Lack of practice time doesn’t irk Fitzpatrick

DEAN McNULTY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:18 PM ET

NASCAR Canadian Tire Series drivers will get only a single practice and 15 minutes of qualifying on Friday for the Jumpstart 100 at the opening day of the Honda Indy Toronto.

And on a 2.82-km temporary street course, that might not be near enough track time to get ready for 100 kms of racing Saturday, when the stock cars make a comeback to Toronto streets after a five-year absence.

J.R. Fitzpatrick, however, driver of the No. 84 Schick Chevrolet, shrugged off any fears he, at least, won’t be ready to tackle the tough course on race day.

“Sure everybody would like to get more track time,” he said Thursday as the Fitzpatrick Racing team prepared his car. “But if it is the same rules for everybody, it shouldn’t be a problem.”

On a street course, more than on a road course, and more than on an oval, track position will be king and the one sure way to get it is to start at the front of the grid, making Friday’s qualifying crucial.

Add to that the fact that there will be, at last count, 32 cars attempting to win the pole position, and you have a recipe for an overheated session.

Fitzpatrick isn’t so sure the race will be won or lost in Friday’s qualifying, pointing out that Edmonton’s Kevin Dowler started dead last at the Exhibition Place track in 2002 and won the race.

“It will be important, certainly, to have a good starting position but Dowler came from the back to win so you know it’s possible,” he said.

Although Fitzpatrick, 22, a native of Cambridge, Ont., learned his craft on short ovals around Ontario, his wins on Edmonton’s City Centre airport’s circuit and at Mosport’s 4-km road course have made him one of the favourites to be in victory lane on Saturday.

It also helped him to land a contract with JR Motosports to drive he No. 7 Chevrolets in the NASCAR Nationwide series at Watkins Glen in two weeks and at the NAPA 200 at Montreal’s Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in August.


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