J.R. Fitzpatrick will face a laundry list of challenges and a new set of adventures in 2015. The former NASCAR Canada driver will race the entire 12-event OSCAAR Super Late Model tour in 2015 for the first time.
“There’s nothing that drives like these. The outlaw stuff, it’s totally different,” said Fitzpatrick of his decision to race Super Late Models full-time. “They’re the best racecar I’ve ever driven.”
Fitzpatrick will compete as a teammate to veteran driver Roy Passer. The new venture for Fitzpatrick will allow him to spend more time with his family, fiancée Alaura-Lee Passer and daughter Emma-Lee.
“I’m looking forward to more of a friendly, family-oriented environment. Yet, we’re still going to race the fastest cars in Ontario,” said Fitzpatrick.
“Super Late Models are way faster than the NCATS cars and they’re way less expensive. I’m looking forward to hanging around with my friends and family and going faster.”
Fitzpatrick’s brand new McColl Racing Enterprises ride will feature his familiar No.84. It was engineered specifically for a GM Crate engine; an option Fitzpatrick will use to his advantage. The Ayr, Ont. native has experience at all six OSCAAR tracks, and believes a championship run is about consistency.
“I think the only place I’m going to have a disadvantage is actually going to be Delaware and Flamboro, only because of the crate motor program,” said Fitzpatrick.
“If we can go there and run top-five and still make-up points, that’s good.”
Make no mistake. Fitzpatrick doesn’t expect his first full season aboard a “Super” to be a walk in the park. That hasn’t stopped him from setting his goals high.
“It’s going to be tough to come in to a new series and be up front every week,” said Fitzpatrick. “My first goal is to win a race. I think we’re more than capable of winning race.”
The 26 year-old’s last championship came in 2006 when he won the CASCAR Super Series at just 18. An OSCAAR win, or a championship, would be at the top of the list of accomplishments for Fitzpatrick, he said.
“It’s different when you’re running for someone else,” said Fitzpatrick. “Building your own stuff, having your own team and then you go out and win – that’s going to be a whole new meaning to me.”
Fitzpatrick is prepared to spend considerable time testing his new outlaw before the OSCAAR season opens on May 17 at Sunset Speedway.
“I have to familiarize myself with my car,” he said. “You have to know the comfort zone, you have to know the surrounding, and you have to know what the car itself wants and needs.”
A familiarity with the car will go a long ways for Fitzpatrick, who will face a new challenge with race length. OSCAAR’s 50-lap feature distance is considerably shorter than 300-lap NASCAR Canada events. Fitzpatrick also admits he isn’t a fan of heat races and will have to adapt to them as well.
“The biggest think I have to learn is to pace myself,” said Fitzpatrick. “Knowing when to push and when not to push in heat races is the biggest thing I’ve got to learn.”
There will be a learning curve for Fitzpatrick, but one he will certainly embrace. If anybody can tame Canada’s fastest full-bodied stock cars in their first full season, Fitzpatrick is the driver capable of it.
Fitzpatrick’s 2015 is supported by Meineke Car Care, Transaxle Parts, Jenco Equipment, Cambridge Rigging, Equipment Express, Bert Transmissions, Creative Edge Signs and Graphics, Driven Steering Wheels and McColl Racing Enterprises.
By Clayton Johns