Cambridge truck racer looks for 'a great run'

Fitzpatrick, 20, is guaranteed a ride for the first five races of the Camping World season with the front-running TRG Motorsports of Mooreseville, N.C

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While Colin Braun of Ovalo, Tex., won the pole for tonight’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Daytona International Speedway, the big news for Canadian racing fans is that young J.R. Fitzpatrick of Cambridge will start 14th and stands a chance to record a good finish.

Fitzpatrick, 20, is guaranteed a ride for the first five races of the Camping World season with the front-running TRG Motorsports of Mooreseville, N.C., and his qualifying run last night impressed veteran observers.

Running under the lights, Fitzpatrick used just one of his two laps to post a time of 51.568 and a speed of 175 m.p.h. in his No. 7 Chevrolet Silverado – just 0.847 seconds behind Braun’s pole-winning time of 50.721 seconds (177.441 m.p.h.).

Kevin Buckler, TRG team owner, likes what he’s seeing of Fitzpatrick so far.

“J.R. has grown up over the off season,” Buckler said in a release. “I see more maturity in him behind the wheel and out of the truck as well. We have a really good truck under him and we are looking to have a great run.”

The race tonight can be seen live on the Speed Channel, starting at 8 p.m.

Kennington ‘ready to go’

D.J. Kennington, of St. Thomas, Ont., will try for a good qualifying position today in preparation for tomorrow’s Camping World 300 Nationwide Series race (TSN, 1:15 p.m.).

“We’re ready to go,” Kennington said in a release from his sponsor, Alberta’s Northern Provincial Pipelines Ltd.

“The team is ready. I’m ready. Let’s get the season rolling.”

There is a little less pressure on Kennington, who’ll be kicking off his second consecutive season in the Nationwide series. After a 24th place finish in the 2008 standings, he’s locked into the starting grid for the first five races of 2009.

Daytona 500

Meantime, don’t forget that the 51st running of the “Great American Race,” the Daytona 500, will go to air on Sunday at 2 p.m. on TSN.

Martin Truex Jr. will start from the pole with Mark Martin beside him on the front row. Jeff Gordon and Kyle Busch, who each won one of the qualifying races yesterday, will be in Row 2 with the usual suspects – Jimmy Johnson, Tony Stewart, Kurt Busch, Juan Pablo Montoya, Dale Earnhardt Jr., et al – filling out the 43-car field.

Jeremy Mayfield, who has been missing from the Sprint Cup circuit for several years, raced his way back in as a car owner in one of the qualifying races yesterday and will start 18th. Scott Riggs, driving for the former Bill Davis Racing team now owned by Tommy Baldwin, also raced his way in as did ex-open wheel star A.J. Allmendinger.

Veteran Joe Nemechek missed the cut as did Boris Said and former Daytona 500 winners Derrike Cope and Geoff Bodine.

TSN’s coverage of the Daytona 500 will actually start at 1:30 Sunday, with a NASCAR Sprint Cup Season Preview scheduled.

And remember: although the “race” will come on at 2 p.m., it likely won’t get the green flag until 3:30 or 4 as NASCAR no longer believes that the race itself is enough and has scheduled concerts and all sorts of other pre-race activities.

For those of you who don’t have access to a television, or subscribe to pay radio because you don’t like to sit around and watch TV all the time, Sirius Satellite Radio Canada has announced that it will provide comprehensive coverage of the 500.

Sirius NASCAR Radio, available on channel 128, will broadcast live from Daytona and offer race coverage as well as expert analysis, reports from pit road and the garages, driver introductions and interviews with the race winner and other competitors.

Delaware Speedway back with NASCAR

Delaware Speedway near London, Ont., the first Canadian weekly track to become NASCAR-sanctioned in 2004, is returning to the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series this year.

Recent ownership and management consolidation at the speedway has allowed track operator Arlen Scherba to again run the paved, half-mile oval under a NASCAR sanction.

Delaware Speedway operates on Friday nights, creating a two-track weekly NASCAR circuit with Barrie Speedway. By competing at both tracks, the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Ontario champion could win $4,000.

Strange but true: A NASCAR spokesperson told the Star that it’s unlikely that a round of the 2009 NASCAR Canadian Tire Series will be held at Delaware.

NOTES: Antoine L’Estage, the defending North American champion, won the first round of the Canadian Rally Championship, the Rallye Perce-Neige, at Maniwaki, Que., last weekend. L’Estage and co-driver Nathalie Richard were in a Mitsubishi Evolution RS … Taylor Hacquard, a 19-year-old speedster from British Columbia, will drive in the Star Mazda Championship series this year for Team 3G Kester Racing of College Station, Tex. … Drivers of alternate fuelled vehicles, hybrids and fuel-efficient, gasoline-powered cars will have two opportunities to test their vehicles at the fifth annual Green Grand Prix in Watkins Glen, N.Y., on May 2. This year, organizers are offering the event’s signature road rally through the region, as well as a new fuel economy competition. The participatory events are part of a daylong celebration of sustainable transportation. The Green Grand Prix is based at the International Motor Racing Research Center ( in the Glen … Volkswagen of America has announced the names of the 30 drivers – including five Canadians – who will compete in its 2009 Jetta TDI Cup series. The Volkswagen-operated spec series, which is entering its second season, will be part of the American LeMans Series weekend at Mosport in August. Canadians are Chris Holman of Burlington, Andrew Cordeiro of Woodbridge, Adam Kretschmer of Brampton, David Richert of Winnipeg and Jack Thompson of Vancouver.

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