AYR, ON – With career Sunset Speedway starts behind the wheel of a Ltd. Late Model, Super Stock and Super Late Model to his credit, this Saturday’s opening round of the APC United Late Model Series will mark JR Fitzpatrick’s first ever appearance behind the wheel of a Pro Late Model at the Innisfil, ON oval.
“We wouldn’t even bother loading this car in the box if we didn’t think we had a chance to win,” says the second-generation racer with a laugh when asked of his chances entering the 100-lap contest.
“[Car Owner] Marvin [Freiburger] and his guys have an amazing piece here and I hope I can give them a run to be proud of. This is a fantastic team to race for”
With a bevy of elite-level contenders expect to converge on Sunset this Saturday, the 2016 OSCAAR Super Late Model champion wastes little time praising the cast of characters he’s prepared to compete against.
“If you unload at a place like Sunset against roster like the APC Series without respecting the guys you’re racing against – you’re a fool,” insists the fan favourite.
“There are so many guys on this roster that are dangerous. I can rattle off a dozen guys that could win this race without anyone even batting an eye. It’s the deepest roster in Ontario racing right now”
And while Fitzpatrick has little track time in a Pro Late Model at Sunset, he has seen more than his fair share of events at the speedway. With that being said, the former CASCAR standout remains uncertain as to what style of race awaits him this weekend.
“I’ve seen a few Pro Late [Model] races at Sunset and they’ve all been a little different so I don’t really know what to expect,” admits the Cambridge, ON native. “We could fall into a long green flag run from the start to the end or it could be a two-hour grinder. It could go either way”
“We just have to be prepared as a team to make adjustments as we go and be ready for anything. That’s the difference between winning and losing in these cars”
And despite all the hours of preparation and laps of practice, Fitzpatrick knows there are certain intangibles that remain crucial entering Saturday’s APC Series opener.
“Some of the biggest things that can impact your day are the ones you can control,” opines Fitzpatrick. “The guys you’re racing around could give you a great battle or they could drive in over their heads and kill your day”
“It’s up to me to try my best to recognize a bad situation before it happens,” adds the veteran. “Patience is important at Sunset no matter what you’re racing – but it’s especially huge in a Pro Late [Model].”