EDMONTON – For the second consecutive race, J.R. Fitzpatrick used a last lap pass to win. This time the victim was Andrew Ranger, who led the first 31 of the 32-lap NASCAR Canadian Tire Series event at the Rexall Grand Prix Edmonton in front of 60,132 fans. Fitzpatrick dove to the inside when Ranger slid up the track in turn 12 of the 14-turn street course as the field was coming to take the checkered flag.
A week ago at Sunvalley Speedway in Vernon, B.C., Fitzpatrick, 19, passed Scott Steckly on turn four coming to the winner’s cloth.
Ranger, the pole sitter, dominated in the early going and built a five-second lead in just nine laps. Fitzpatrick did not allow himself to get discouraged and was firm in sticking with his strategy of patience. Despite starting alongside Ranger on the front row, Fitzpatrick surrendered the second-place position to Kerry Micks over the middle portion of the race. Micks retired his car after 21 laps due to rear suspension problems.
Fitzpatrick’s patience paid off as his car got better as the race wore on, while Ranger was battling a transmission problem.
“I could tell he was getting really loose a few times and I wanted to be there when he slid up the track,” said Fitzpatrick. “I missed a couple of chances, but going through turn 12 I was able to get him on the inside.”
Ranger, although a little disappointed, was happy with the results considering he was struggling with second gear near the end of the race.
“Every time I downshifted into second gear, the car was very loose,” said Ranger. “(Fitzpatrick’s) car was really fast at the end. He made a great pass and he deserves all the credit.”
For Fitzpatrick, out of Cambridge, he is the first two-time winner in the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series presented by Sirius Satellite Radio. The series began operation just this year.
Road course specialist Robin Buck worked his was up from the ninth starting position to finish third. D.J. Kennington and former Hamilton resident Don Thomson Jr. finished fourth and fifth, respectively.
Hamilton’s Jim Lapcevich, Peter Gibbons, Dave Whitlock, Brad Graham and Jason Hathaway rounded out the top 10.
The race was slowed by just three caution periods covering 12 laps.
In the championship point standings, Ranger was able to extend his lead from just 12 points coming into the race to 30 points (818 to 783) over Fitzpatrick, who took over the second spot in the rankings. Peter Gibbons slid from second to third, but is just six points behind Fitzpatrick and 36 off Ranger’s pace. Thomson is sixth with 740 points.
The Canadian Tire Series resumes on Aug. 4 at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal. The race will be in combination with the NASCAR Busch Series’ debut in Canada.
Saturday’s NASCAR Canadian Tire Series results
Lap length: 1.973 miles
(Start position in parentheses)
1. (2) J.R. Fitzpatrick, Cambridge, Chevrolet, 32 laps, 61.132 mph, $3,735.
2. (1) Andrew Ranger, Roxton Pond, Que., Ford, 32, $3,480.
3. (9) Robin Buck, Campbellville, Ont., Ford, 32, $1,660.
4. (8) D.J. Kennington, St. Thomas, Ont., Dodge, 32, $3,150.
5. (6) Don Thomson, Ayr, Ont., Chevrolet, 32, $1,025.
6. (15) Jim Lapcevich, Hamilton, Chevrolet, 32, $995.
7. (13) Peter Gibbons, Stouffville, Ont., Chevrolet, 32, $970.
8. (4) Dave Whitlock, Petrolia, Ont., Dodge, 32, $2,200.
9. (7) Brad Graham, Glencoe, Ont., Dodge, 32, $1,925.
10. (18) Jason Hathaway, Appin, Ont., Dodge, 32, $1,395.
11. (10) Mark Dilley, Barrie, Ont., Dodge, 32, $990.
12. (12) Trevor Seibert, Williams Lake, B. C., Ford, 32, $715.
13. (14) Derek Lynch, Warksworth, Ont., Dodge, 32, $690.
14. (11) Kevin Dowler, Sherwood Park, Alberta, Ford, 32, $675.
15. (24) Doug Brown, Brantford, Dodge, 32, $665.
16. (17) Joey McColm, Ajax, Dodge, 32, $650.
17. (25) Pierre Bourque, Ottawa, Dodge, 32, $640.
18. (22) James Van Domselaar, Ft. Saskatchewan, Alberta, Chevrolet, 32, $625.
19. (26) John Gaunt, Barrie, Dodge, 32, $615.
20. (21) Jim White, Kamloops, B.C., Dodge, 32, $585.
21. (23) Todd Nichol, St. Albert, Chevrolet, 32, $575.
22. (27) Kent Nuhn, Williamsford, Ont.,Pontiac, 32, $560.
23. (29) Jason White, Sun Peaks, B.C., Chevrolet, 32, $550.
24. (28) Carl Harr, St. Albert, Chevrolet, 32, $535.
25. (20) Daryl Harr, St. Albert, Chevrolet, 32, $525.
26. (16) Ron Beauchamp, Windsor, Dodge, 28, differential, $510.
27. (5) Scott Steckly, Milverton, Ont., Dodge, 27, $485.
28. (30) Trent Guest, Medicine Hat, Alberta, Dodge, 23, $485.
29. (3) Kerry Micks, Mt. Albert, Ont., Ford, 21, suspension, $485.
30. (19) Wade Lee, Calgary, Chevrolet, 15, accident, $485.
Time of Race: 1 hour 1 minute 58 seconds; Margin of victory: .585 seconds; Fastest qualifier: .Ranger (87.353 mph, 81.311 seconds); Caution flags: 3 for 12 laps; Lead changes: 1 among 2 drivers.