Sunday, August 16, 2009

Andrew Ranger trails the path at Trois Rivieres GP3R 100

Representing 1 of 4 stops for the NASCAR Canadian Tire series 13-race championship contested on road or street circuit, the Grand Prix of Trois-Rivieres (advertised as GP3R) is a historic Quebec street race event known for showcasing the best of Canadian racing talent. A fixture event amongst open wheel ladder series such as the Atlantic and Formula series schedule, the narrow 1.53 mile circuit hosts the star-studded field of Canadian racing stars. Including NASCAR Canadian Tire series regulars Andrew Ranger, 2008 champion Scott Steckly, and 5-time CASCAR champ Don Thomson Jr., the GP3R field added two prominent French-Canadian road ringers. Alex Tagliani would prove strong for the weekend in the #03 Canadian Tire Chevrolet while the second Quebec born race talent would be no other than Jacques Villeneuve. 1995 Indy 500 and former Formula 1 world champion, Villeneuve returns to a circuit which helped allow his as well as his father Giles Villeneuve's race career to florish. During Saturday qualifying, Tagliani took pole over the #17 Dodge of DJ Kennington and the Ford of Andrew Ranger in setting the field for the Sunday afternoon event.

As the green flag dropped on the 100 mile race of the GP3R, a two-car collision occurred immediately between JF Dumoulin and long-time CASCAR competitor and road race profesional Robin Buck drawing the first caution before lap 1. Officials discounted the first start and allowed Alex Tagliani to take the field to green for a second time as race drag-raced DJ Kennington into the tight first turn preserving his lead position. Tagliani would end up leading many of the race's laps. Just a few race positions behind, Jacques Villeneuve held station in fifth place. With a second caution drawn for the halted Scott Steckly Dodge at lap 14, Alex Tagliani, Andrew Ranger, the #95 of Anthony Simone, DJ Kennington and Jacques Villeneuve was the running order when the race resumed at lap 20. Four laps later, the lead would change as the #27 car of Ranger made a brave move on the than dominate Chevrolet of Tagliani. However, this pass for the lead might have been helped by a race-ending engine problem which gripped Alex Tagliani's #03 car on lap 28. As Tagliani's car failure proved to be the most significant move at top of the leaderboard for the GP3R 100, residence deeper in the field were drivers providing near endless entertainment for the Quebec crowd. Mechanical problems also plagued the field as Scott Steckly, Mark Dilley, and Patrice Brisebois would retire in the latter stages of the race. The final caution on lap 39 was brought out following Jason Hathaway's impact on the track.

With a three-lap shutout to settle the winner, series sophomore Anthony Simone applied heavy pressure to the experienced Ranger. Holding off the #95 car, a challenged Andrew Ranger takes green at the GP3R 100 with DJ Kennington 3rd and Jacques Villeneuve coming home 4th.

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