Fitzpatrick’s third-place run earned him the championship after finishing ahead of fellow ‘Chase for the Cup’ competitors Glenn Watson and Gary Passer. Fitzpatrick started the two-day show with third- and fourth-place heat finishes to earn the fourth starting spot in the 50-lap main event on Sunday.
“It was an interesting race. I started fourth, got to second and I was challenging for the lead. The car was decent, but it was getting tighter and tighter,” Fitzpatrick said of his car as he tried to chase down leader Derrick Tiemersma.
“It was pretty good at the beginning, but it still didn’t feel right. Tiemersma has a really good car.”
Midway through the race, Fitzpatrick was sent to the rear of the field after he made contact with Gary Passer.
“I got sent to the back for dumping Gary (Passer), when he came out of the pits,” Fitzpatrick said. “I was just riding around. I had a plan to try and stay ahead of the No.22. He and I started racing pretty hard. He was behind me for a while and I knew he was there. It was nothing crazy, just good hard racing. Then I got into Gary and had to go to the back.”
A short while later, Watson was also forced to the rear of the field after he was spun during contact with Roy Passer, Fitzpatrick’s teammate. Some fans saw it as a deliberate attempt to help the No.84 win the championship, a theory Fitzpatrick dismisses.
“Everybody has been saying there were ‘team orders’. Roy and Glenn have had issues the last two or three races. Whatever there issue is, Roy felt he was going to pay him back at that point in time,” Fitzpatrick said.
“It looks bad from my side, people thinking he did it on purpose for me. He didn’t. They’re blaming me for that. I don’t understand because I only drive one car.”
Late in the race, Watson passed Fitzpatrick for third, which led to a furious battle at the finish. Fitzpatrick passed Watson late with a bump and run move to secure the championship.
“I had a bad restart where I checked up and Glenn got by me. With two to go, I went into turn one thinking I was going to move him coming out of turn two. I got in pretty deep and I gave him a really good shot,” Fitzpatrick explained.
“I was planning on moving him, but I wasn’t planning on doing it that aggressively. I moved him and kept trucking. I did what I had to do.”
The championship is Fitzpatrick’s first as a driver-owner. He was previously the CASCAR Super Series National champion in 2006.
“It’s pretty cool considering it was my own deal. There wasn’t anybody working on the cars full-time. My dad didn’t own the deal it was my own. It’s pretty cool winning my own first championship. We worked really hard for it,” he said.
JR Fitzpatrick would like to thank his fiancée Alaura-Lee and daughter Emma-Lee for their support throughout the 2016 as well as his dedicated team and sponsors.
JR Fitzpatrick – 13 Starts: 2 Wins, 11 Top-5s, 11 Top-10s
JR Fitzpatrick’s 2016 OSCAAR Super Late Model season is presented by a number of dedicated sponsors, including: Auto Parts Centres, Meineke Car Care, Transaxle Heavy Truck & Trailer Parts, Cambridge Rigging, Equipment Express, Jenco Equipment, McColl Racing Enterprises, Creative Edge Signs, Wix Filters, Permatex, Driven Steering Wheels, Spray Nine, Deon Racecars, APX Racewear, Clayton Johns Media and ImageFactor.ca Motorsport Designs.
Prepared By Clayton Johns Media