NASCAR Canadian Tire Series presented by Mobil 1 driver JR Fitzpatrick turned in a dominating performance Sunday at Mosport International Raceway to take the Vortex Brake Pads 200 checkered flag.
Fitzpatrick, from Cambridge, Ont., took the lead on Lap 5 and held off challenges from Jason Bowles and defending race winner Andrew Ranger during the 51-circuit race for his fifth career victory, and second at the 2.459-mile road course in his home province.
“We’re here to win the championship this season,” Fitzpatrick said. “You have to do well on the road courses to win this series and this is a good start.”
Fitzpatrick previously won at Mosport International Raceway in 2008. He now has at least one win in each of the four seasons he has competed in the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series.
Not particularly known as a road racer, four of Fitzpatrick’s five series wins have come in road-course events having the two wins at Mosport and victories in Edmonton and Montreal. His lone oval-track triumph came in 2007 at Motoplex Speedway in Vernon, B.C.
“I’m an oval guy, not a road-course guy, but I’ll take every win I can get,” he said.
Fitzpatrick’s Schick Hydro Chevrolet blew an engine in Saturday’s practice session in which he was running times better than the track record, but his team was able to make the change and the back-up engine didn’t seem too far off the mark. He qualified on the outside pole with a time comparable to what the primary motor had posted.
“Yesterday was not a great start to the weekend, but the guys did a great job at getting the car back together,” he said. “I didn’t notice any difference between the two motors.”
Ranger, who had the upper hand early in the race, led 10 of the race’s first 20 laps. But on a Lap 5 restart after the first caution of the day, Fitzpatrick was able to get past the defending series champ, and he spent the balance of the race in the lead except for seven laps led by Bowles after Ranger and Fitzpatrick made a stop to change tires. In all, Fitzpatrick led a race-high 35 laps.
Ranger, who finished as the race runner-up, earlier in the day earned his sixth series-career pole—third at Mosport International Raceway—with a track record lap of 84.041 seconds that eclipsed the mark of 85.119 seconds he established last season.
“The car was really good. It was perfect,” said Ranger. “It was pretty amazing since we have spent very little time with it. I wasn’t even supposed to be here, but (car owner) Dave Jacombs put a deal together at the last minute.”
Ranger is not defending his 2009 series title as he is concentrating on his NASCAR K&N Pro Series East team in the United States.
Still Ranger was clearly disappointed that he did not have a better opportunity to battle with Fitzpatrick, his on-track rival since the inception of the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series in 2007, and claim his 10th series win, but the circumstances did not work in his favor.
“The cautions did not come at the right times for us today,” he said. “I wanted a caution toward the end to close the gap and get a chance at the win, but it didn’t happen.”
He was followed across the line by Bowles, Scott Steckly and Kerry Micks.
Sunday marked the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series debut for Bowles, who is the reigning NASCAR K&N Pro Series West champion.
Bowles played tire strategy and it nearly paid off. His was the only car among the leaders that did not take on tires in the 125-mile (200 kilometer) race.
“I think I was the only one not to change tires which gave us the necessary track position,” he stated. “But when the sun came out we lost some forward bite and I just couldn’t hold them off.”
Bowles is set to be back in the Triad Racing Technologies Dodge in July when the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series visits Toronto as part of the Honda Indy Toronto weekend.
“This was a good start for us and gives us something to build on for Toronto,” Bowles said. “We were a little behind from the beginning, I think because of me, but we have a handle on it now.”
DJ Kennington, Jeff Lapcevich, Don Thomson Jr., Mark Dilley and Jason Hathaway rounded out the top 10 finishers.
There were four lead changes involving three drivers and the race was slowed due to caution just two times for seven laps.
In the championship point standings, Fitzpatrick took over the top spot and leads Kennington, who won the season opener, by 25 points. Jeff Lapcevich, in third, is just 49 points off Fitzpatrick’s pace. In each of the past three seasons, the points leader following the Mosport road-course event has gone on to win the series title.
The Vortex Brake Pads 200 will be telecast on TSN and TSN HD on Sunday, June 20 at noon ET.
The NASCAR Canadian Tire Series presented by Mobil 1 will return to action at Autodrome St. Eustache (Que.) on Saturday, July 3.
NASCAR CANADIAN TIRE SERIES presented by MOBIL 1-Vortex Brake Pads 200 Results
At Mosport International Raceway
Lap length: 2.459 miles
(Start position in parentheses)
1. (2) JR Fitzpatrick, Cambridge, Ont., Chevrolet, 51 laps, 81.523 mph, $8,100.
2. (1) Andrew Ranger, Roxton Pond, Que., Dodge, 51, $6,000.
3. (11) Jason Bowles, Ontario, Calif., Dodge, 51, $4,500.
4. (5) Scott Steckly, Milverton, Ont., Dodge, 51, $4,500.
5. (3) Kerry Micks, Mt. Albert, Ont., Ford, 51, $2,600.
6. (4) DJ Kennington, St. Thomas, Ont., Dodge, 51, $3,000.
7. (7) Jeff Lapcevich, Grimsby, Ont., Chevrolet, 51, $1,900.
8. (10) Don Thomson, Jr., Hamilton, Ont., Chevrolet, 51, $3,300.
9. (6) Mark Dilley, Barrie, Ont., Dodge, 51, $2,400.
10. (13) Jason Hathaway, Appin, Ont., Dodge, 51, $2,050.
11. (16) Gary Klutt, Halton Hills, Ont., Chevrolet, 51, $1,450.
12. (12) Peter Klutt, Halton Hills, Ont., Chevrolet, 51, $1,400.
13. (9) Ron Beauchamp, Jr., Windsor, Ont., Dodge, 51, $1,350.
14. (19) Howie Scannell, Jr., Milton, Ont., Dodge, 50, $1,325.
15. (18) Pierre Bourque, Ottawa, Ont., Dodge, 50, $1,300.
16. (23) Dexter Stacey, Kahnawake, Que., Dodge, 50, $1,250.
17. (22) Derek White, Kahnawake, Que., Chevrolet, 49, $1,250.
18. (20) Jason White, Sun Peaks, B.C., Chevrolet, 48, $1,200.
19. (25) Caitlin Johnston, Orangeville, Ont., Dodge, 46, $1,200.
20. (15) Trevor Seibert, Williams Lake, B.C., Ford, 43, radiator, $1,150.
21. (24) Joey McColm, Ajax, Ont., Dodge, 38, $2,150.
22. (14) Robin Buck, Campbellville, Ont., Ford, 32, overheating, $1,100.
23. (17) Jarrad Whissell, Calgary, Alberta, Ford, 16, accident, $1,100.
24. (21) Shawn McGlynn, Kitchener, Ont., Dodge, 12, engine, $1,050.
25. (8) Anthony Simone, Holland Landing, Ont., Chevrolet, 9, drive shaft, $1,025.
26. (26) David Thorndyke, Oshawa, Ont., Chevrolet, 0, did not start, $1,000.
Time of Race: 1 hour 32 minutes 18 seconds
Margin of Victory: 5.750 seconds
Fastest Qualifier: A.Ranger (105.334 mph, 84.041 seconds)
Caution Flags: 2 for 7 laps.
Lead Changes: 4 among 3 drivers.
Lap Leaders: A. Ranger 1-5; J. Fitzpatrick 6-16; A. Ranger 17-20; J. Bowles 21-27; J. Fitzpatrick 28-51.
Standings: 1. J. Fitzpatrick, 365; 2. D. Kennington, 340; 3. J. Lapcevich, 316; 4. K. Micks, 298; 5. S. Steckly, 275; 6. M. Dilley, 270; 7. P. Bourque, 268; 8. J. Hathaway, 268; 9. R. Beauchamp,Jr., 266; 10. D. White, 258.