CAMBRIDGE, ON – With close to 70 race teams preparing to descend on Jukasa Motor Speedway this weekend in search of a landmark $75,000 payday, there’s no question that it will take a significant amount of dedication and commitment to prepare the car that will outrun the top Pro Late Model teams in North America.
And, with only days remaining until Jukasa plays host to the second installment of the Canadian Short Track Nationals, 2018 APC United Late Model Series champion JR Fitzpatrick is leaving nothing to chance as he readies his team for their biggest race of the season.
“Races are won in the shop – if you don’t know that then you probably shouldn’t be racing,” says the second-generation competitor from his Cambridge, ON base. “We’re working and preparing for this race like it’s the last one we’re ever going to start. That’s how much it means.”
“We have a great car and a great team but we know that’s not enough to win a race like this one. You have to put in the effort before you ever get to the speedway if you want to outrun the caliber of competition we’re going up against at Jukasa. Because – this sport doesn’t owe you anything – no matter who you are or what you’ve won in the past.”
With an entry list spanning coast to coast and including 6 Provinces and a dozen States, the 250-lap race will undoubtedly feature a ‘who’s who’ of top Pro Late Model talent, after a qualifying process that includes both time trials and heat races to narrow the field.
Fortunately, for Fitzpatrick, by virtue of winning a ‘Nationals’ qualifier at Flamboro Speedway on August 24th, he will unload at Jukasa on Friday afternoon with a guaranteed provisional starting spot for the main event on Saturday night.
“The provisional (starting spot) is just our way of packing a parachute,” explains Fitzpatrick. “That’s our ‘just in case’. We’re still going to try like hell to get this car on the pole after time trials. Because, in a field as stout as this one is going to be, the last thing you want to be tasked with doing is coming from the back.”
Fitzpatrick’s most recent Jukasa appearance was with the aforementioned APC United Late Model Series on July 25th and resulted in a 5th-place finish for the fan favourite.
Now, after poring over possible setup combinations for the better part of a month, Fitzpatrick is ready to make every attempt possible to improve upon that finish.
“We’ve put something together for this weekend that I know can contend,” insists the multi-time Pro Late Model winner. “It’s going to come down to making the right decisions when the laps start to matter most. If we can do that, we’ll be in a very comfortable position to contend for this win.”