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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The compact five month journey that was the 2014 NASCAR Canadian Tire Series presented by Mobil 1 season once again produced many memorable moments and performances, none more notable than those of first-time champion L.P. Dumoulin.
Dumoulin became the fourth different driver in series history to capture the title. In just his third full-time season, the former sports car racer capitalized on two personal milestone visits to Victory Lane en route to the crown: a hometown win in the prestigious Grand Prix de Trois-Rivieres, and his first oval track triumph was earned at Saskatoon’s Auto Clearing Motor Speedway.
The Trois-Rivieres, Quebec, native Dumoulin maintained command of the points lead for more than half of the season, but his championship bid was not unchallenged. Behind a career-high three victories, J.R. Fitzpatrick contended until the final laps of the campaign and came up just three tallies shy.
The points race between Dumoulin and Fitzpatrick wasn’t the only story of 2014, however. The 11-race slate produced six different winners – including four different multi-race victors – and six were decided by a margin of victory of less than four-tenths of a second. There were six series race records and eight individual marks were extended or established.
L.P. Dumoulin: The series champion is a natural selection for the season’s top driver. Dumoulin registered those two wins and led the series with nine top fives. A midseason run of five consecutive podiums propelled him into the championship lead, and he maintained sole possession of the top spot through the final seven events of the year. VIDEO: L.P. DUMOULIN'S CHAMPIONSHIP ACCEPTANCE SPEECH
J.R. Fitzpatrick (Honorable Mention): The points runner-up tied Dumoulin for the series lead with 11 top-10 finishes, but bested the champion by a win and two poles. Like Dumoulin the year before, Fitzpatrick swept the two events at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park and added a third victory in the finale. Voted the series’ Most Popular Driver, Fitzpatrick led six races for 377 laps.
Comeback Driver of the Year
Andrew Ranger: After making just three starts in a part-time role in 2013, the two-time titlist stormed back into full-time action this season with a pair of wins and a series-best three poles. Ranger was dominant in victory at Circuit ICAR and returned to the Winner’s Circle five days later in the inaugural Edmonton International Raceway event, which marked his first oval triumph since 2009.
Alex Tagliani (Honorable Mention): Following open wheel fame, Tagliani returned to run a Canadian Tire Series slate for the first time since 2008. He competed in nine of 11 races in 2014 and finished ninth in points with three top 10s. Tagliani earned the pole and led a career-high 268 laps at Edmonton and posted top fives at both ICAR and Saskatoon.
Fitzpatrick Motorsports: Although they didn’t take home the big trophy at the conclusion of the campaign, the No. 84 Equipment Express/Autism Speaks Chevrolet team behind Fitzpatrick put up impressive numbers. Fitzpatrick Motorsports recorded a series-high three wins, tied for the lead in top 10s and laps completed, and ranked second behind only Ranger with two poles.
King Autosport (Honorable Mention): The champions were as consistent as you can get, with top 10s each time out, and only two results outside the top five. Like Fitzpatrick, Dumoulin’s No. 47 WeatherTech Canada/Bellemare Dodge team completed all but one lap the series contested in 2014.
Top Breakthrough Performance
Donald Chisholm: In 15 previous series starts through 2013, the part-time competitor had led a grand total of 20 laps with one podium finish. On Aug. 16 at his home track, Riverside International Speedway, Chisholm had the breakout of all breakouts as he led 103 laps and ran away with a dominant first career victory. Chisholm’s performance was so strong that for an extended period late in the event, he had lapped all but one other competitor in the event.
Marc-Antoine Camirand (Honorable Mention): Following a pair of starts in his 2013 debut season, Camirand competed in five races this year and exhibited plenty of potential. He started on the front row for back-to-back events – including his first career pole in the famed Grand Prix de Trois-Rivieres – and recorded his first career podium finish in the series’ second visit to CTMP.
VIDEO Wahta Springs 300 at Barrie Speedway, Sept. 6: When the leaders are side-by-side entering Turn 4 of the final lap in a short-track event, anything can happen, and that’s the situation Fitzpatrick and Jason Hathaway treated fans to at Barrie. The race featured eight lead changes, and seven were between Fitzpatrick and Hathaway, including two in the last three laps. Coming to the checkered flag, Fitzpatrick had a nose in front entering Turn 3, but Hathaway used his inside position to power off of Turn 4 for the win.
VIDEO Budweiser 300 at Autodrome Chaudiere, June 15 (Honorable Mention): Hathaway had a flare for the dramatic in 2014. In addition to Barrie, his other win was also a barn-burner. In the series’ inaugural event at the northern Quebec quarter-mile, Hathaway and Mark Dilley traded the lead six times, including twice during a green-white-checkered flag finish that saw Hathaway come out on top.
The 2014 Year In Pictures
It was a two-horse race for the title in 2014 between Dumoulin (47) and Fitzpatrick (84). Getty Images for NASCAR