Friday, August 20, 2010

Andrew Ranger Rolls to Win at Trois Rivieres

Photo Credit: Matthew Murnaghan/ NASCAR
Clinching his second NASCAR Canadian Tire Series championship last season, the young Andrew Ranger heard the call of the richer stock car racing scene of the United States. Spliting his time stock car racing between the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series and the NASCAR K&N Racing Series for 2010, Ranger's open wheel road racing background came in extremely handy south of the 49th parallel taking victories at Infineon Raceway and Lime Rock Park. Returning as reigning champion to Canada when running a handful of NASCAR Canadian Tire Series races with a #27 Dodge, the Roxton Pond, Quebec native had already accomplished a flag-to-flag victory on the Honda Indy Weekend race. By doing so, Andrew Ranger completed an unreached feat of becoming the first driver to win in the both the NASCAR K&N East and West series as well as the Canadian Tire Series in a single year.
The 8th race of the 13 date 2010 NASCAR Canadian Tire Series season, Trois Rivieres' GP3R 100 transpires on the oldest running temporary street course race in Canada. With history dating back to 1967, the 1.53 mile track played host to a Canadian whos-who of racing including Gilles Villeneuve, Alex Tagliani and Ron Fellows. Like the Toronto street course, the stock cars would be involved in a practically draining but brief 42-lap event.

Andrew Ranger returns just as the stock car racing tour concluded a two-race Western Canadian oval track stint. Apart from Ranger's appearance, the most concentrated focus has been on the tight 2010 championship fight between DJ Kennington and JR Ftzpatrick. After the Edmonton road race, the #84 Schick Hydro Chevrolet driven by Fitzpatrick held the lead in the points standings but Kennington has since launched himself into the points lead driving the #17 Castrol Edge Dodge. Qualifying 2nd, Fitzpatrick was positioned to make some serious gains on Kennington back on the road courses. In that same qualifying session, Ranger took his 3rd pole piloting the  #27 Jacobs Racing team's limited season.

Well-positioned at the beginning of the GP3R 100 on Circuit de Trois Rivieres, Andrew Ranger's attempt at a second NASCAR Canadian Tire Series victory for 2010 was hindered from the start.  Seeing opportunity immediately on lap 2, JR Fitzpatrick dived on Ranger through turn 6 allowing the #84 Chevy to grab the lead. Caught off-guard by the early race pass, Andrew Ranger slipped into the barrier. While suffering only minor damage along the drive side his #27 Dodge, Ranger lost a multitude of positions. By lap 6, Andrew Ranger was resuming the event in 6th place but was out of touch with the lead pack consisting of Fitzpatrick and the #02 Ford of Kerry Micks. The Ford/Chevrolet battle was fought valiantly at the front with leading 26 laps between the Micks and Fitzpatrick. By lap 13, the Dodge of Andrew Ranger continued his recovery emerging to 4th place chasing down Jason Hathaway seeded in 3rd place.

A caution for the stopped #77 vehicle of Isabelle Temblay allowed the teams to regroup on lap 16. With three yellow flags slowing the GP3R 100, the timing for each stop set up some priceless moments for the NSACAR Canadian Tire Series stars a golden opportunity to improve their position. Once the green flag flew following the first caution, Ranger successfully bypassed Hathaway's #3 Dodge for third.

Winding up at the halfway point, the race course challenged the mechanics of certain stock cars. Former Montreal Canadians hockey player Patrice Brisebois and Antony Simone were early race retirements. Also requiring extended service, the #4 Chevrolet of Don Thomson Jr. fell more than 12 laps off the lead. Thomson Jr. has been weathering an extremely tough 2010 season where the Home Hardware Chevrolet seems plagued with troubles.

JR Fitzpatrick led GP3R 100 event when caution fell for the second time for debris. The lap 28 restart would become the single definingmoment for the Trois Rivieres NASCAR Canadian Tire Series race. Three-wide between Fitzpatrick, Micks and Ranger, the fight prevailed in the favour of Andrew Ranger making a full recovery from his early race misadventure. Ranger's retaking of the lead position survived a the 3rd and final caution. Kerry Micks' Ford took second away from Fiztpatrick's Chevrolet.

Finishing 3rd, JR Fitzpatrick's race did not go the way the 2006 CASCAR Super Series champion would has preferred. Souring the podium effort was the knowledge that 2010 NASCAR Canadian Tire Series title leader DJ Kennington finished one position behind Fitzpatrick's #84 car. However, gaining 15 points on Kennington, Fitzpatrick has closed the gap by a single point.

Finishing 3rd through 10th, Jeff Lapcevich, Scott Steckly, J.F. Dumoulin, Jason Hathaway, Peter Klutt and Mark Dilley crossed the Trois Rivieres finish line.

Next on the schedule for the 2010 NASCAR Canadian Tire Series is the Dickies 200 at the Mosport Speedway oval this saturday.

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