winner. It was his second Mobil 1 award this season.
Autolite Time To Change Your Position: This award goes to the driver who improves his finishing position the most over the previous event. Kennington earned the $1,500 prize by bouncing back from a 28th-place finish at Montreal on August 29 to win at Barrie Speedway.
Dodge-Mopar Fast Five: This program rewards the top five finishing Dodges in the race eligible for the award. In the Wild Wing 300, race winner Kennington had the top-finishing Dodge and earned $2,000. Shepherd placed second among the Dodges with his third-place effort and earned $1,500. Steckly (No. 22 Canadian Tire/MotoMaster Dodge) grabbed the third spot and $1,000. The performance of Ron Beauchamp Jr. (No. 60 Mopar/Mobil 1 Dodge) ranked him fourth among the Dodge entrants and netted $750. Jason Hathaway (No. 3 Snap-on Tools/Vortex Brake Pads Dodge) finished 10th overall and was the fifth highest-finishing Dodge and collected $500 in the process.
Coca-Cola Move of the Race: Improving his position the most over the course of the race was Thomson. He started from the 10th position and finished second, which earned him the $1,000 award from Coca-Cola.
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. Steckly garnered the most points to earn this bonus.
Vtech Free Pass: Vtech is honoring the driver who logs the highest race finish after receiving a 'free pass' during the event with a $1,000 award. Thomson was a lap down early and worked his way back into contention.
Up Next: Kawartha
The NASCAR Canadian Tire Series presented by Mobil 1 next heads to Kawartha Speedway in Fraserville, Ont., for the Kawartha 250, the 2010 season finale, where a new champion will be crowned.
Closing out the season at the .375-mile progressive-banked track has become a series tradition.
Kawartha is the opposite of Dover (Del.) International Speedway in that the horse track is on the outside of the race track.
A year ago, DJ Kennington picked up the win in a rain-shortened event by outlasting Kerry Micks and Don Thomson Jr. Ron Beauchamp started from the pole and led a race-high 65 laps before settling for a fifth-place finish.
By simply starting the race, Andrew Ranger sealed his second series title in three seasons.