Brandon Watson Returns to OSCAAR Victory Lane; J.R. Fitzpatrick Crowned Champion

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After spending a couple years away from the series, Brandon Watson made his return to OSCAAR competition at the Autumn Colours Classic, scoring the victory in the 50-lap feature on Sunday night. Meanwhile, J.R. Fitzpatrick beat Glenn Watson and Gary Passer to be crowned the 2016 OSCAAR Super Late Model Champion.

Kelly Balson won the first heat ahead of Brandon Watson, J.R. Fitzpatrick, John Cadman, Charlie Gallant, Roy Passer, Gord Shepherd and Tyler Hawn.

Gary Passer won the second heat ahead of Glenn Watson, Derrick Tiemersma, Dustin Jackson, Rob Clarke, Dwayne Baker and Robert Bickle.

Rob Clarke won the third heat ahead of Tiemersma, Roy Passer, Brandon Watson, Gallant, Balson and Jackson.

Tyler Hawn won the fourth heat ahead of Baker, Shepherd, Fitzpatrick, Cadman, Glenn Watson, Gary Passer and Bickle.

Come feature time, it’d be Dwayne Baker starting on pole ahead of Derrick Tiemersma, Rob Clarke, J.R. Fitzpatrick, Gary Passer, Glenn Watson, Brandon Watson, Kelly Balson, Tyler Hawn, John Cadman, Roy Passer, Charlie Gallant, Gord Shepherd, Dustin Jackson and Robert Bickle. Balson unfortunately did not get a chance to start the feature as a result of a electrical issue.

Off the drop of the green flag, Derrick Tiemersma put the No. 7 Wayfreight, Speedy Auto Machine, Castro and Spira Fire Protection Super Late out front ahead of Fitzpatrick and Baker. The first caution quickly flew, though, coming out on Lap 2 due to Glenn Watson spinning Clarke.

The restart saw a battle for the lead between Tiemersma and Fitzpatrick, with Tiemersma holding serve. Baker continued to run third, till Brandon Watson got alongside him on Lap 6. Watson took the spot a lap later ahead of Baker, as Gary Passer rounded out the top-five ahead of Cadman, Roy Passer, Jackson, Hawn and Glenn Watson. Gallant ran 11th ahead of Clarke, Shepherd and Bickle. The second caution then flew on Lap 15 as a result of Shepherd hitting Clarke, with Gallant spinning behind them.

The first attempt at a restart resulted in the third caution as Baker spun off of turn two, getting into the backstretch wall. The second attempt went cleanly with Tiemerma continuing to lead as Brandon Watson got by Fitzpatrick to take over the runner-up spot. Cadman continued to run fourth ahead of Roy Passer, Glenn Watson, Shepherd, Jackson, Clarke, Gary Passer, Gallant, Hawn and Bickle.

Going into turn three on Lap 3, Tiemersma got sideways – possibly due to contact from Brandon Watson, allowing Watson to put the No. 9 SHEAR METAL PRODUCTS, KNIGHTWORKS DESIGNS SLM out front ahead of Fitzpatrick with Tiemersma now third.

Tiemersma continued to fall back, eventually getting run into from behind by Cadman and spinning on Lap 22 to bring out the fourth caution. Under caution, both Jackson and Hawn used the opportunity to come down pit road for adjustments. With 28 laps to go, Brandon Watson led Fitzpatrick, Cadman, Roy Passer, Glenn Watson, Shepherd, Gary Passer, Clarke, Gallant, Bickle and Jackson.

Brandon Watson got a good restart to hold the lead ahead of Fitzpatrick and Cadman, as Glenn Watson got alongside Roy Passer for third. Glenn took the spot on Lap 25 ahead of Roy, with Gary Passer rounding out the top-five. Rob Clarke ran sixth ahead of Shepherd and Gallant as Bickle and Jackson ran side-by-side for ninth. Glenn Watson then got alongside Cadman for third, completing the pass on Lap 30. The fifth caution then flew a lap alter as a result of Bickle and Jackson spinning off of turn two.

Brandon Watson got a good restart to keep the lead ahead of Fitzpatrick, Glenn Watson, Cadman and Roy Passer. Clarke continued to run sixth ahead of Shepherd, Gallant, Bickle, Hawn, Jackson and Gary Passer. Gary then passed Jackson on Lap 39 to move up into the 11th.

With a long green flag run, the leaders caught the tail of the field and began to put cars a lap down. Fitzpatrick looked set to clear Gary Passer after he was lapped by Brandon Watson, but contact was made resulting in Passer going for the spin on Lap 44 and the sixth caution.

The first attempt at a restart resulted in another caution for an incident on the frontstretch involving Clarke, Gallant and Bickle. The second attempt at a restart produced the eighth caution as Roy Passer spun Glenn Watson, collecting Shepherd. The third attempt at a restart produced another caution as Gary Passer and Gallant went around, while Glenn Watson climbed the backstretch wall.

The restart saw Brandon Watson cruise away from the field, scoring the victory ahead of John Cadman.

Meanwhile, it looked as though Glenn Watson was going to finish third to clinch the championship. However, with five laps to go, Fitzpatrick tagged Watson, getting him loose and causing him to slide up the track. Fitzpatrick then made his way by, remaining third the rest of the race to clinch his first career OSCAAR Championship.

“We were good all year,” Fitzpatrick said. “This Chase format definitely brought stress to us and it’s exciting, and sometimes you have to do what you have to do to win it.”

Following the last final laps of the event, it was clear some people were left unhappy with what happened. However, Fitzpatrick stated post-race he did what he had to do.

“I only drive one car, the 84 car. Everything else that happened – it is what it is,” he said. “I moved Glenn with three to go, but I would expect him to do the same to me. That’s just good hard racing. You do whatever you can to win the championship. This Chase format is pretty much a ‘boys, have at it’ attitude and I came into this weekend knowing I was going to put in my all to win this race. We didn’t have the best car – we were tight, but we made it happen.”

The 2016 season saw Fitzpatrick and the No. 84 Auto Parts Centres, Meineke Car Care, Transaxle Heavy Truck & Trailer Parts, Cambridge Rigging, Equipment Express, Jenco Equipment, McColl Racing Enterprises, Creative Edge Signs, Wix Filters, Permatex, Driven Steering Wheels, Spray Nine, Deon Racecars, APX Racewear, Clayton Johns Media and ImageFactor.ca Motorsport Designs SLM team put together a solid season. The year included two victories, eight podiums and no finishes outside of the top-five all season long.

“Winning those races was obviously good, but we tried a lot of stuff with the car and experimented a lot,” he said. “It definitely wasn’t the same as last year, but we had good cars and picked up a lot of podiums. That’s pretty cool in itself.

“Obviously, a lot of people are pissed at us and say we don’t deserve the championship, but like I said – I only drive one car. Whatever happens out there, it happens. I drive one car and I did my part; that’s all that matters.”

Gord Shepherd finished the Autumn Colours Classic in fourth, followed by Charlie Gallant, Glenn Watson, Rob Clarke, Roy Passer, Gary Passer, Robert Bickle and Tyler Hawn.

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