FRASERVILLE, Ont., Canada — By Jason Christley, NASCAR — Matthew Manor/NASCAR photo — JR Fitzpatrick did everything he could. LP Dumoulin did exactly what he needed to.
The result was Dumoulin being crowned the champion of the 2014 NASCAR Canadian Tire Series presented by Mobil 1 Saturday, while Fitzpatrick walked away with the winner’s trophy for the Pinty’s 250 at Kawartha Speedway.
Final championship margin: Three points.
It capped a remarkable career transformation for the 35-year-old Dumoulin, who got his start in open-wheel racing and didn’t make his NASCAR debut until 2009. He ran his first full season in 2012, won his first NASCAR race last year and first NASCAR oval race this season.
And now the Trois-Rivieres, Quebec, native became the first driver besides Andrew Ranger, Scott Steckly and DJ Kennington to take home the coveted national championship for Canadian stock-car racing.
Dumoulin qualified 15th and finished ninth at Kawartha. It was enough for him to edge Fitzpatrick for the title after the latter won the pole award and led the most laps en route to his third victory of the season.
Fitzpatrick led three times for 171 laps, including the final 78. A late caution gave Steckly one more shot with seven to go, but Fitzpatrick pulled away to win by .229 seconds. It was all for naught, though, as a 100-lap green flag run in the middle of the race left just 10 cars on the lead lap and all but ensured Dumoulin the title. He entered the race with a 16-point lead and needed to only finish 11th or better to claim the championship.
Defending race and series champion Steckly finished second at Kawartha, while Jason Hathaway, Mark Dilley and Kennington rounded out the top five.
Jeff Lapcevich was sixth, followed by Steve Mathews, rookie Matthew Scannell, Dumoulin and Jim White.
Kennington finished third in points, 48 back of Fitzpatrick. Steckly edged Hathaway by one point for fourth.
The Pinty’s 250 will air on TSN on Saturday, Oct. 4, at 1:30 p.m. ET, and on RDS2 on Wednesday, Oct. 15 at 9:30 p.m. TSN will also air a 2014 Season In Review on Saturday, Nov. 22 at 1 p.m.
Dumoulin will be honored for his championship season along with NASCAR’s other touring series champions on Saturday, Dec. 12 at the NASCAR Touring Series Awards in the Grand Ballroom of the Charlotte (N.C.) Convention Center at the NASCAR Hall of Fame.