[media-credit id=4 align=”alignleft” width=”266″][/media-credit]A couple weeks before the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season opener at Daytona International Speedway, fans learned that J.R. Fitzpatrick had struck a deal to drive for TurnOne Racing this season. However, it wasn’t just a quick last minute deal.
“Stacy and I had been talking well over a year, putting this deal together,” Fitzpatrick says. “Even though we still got a couple gaps to go for the remaining parts of the year to be able to run full season here.”
The opening race at Daytona didn’t go as Fitzpatrick would’ve hoped as he finished 34th due to debris hitting the radiator.
“It’s just unfortunate that we didn’t have a truck that was very fast by itself, so obviously we had to start at the back,” he says. “It worked really well, it sucked up in the draft really well. I think if we would’ve missed the wreck, we would’ve been good.
“I hung around the back, tried to stay away from all the wrecks, but ended up involved in one. So you go to front, you go to the back, I don’t know. Its just a big chess game. So our strategy didn’t work.”
Now focus shifts to this weekend at Martinsville Speedway where Fitzpatrick is hoping to have a good finish.
“The track is exciting,” he says. “Obviously it’s a little more familiar to what I’m used to, in terms of short track racing. Even though it’s definitely a lot bigger than tracks at home, it’s definitely something I’m comfortable on. I’ve already been there twice.
In his last two starts on the paperclip, despite running strong, he finished 21st both times due to being caught up in wrecks. However, so far this weekend things look good as he was 15th in final practice and tested well.
“We tested extremely well so I think going into the race this weekend, I think we have one of the best trucks ever,” he says. “So looking forward to it.”
Hoping the rest of the season goes well, Fitzpatrick is hoping to finish in the top 10 in points.
He got started in racing at the age of six running a Jr. Late Model at Sauble Beach. Then he was 13 years old, he moved to Delaware Speedway and got a late model.
Fitzpatrick then moved up to the CASCAR Super Series, where he finished second in the Rookie of the Year standings in 2004 at the age of 16. At the age of 17, he scored his first win and got three top-fives and five top-10 finishes.
[media-credit name=”TurnOne Racing” align=”alignright” width=”301″][/media-credit]Then in 2006, he became the youngest Canadian National Series Champion winning the CASCAR Championship with a win, five podium finishes and two pole awards at the age of 18.
Between 2006 and 2007, NASCAR took over the series, renaming it the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series. Since then, Fitzpatrick has scored six wins, 22 top fives and 36 top 10s in 54 starts while finishing as high as second in 2010.
Heading into this year, he is hoping to win the championship.
“I haven’t been able to piece that together,” he says. “Last couple of years, I’ve been second, third in points, due to mechanical failure. I think now with the new stuff that we’ve got, I don’t think that’s going to be a problem anymore.”
The first race on the schedule is Canadian Tire Motorsports Park (Mosport), which is set to happen on May 20th.
“We’re going for the win,” he says. “I think there’s only two of us that are two time winners at that place and we’re both going to be at that race so it’s going to be exciting. That’s one of my favourite tracks and to be one of the guys everybody watches every week when we go there, it’s kind of a cool feeling. Having new road course equipment, it makes that program better. So I think we’re going to be a threat to win one.”
When he is not racing at the NASCAR ranks, you can still find Fitzpatrick racing somewhere as he often goes go-karting.
“It’s a lot of fun,” he says. “When I’m not working on a car or doing anything of that nature, I go out with a bunch of people and go-kart whenever I can. The place I normally go to, I know inside and out, so it’s a lot of fun.”
Looking forward 10 years down the road, he says he can’t plan that far ahead, but still wants to be racing.