J.R.'s very hectic NASCAR weekend

DEAN MCNULTY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 6:34 PM ET

The NASCAR Canadian Tire Series is set to take on the 4.102 km road course at historic Mosport International Raceway this week in what is shaping up to be a battle of youth versus experience.

J.R. Fitzpatrick, at just 22-years-old, is already a two-time winner at the Mosport road course and he will face the likes of veteran road course specialist Robin Buck, 47, a winner this season at the ICAR Circuit in Montreal.

Fitzpatrick will also be fighting the clock and geography as he will race Saturday at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wis., in the NASCAR Nationwide Series before driving all night back to Mosport for the Vortex Brake Pads 200.

That means he will miss practice and qualifying at Mosport. As a result he will have to start at the back of the grid in the No. 84 Schick Hydro Chevrolet.

Fitzpatrick said is isn’t worried about starting from the back as he has shown in his two wins that he can make passes at the big track.

And he said he’s got the horsepower he needs to make it happen.

“If you have a car that can’t pull up that straightaway, then you’re going to have a long day at Mosport,” Fitzpatrick said. “But we will be fine.”

Also among the challengers for Fitzpatrick will be Kerry Micks in the No. 02 Dickies/Beyond Digital Imaging Ford.

Micks also has a formidable road course record with wins in Montreal and Trois Rivereres on his resume.

He said that pit stops are going to play an important role in the Mosport race.

“When a caution does come, you have to decide what’s most important at the time — fuel or tires,” he said. “Obviously, a fuel stop under green is easier than changing tires but everything depends on those yellows.”

Practice laps go Friday with qualifying Saturday and the race on Sunday.

GIBBS HITS WITH $150,000 FINE

Joe Gibbs Racing’s NASCAR Sprint Cup teams were hit with $150,000 in fines Tuesday after being caught using unapproved oil pans in pre-race inspection at Michigan International Speedway last week.

The fines amount to $50,000 each for the crew chiefs of the No. 18 Toyota of Kyle Busch, the No. 11 Toyota of Denny Hamlin and the No. 20 Toyota of Joey Logano.

On the bright side, the Gibbs teams were not docked any points for the infractions but seven JGR employees were placed on probation through Dec. 31.

Mike Ford (Hamlin), Dave Rogers (Busch) and Greg Zipadelli (Logano) were placed on probation. Additionally, car chiefs for the three teams — Chris Gillin (Hamlin), Wesley Sherrill (Busch) and Jason Shapiro (Logano) as well as JGR senior vice president of racing operations Jimmy Makar were placed on probation until Dec. 31.

According to a NASCAR release, the teams violated three rules: Actions detrimental to stock car racing, race equipment did not conform to NASCAR rules or had not been approved by NASCAR prior to the event and failure to submit component of an oil pan.

DEAN’S WEEKLY RANT

Red Bull’s announcement this week that it will end its NASCAR Sprint Cup program at the end of the current season sent shockwaves through the racing world.

It is the first setback at the Austrian energy drink colossus since it jumped into the world of motorsports with both feet about a decade ago.

When other big commercial concerns were consolidating their holdings in the mid-2000s Red Bull was expanding like it has a licence to print money.

When it purchased the former Jaguar team from Ford in 2004, it became a unique business model for motorsports — a team owner who was also the team sponsor.

Red Bull ventured into the unknown, fully funding the team and even expanding to a second team in 2006.

The next season Red Bull announced it was going NASCAR racing in North America with a two-car team bent on winning in the Sprint Cup series.

While no official amount has ever been made public as to Red Bull’s financial commitment to its three big racing teams, it would be — even by conservative estimates — in the neighbourhood of more than $200 million a season.

That would be one very expensive neighbourhood.

Red Bull is still the king of the energy drinks, but its market share has been shrinking with competition from the likes of Monster Energy, which is also heavily invested in motorsports.

One has to be concerned if its decision to quit NASCAR is only the first step in the dismantling of its racing holdings.


Videos

Photos