April 19, 2011
Go Canada Racing hits NASCAR tracks
By DEAN McNULTY, QMI Agency
The new owner of the No. 67 NASCAR Nationwide Series Go Canada Racing Ford Mustang wanted to make sure there was no doubt about the nationality of his team.
So Steve Meehan, a Toronto financial consultant and founder of the Investment Planning Counsel group, decided that his team would sport the same colours — red, black and white — as the myriad of Team Canadas that regularly hoist championship hockey trophies around the globe.
“I am passionate about Canada, I am passionate about business and I am passionate about NASCAR racing,” Meehan said Tuesday as he unveiled the team’s new car that will launch its season Saturday at Nashville (Tenn.) Superspeedway.
And to put his money where his mouth is, Meehan has signed 22-year-old JR Fitzpatrick, of Cambridge, Ont., to drive the No.67 Ford.
“We looked around and JR was on our radar right away,” Meehan said. “He was the youngest driver ever to win a Canadian stock car racing championship and he already had experience in the NASCAR Nationwide series.”
Fitzpatrick has competed in parts of two seasons in both the Nationwide and NASCAR Camping World Truck series for the Dale Earnhardt-owned JR Motorsports and Kevin Harvick Incorporated racing teams.
And this season he drove at Daytona and California for Baker Curb Racing — whose inventory of race cars Meehan purchased to start the Go Canada effort.
Fitzpatrick will drive in at least 10 more Nationwide races this season and possibly a couple of Sprint Cup races for Go Canada.
But first, he is looking forward to Nashville’s 1.3-mile concrete oval.
“I love concrete tracks,” he said. “And we have a Roush-Yates engine so we will have plenty of horsepower.”
Fitzpatrick, a hockey fan, also has dreams of putting his all-Canadian red, black and white race car in Victory Lane before the season is over.
Clint tells it like it is
In professional sports losing always sucks.
You can bet your last dollar that when every athlete who ever finished second stands up and says how happy he is just to be on the podium, he is lying through his teeth.
So it was refreshing to hear Clint Bowyer on Sunday admit he didn’t think finishing second by a history-matching .002 seconds was worth a damn in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Aaron’s 499 at Talladega Superspeedway.
“That sucks,” Bowyer said. “It’s never very good to know you made NASCAR history by losing. Sooner or later I need to start making history by winning.”
And he didn’t stop there, describing in detail the final moments of his loss by a foot to Jimmie Johnson:
“Man, what a bummer. I saw them coming, and (Jeff Gordon) and I were, you know, trying to suck off each other and break each other’s momentum and drag racing each other so much, I was like, oh, no, block ‘em, block ‘em, block ‘em. I knew if he dipped down to block them, that we had the race won. But we just came up short. It’s frustrating. I know the importance of getting a race win right now — it’s big.
“You know that win — if I would have won right there, it could have put me in the Chase. I was thinking about that. That’s going to be important throughout the year, and you know, that was a good shot at it. It just slipped through our fingers.”
He may not have won the race but he won our admiration for being honest.
Dean's rant of the week
The sight of Paul Tracy in the cockpit of the No. 8 Dragon Racing Dallara at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach this past weekend was indeed a welcome one.
Even at 42-years-old Tracy brings more vroom, verve and nerve to the IZOD IndyCar Series than more than half the starting grid.
Watching the “Thrill from West Hill” as he went from a tentative start — careful to rub much of the rust off of a nine-month absence from a race track — to weaving through traffic to end up seven spots up from his 23rd qualifying position was fun.
Imagine just how much more fun it would have been had Tracy been in a race car from the start of IndyCar testing at Sebring, through more testing at Barber Motorsports Park and in the first two races of the season.
That he wasn’t there is a question that deserves some answers from IndyCar boss Randy Bernard and several of the team owners who had a chance to put Tracy in one of their race cars for a full season.
Bernard even went as far — and rightly later apologized — as to say that Tracy doesn’t sell tickets.
Well, it says here that there would be some very worried executives in the promoter’s offices in Toronto and Edmonton had Jay Penske not come along to rescue at least part of the 2011 season for Tracy.
If IndyCar has any hopes of getting back all of those fans who migrated to NASCAR over the past decade it had better make sure that Tracy is the example of the kind of driver it wants to promote.
And in order to do this he needs to be in a race car at every event.