Canadian investor Steeve Meehan made a huge purchase this week as he purchased all but the name of the Baker Curb Racing Nationwide Series team that has fell into financial hard times.
With the equipment, he plans to take 2010 NASCAR Canadian Tire Series Runner-Up J.R. Fitzpatrick to the Sprint Cup Series full-time by 2013.
“I think it’s fantastic,” Fitzpatrick told the Globe & Mail. “Steve is a really good guy, he’s Canadian and he really wants to see Canadian corporate sponsorship and Canadian drivers, so I mean it’s really cool.
“He really believes in me and that’s what I really like. Given that I do need the experience and the time at the tracks and, even if it can’t be a full year, he is definitely going to push my career along and I am glad to be a part of it.”
Fitzpatrick ran the Daytona and Fontana Nationwide races for Baker Curb Racing, finishing 42nd and 20th respectively. Fitzpatrick ran three Nationwide races for JR Motorsports last year, finishing in the top 10 twice. Making the jump from the Canadian Tire Series to the Nationwide Series hasn’t been easy due to the weight difference, however it has been fun.
“The Mustangs and the [Dodge] Challengers look awesome,” he said. “The Chevy looks good too. I really like the fact that NASCAR brought these cars in because I can actually sit in them – I’m six-four, so it’s really hard for me to get in the old-style car – and they just look wicked, a lot of people like them and I just love them.”
With more starts on his belt, Fitzpatrick has been getting better at driving them, including finishing 20th at Fontana after starting 25th.
“We went there with a set-up that really didn’t suit my style and I was happy to come out of there with a top-20 with the way the car was handling,” he said. “I’m a very competitive person, Steve is too and so is the whole team, so we were happy but we’re not happy if you know what I mean.
“I wanted a top-15 finish and that would have been like a win to me but I didn’t quite get my goal.”
Fitzpatrick plans to run a dozen Nationwide Series races with one or two Sprint Cup races with Meehan’s new team, along with some Canadian Tire Series races for his own team.
“We will run primarily in Nationwide and likely a few Cup races in 2011 — I think J.R. is comfortable running the road courses in Cup and with a little bit more experience and practice I think he could run an oval or two in Cup,” Meehan told the Globe & Mail. “Our focus is to quickly evolve to a full-time Cup team and I think J.R. is sufficiently talented to get there with the right people behind him.”
The 46-year-old investor is the original founder of the Investment Planning Counsel, which was sold to IBM Financial in 2004 for $95 million on a cash and stock deal.
“We have an opportunity to represent a country as opposed to just being a team and I’m excited by the prospect of doing that,” Meehan said. “It’s a feel good story and it’s my job to capture it and sell it to corporate Canada.”
A press conference is expected in the future to put all the final details together, but the new team is set to debut at the Nashville Nationwide race on April 23rd.