Hamilton’s Thomson settles for eighth in NASCAR event


nascarcanadaJR Fitzpatrick completed his domination of the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series presented by Mobil 1 at Edmonton City Centre Airport by winning the Canadian Tire 100 presented by Konica Minolta on Sunday.

The 22-year-old Cambridge, Ont., driver had topped his competition throughout the three days of action on the 1.973-mile, 14-turn temporary road course. He was quickest in practice sessions on Friday and Saturday and won the pole in qualifying on Saturday in his No. 84 Schick Hydro Chevrolet.

“The car was really good today. We’ve been battling a handling problem all weekend, but it handled pretty well in the race,” said Fitzpatrick.

It was Fitzpatrick’s second win of the 2010 campaign and the sixth of his series career including a 2007 win in Edmonton. Cutting his teeth on the short tracks of Ontario, he has developed into a road-course ace – five of his career wins and both victories in 2010 have come on road courses, having won at Mosport International Raceway in June.

Fitzpatrick, who led all 32 laps, pulled away from his competition at the drop of the green and held off all challengers en route to the victory. Runner-up Anthony Simone looked to be closing in, but a Lap 18 caution flag put a damper on the challenge and Fitzpatrick was able to escape on the restart on Lap 21.

“I saw (Simone) creeping closer and closer,” Fitzpatrick said. “We’ve been experimenting with some different fans in the car, but I turned those off during the caution and the car took off after that.”

Simone, coming off an eighth-place finish in points last season, is not off to a good start in 2010 including a 30th-place finish a week ago in Toronto making his Edmonton performance critical to the season’s success.

“This was just like a win for us,” said Simone, out of Holland Landing, Ont., “(Fitzpatrick) had a better car today, but we’ve struggled so much and I hope that we can build some momentum now. If the caution flag had not come out, then maybe we could have gotten to the last 10 laps and made a run. We’ll take second place. It was a good day.”

Scott Steckly was able to secure third place with a last-lap pass of Trevor Seibert, who ended up with a fourth-place finish while Kerry Micks, who started alongside Fitzpatrick on the front row, finished in fifth.

The battle between Steckly and Seibert was a race within the race all day long. The two cars were seemingly linked together as neither driver could gain any substantial advantage over the other.

“Seibert’s car was definitely better than ours at the beginning,” said Steckly. “There aren’t very many good passing zones here and he was a little better there, too, which made it hard to set him up for a pass. Finally, there on the last lap I was able to get by him.”

Rounding out the top-10 finishers were Halton Hills’ Peter Klutt, Jason Hathaway, Hamilton’s Don Thomson Jr., Jarrad Whissell and Joey McColm.

The race was slowed due to caution just one time for three laps when Daryl Harr’s car came to a stop on the front stretch.

In the championship point standings, Fitzpatrick trailed DJ Kennington by 41 points coming into the event, but the win coupled with Kennington’s 15th-place finish resulted in Fitzpatrick taking over the top spot by 31 points over Kennington.

The Canadian Tire 100 presented by Konica Minolta will be telecast on TSN on Sunday, Aug. 1 at 11 a.m. ET.

The NASCAR Canadian Tire Series presented by Mobil 1 continues its swing through Western Canada on Saturday, July 31 at Motoplex Speedway in Vernon, B.C., for the Cruisin’ The Dub 300 presented by A&W.