Friday, June 18, 2010

JR Motorsports Unleash All-Canadian Driver Duo for Road America Nationwide Race

Photo Credit: James H. Heine/Editorial Solutions

While the Canadian Olympic hockey team gold metal performance demonstrated in Vancouver this past winter what we can do together as a country, the motorsport world has shown similar instances where a united front of Canada's best athletes. For this weekend's inaugural NASCAR Nationwide series round on the 4-mile Road America road course, the high-profile race team of JR Motorsports has entered two well-versed Canadian stock car drivers into their multi-car team. Taking part in the Bucyrus 200 NASCAR Nationwide Series race Saturday is Cambridge's J.R. Fitzpatrick and Mississauga's Ron Fellows.

Though sharing their Canadian nationality, Ron Fellows and J.R. Fitzpatrick share little else other than JR Motorsports-prepped Chevrolets. At age 50, Ron Fellows comes from strong footing in sports car racing to effectively spoil the show against NASCAR regulars. Successfully scoring victory in 6 total races in major NASCAR competition (4 Nationwide Series and 2 Camping World Truck races) Fellows is a designated road ringer at almost every NASCAR road race held for more than a decade. Joining JR Motorsports for the 3rd consecutive season, Fellows will be driving the #88 Chevrolet Impala sponsored by AER Manufacturing, a long-time affiliate of Fellow's racing career. Confident on the recent working relationship Fellows has with JR Motorsports, the more veteran Canadian said "I’m very optimistic on our chances for a solid run at Road America. With the powerful Hendrick horsepower we have under the hood and solid preparation the No. 88 AER team offers, we have as good a shot as anyone in the field to go to victory lane."

NASCAR Public Relations

J.R. Fitzpatrick, on the other hand, is a 22 year-old aspiring stock car great looking to break into the full-time ranks of one of NASCAR's top touring series. Thanks the Canada's wide variety of road courses on the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series schedule, Fitzpatrick has more than average experience turning left and right in stock car competition. Remarking first that he spent a week in a simulator and a long Thursday practice getting accustomed to the 4-mile Road America Circuit, Fitzpatrick continued “This is a great opportunity for me, and I’m excited to drive the No. 7 Schick Hydro Chevrolet. As a driver, surrounding yourself with good people and good equipment is all you can really ask for, and we’ve got that with JRM. Schick Hydro has been a wonderful sponsor of mine for some time, and I’m thankful to them for making this possible." Fitzpatrick will be taking the #7 Schick Hydro Chevrolet around Road America Saturday in hopes to once again add some luster to his NASCAR career south of the 49th parallel. His best finish so far is a 4th place finish in 2009 at the Camping World Truck Series in Daytona.

Photo Credit: Matthew Murnaghan/NASCAR

Perhaps the first time a major NASCAR series multi-car team has enlisted two Canadian drivers to run a race weekend, other avenues of auto racing have seen great triumphs result through the partnering of Canadian drivers. Among the most high-profile occurred during the days of the Players-sponsored Forsythe Racing days. First showing future Canadian talent Jacques Villeneuve accompanied by fellow French-Canadian Claude Bourbonnais. In 1998, when Forsythe Racing's CART World Series effort expanded to a second team, Patrick Carpentier was added alongside Greg Moore. With Carpentier remaining with Forsythe Racing for 7 seasons, he would also be paired with current IZOD IndyCar driver Alex Tagliani and 2003 Champ Car crown holder Paul Tracy. 22 CART/Champ Car victories were gained through the 7 seasons of Forsythe's year of two Canadian drivers. In one major triumph, the 2000 24 Hours of Le Mans LMP675 class victory was obtained by the Canadian-owned Multimatic Motorsport team contending with country-bred drivers John Graham, Scott Maxwell and Greg Wilkins.

Apart from Road America, JR Motorsports has also involved themselves with another young Canadian stock car driver Steve Arpin who has driven a handful of oval events so far in 2010. The ARCA regular Arpin will be present at the Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin track this weekend. Their will also be an additional Canadian in the 2010 NASCAR Nationwide event as former F1 drivers champion Jacques Villeneuve suits up for the #32 Dollar General Toyota of Braun Racing (the same team Villeneuve logged a 4th place finish at Montreal last season.

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