One year ago, Fitzpatrick was in the midst of his most challenging Pro Late
Model campaign to date, mired in on-track altercations and mechanical failures, the Cambridge, ON racer went winless with many fans and fellow competitors wondering if he had lost his penchant for competition.
“I think a lot of people wrote me off last year,” shrugs Fitzpatrick. “This is the ‘what have you done for me lately’ sport – so as soon as you go through a rough patch or a slump it’s pretty easy for guys to forget all about you. It is what it is. We knew that we could come back from it, we just needed to build ourselves back up.”
After spending 2017 racing for Car Owner and lauded ‘nice guy’ Marvin Freiburger, Fitzpatrick reverted back to the role of Owner/Operator for 2018 and hit the ground running with the APC United Late Model Series.
When the dust had settled, Fitzpatrick had tallied 7 top-5 finishes in 9 tour events en route to his first career Pro Late Model championship.
“This was one of those years where we just knew that we weren’t going to take ‘no’ for an answer,” says Fitzpatrick. “We weren’t going to let ourselves off the hook. We weren’t cutting any shop nights short. The plan was to work until the job was done and to make sure that every time we rolled a car out of the trailer it was strong enough to give us a chance to win.”
“Our season played out better than I could ever have even imagined,” continues the fan favourite. “I really believe that 2018 will end up being the benchmark that we hold every other Summer to for a real long time. I felt fortunate every minute of every race because of how good this car was.”
Looking back on his bottom-to-top resurgence, Fitzpatrick hopes to be an inspiration to other racers that find themselves in the midst of a slump – regardless of what division they compete in.
“I can look you dead in the eye and tell you there was nothing out of the ordinary that our team did to turn our luck around,” explains the former CASCAR Super Series champ. “It was all about how badly we wanted it and how hard we were willing to work to get back to a place that we could be proud of.”
“Any other racer can do that – and I hope they look at us like an example,” adds Fitzpatrick. “It doesn’t matter if you run a Mini Stock or a Super Late Model – if you’re ready to put in the time and effort you can change your luck.”