After scoring the OSCAAR Super Late Model Championship this past season, J.R. Fitzpatrick is set to chase after a different prestigious Ontario championship in 2017.
The Cambridge, Ontario native announced at the beginning of the month he had partnered with Marvin Freiburger Racing to drive the No. 37 for the full APC Auto Parts United Late Models of Ontario Tour presented by Grisdales schedule.
“I am ready for my next challenge,” Fitzpatrick told Short Track Musings. “The APC tour has a lot of competitive guys that always work on getting more speed and It reminds me a lot of the old CASCAR days, so I’m thankful to Marvin and his wife Angela for the chance to race for them and raise money for Easter Seals.”
Fitzpatrick and Freiburger first teamed up together for Grisdale Triple Crown at Flamboro Speedway last month, scoring a runner-up in each of the three features.
“At Flamboro, we had a great time and we all worked very well with one another,” he said. “Its going to be a really good thing having our teams join forces because we have a lot of experience and we just want to go have some fun and hopefully win some races.”
The addition of Fitzpatrick to the APC tour just makes the traveling series that much more attracting to fans, as he joins a star-studded list of drivers in the series, including Shawn Chenoweth, Andrew Gresel, Mat Box, Jamie Cox and more.
“APC is no doubt the toughest place to race right now,” he said. “There is a lot of heavy hitters that put in a ton of effort and resources., But I also feel that we can bring a package there that can run up front and contend for some wins. Marvin and his team want to provide us with the best equipment and all the resources we need. And my crew chief Deon and I are really communicating well and this is the environment that we will shine because of both our backgrounds.”
It also doesn’t hurt that the long distance races seem to fit better well with Fitzpatrick.
“I like planning my races and taking care of my equipment, and making sure our car is good for the long races is always a key,” he said. “You need to take advantage of having a good team to getting the car good in practice and I am confident in the crew chief and team I have to make it happen.”
As noted, this past season saw Fitzpatrick have lots of success, scoring two victories and eight top-fives this year to take home the OSCAAR Super Late Model Championship.
“This season went well,” he said. “We tried a lot of different things every week. Even if the car was good, we still looked outside of the box to try and find speed – sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t, but overall obviously a successful season.”
While he scored the pair of victories at Flamboro Speedway with the primary No. 84 car, the races in which stand out to Fitzpatrick are the pair he ran the back-up No. 4 car in due to the planning which went into those races.
“We put a lot of hours and effort into this car throughout the winter to make sure if we needed it that it would be up to par with everyone,” he said. “Even though it had a crate engine and I only had a couple races to work with it, we came home with two second place runs, which I am very proud of.”
Outside of running the full APC tour this team, there is a possibility for Fitzpatrick to run a handful of a super late model races, but notes they will be done with the No. 4 car and the crate motor package they have.
“We are working at doing some updates on it to make it better,” he said. “I will also go help my father-in-law Roy Passer during his races that he plans on running.”
There has also been discussions of Fitzpatrick being one of the Canadians to travel down and take part in the short track event announced for 2017 at Bristol Motor Speedway.
“Bristol is a great place,” Fitzpatrick said. “I have had a couple succesufful runs there before in the past. I would like to go but it depends on where we are at with our stuff here. We are building a car for someone and also working on super lates and a pro, so we have a lot on our plate.”