Nationwide driver dialled in

DEAN MCNULTY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:53 PM ET

DAYTONA — J.R. Fitzpatrick needs only to be 43rd best of 44 drivers on Friday to qualify for his first NASCAR Nationwide series race at Daytona International Speedway.

However, the 22-year-old from Cambridge, Ont., has set his goals much higher than that.

In fact, he is so confident he will do well in Saturday’s DRIVE4COPD 300, that the No. 27 Schick/Energizer Ford team skipped the final practice session on Thursday.

“We had the car dialled in after the second practice (Wednesday),” Fitzpatrick said. “We figured: Why screw around with a good thing?”

Fitzpatrick, may be a rookie in the Nationwide series, but he has a fourth-place finish on his resume at Daytona racing in the Camping World Truck series last season with Kevin Harvick Incorporated.

“This car is way faster than the truck, but I have the same feeling with it as I had when I finished fourth here last year,” he said.

Certainly, he has gotten faster each time out of the track.

In his first practice, Fitzpatrick posted a fastest lap of 182.812 m.p.h., 40th of 44 cars on the speed chart. But one hour later, Fitzpatrick drove the No. 27 Ford to 16th fastest with a top speed of 194.145 m.p.h.

BIG SPLASH

A company from tiny Beaverlodge, Alta., is making a big splash at the Daytona 500.

Super Eco-Fuel Saver, a gasoline additive that, according to a company press release, “reformulates hydrocarbon molecular chains” to burn fuel more efficiently.

The company was the primary sponsor on the No. 71 TRG Motorsports Chevrolet driven by Andy Lally in Thursday’s Twin 150s.

And it will be there again Sunday in the Daytona 500.

“We are excited to have Super Eco-Fuel Saver emblazoned on the No. 71 TRG Motorsports Chevrolet Impala SS,” Rick Stewart, company CEO said.

FINISH LINES

Nationwide driver Mike Wallace has no time for those drivers who are complaining about the high speeds on Daytona’s newly paved surface. “Don’t slow the cars,” he said. “Men should be able to run over 200 miles per hour. If you’re scared, lift (take your foot off the gas).” ... The SAFER (Steel and Foam Energy Reduction) barrier at Daytona paid dividends Thursday when the No. 52 Nationwide Chevrolet of Bobby Santoz slammed into the wall at full speed during morning practice. The barrier was destroyed, the No. 52 car was destroyed but Santoz walked away relatively unscathed. .. Maybe Jimmie Johnson will finally have a nick name that will stick after A.J. Allmendinger hooked up with the five-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Thursday in the Gatorade Duel 150. “I got to hook up with five-time and made him a friend of mine,” Allmendinger said.

dean.mcnulty@sunmedia.ca


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