Rain equals havoc at Mosport

DEAN MCNULTY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:51 AM ET

BOWMANVILLE -- It's the only rule in NASCAR racing that almost never gets broken -- 3,400-pound stock cars don't race in the rain.

They can, but yesterday in the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series Dickies 200 at Mosport International Raceway, the evidence was plain for all to see why they shouldn't.

A downpour at the four-kilometre road course with less than 10 laps to go sent many of the 29 cars on the grid sideways, backwards and almost every way but in a straight line.

After NASCAR officials decided to end the race with a two-lap green-white-checkered finish, 20-year-old J.R. Fitzpatrick, of Ayr, Ont., was the last man standing, winning his first race of the season in the No. 84 Fitzpatrick Racing Chevrolet.

Even he admitted that it was "crazy" racing in the rain.

"I kept seeing guys spin out all over the place," said Fitzpatrick, whose team switched to grooved rain tires on his final pit stop. "I had watched a tape of the 2003 race here in a thunderstorm yesterday and learned some things and every time I saw somebody in front of me spin I said to myself 'let's not do that'. "

D.J. Kennington drove all night after racing in the NASCAR Nationwide series Meijer 300 at Kentucky Speedway where he finished 26th, to get to Mosport. He brought his No. 17 Castrol Dodge home second. Fitzpatrick's teammate Don Thomson Jr. was third in the No. 4 Home Hardware Chevrolet.

Scott Steckly in the No. 22 ERB Transport Dodge and Alex Tagliani, in his first road course race in the No. 7 Wal-Mart Ford, rounded out the top five.

"On the final lap, I just wanted to win; I guess maybe I'm too young to be afraid of how crazy it was," Fitzpatrick said.

Kennington said his reward for a podium finish will be to get to bed.

"We left Sparta (Ky.) at about midnight and rolled into Mosport at 9 a.m.," Kennington said of the 950-km trip.

Thomson, a six-time Canadian stock car driving champion, said he wasn't about to try to follow what Fitzpatrick was doing on the track.

"I must be getting old and conservative because there is no way I had balls big enough to do what he did," Thomson said.

The victory was an emotional Father's Day gift for team owner John Fitzpatrick who has spent much of the past year recovering from serious injuries suffered in a motorcycle accident in April of 2007.

"Maybe I'll get back in (a race car) again," he said.

The senior Fitzpatrick was annoyed, however, at what he considered unfair treatment of Chevrolet teams by NASCAR.

"NASCAR put in rules that put us way down on horsepower from the Dodges and Fords," he said.

In fact, Peter Gibbons a life-long Chevrolet driver, switched to Ford at Mosport to try to even the playing field. And until the rain came he led the most laps in his No. 1 Canadian Tire Ford Fusion, eventually falling back to finish ninth.


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