Ranger makes no mistake this year at NASCAR event


MONTREAL – Hamilton and area drivers gave a good showing of themselves at Saturday’s NAPA 100.

Former Hamilton resident Don Thomson, now living in Ayr, Ont., crossed the finish line in fifth place. Thomson, who started from the No. 6 position, was just ahead of Grimsby’s Jim Lapcevich. He came home sixth after working his way from the No. 12 spot. in the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series event at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve .

Brantford’s Doug Brown was 17th (he started in 20th place) and Ancaster’s John Fletcher worked his way from the No. 31 position to cross the finish line 19th while Jim Lapcevich of Hamilton was 26th after starting 18th.

The race was won by Andrew Ranger, who narrowly took it last year. It was his first win of the 2008 season.

Ranger (No. 27 Wal-Mart/Tide Ford) got to Fitzpatrick’s (No. 84 Fitzpatrick Motorsports Chevrolet) rear deck lid going into the Turn 8 and 9 combination when Fitzpatrick left a small opening and Ranger was able to drive his Ford through it.

“He opened the door a little and I was able to stick my nose in there and get past,” said Ranger.

After Ranger completed the pass, Fitzpatrick, in an effort to make up the lost ground, drove deep into the corner and was left spinning out of contention.

“(Fitzpatrick) was really driving hard the whole race,” Ranger said. “His car was really fast and I was pretty fortunate to get around him.”

The grandstands were full and fans cheered wildly as the 21 year-old driver out of nearby Roxton Pond, Quebec assumed the lead and began chanting for the victor as Ranger pulled into victory lane.

“It was really great to win in front of the great race fans here in Quebec. It didn’t work out for us last year, but this time we were able to give them a win,” said Ranger.

It was Ranger’s second career win in the Canadian Tire Series. The defending series champion had not gone to Victory Lane since June 2007, a span of 16 races.

After Fitzpatrick made contact with the wall heading into the Turn 10 hairpin, current points leader Scott Steckly (No. 22 Tow Truck in a Box/Schick Dodge) moved into to second place, but was not in position to apply any pressure on the victor.

“I would have liked to have been able to get to (Ranger) and challenge for the win, but he wanted it really bad and was pretty smooth all day. It turned out to be a good points day and we’ll keep going from here,” Steckly said.

Last year’s winner Kerry Micks (No. 02 Beyond Digital Imaging Ford) finished third after starting the race on the pole, but was happy with the performance.

“We came here with the goal of finishing on the podium and we were able to do that,” Micks said. “Those guys up front were really going at it. I was hoping to possibly sneak in there if they got over aggressive, but we just never got the opportunity. We’re happy with the finish, though. This is such a great track to race and the all the fans make it fun.”

The race was slowed by caution just two times for a total of three laps and had three lead changes between two drivers.

Unofficially, in the championship point standings, Steckly, with his seventh consecutive top-five finish, stretched his lead over Thomson to 146 points. D.J. Kennington and Ranger rank third and fourth and are both within 24 points of Steckly.

The NASCAR Canadian Tire Series is in back on an oval track next week at Mosport Speedway in Bowmanville (near Toronto) for the Full Throttle Energy Drink 200.

Results

Lap length: 2.71 miles

(Start position in parentheses)

1. (3) Andrew Ranger, Roxton Pond, Que., Ford, 23 laps, 68.058 mph, $4,750.
2. (4) Scott Steckly, Milverton, Ont., Dodge, 23, $4,780.
3. (1) Kerry Micks, Mt. Albert, Ont., Ford, 23, $2,400.
4. (8) D.J. Kennington, St. Thomas, Ont., Dodge, 23, $2,900.
5. (6) Don Thomson, Jr., Chevrolet, 23, $1,500.
6. (12) Jeff Lapcevich, Chevrolet, 23, $1,410.
7. (10) Mark Dilley, Barrie, Ont., Dodge, 23, $2,380.
8. (9) Robin Buck, Campbellville, Ont., Ford, 23, $1,340.
9. (14) Dave Whitlock, Petrolia, Ont., Dodge, 23, $1,800.
10. (15) Brad Graham, Glencoe, Ont., Dodge, 23, $1,545.
11. (17) Pierre Bourque, Ottawa, Ont., Dodge, 23, $905.
12. (7) Peter Gibbons, Stouffville, Ont., Ford, 23, $880.
13. (24) Derek Lynch, Warkworth, Ont., Dodge, 23, $860.
14. (25) Dave Connelly, Arnprior, Ont., Chevrolet, 23, $850.
15. (29) Kent Nuhn, Williamsford, Ont., Chevrolet, 23, $1,830.
16. (26) John Gaunt, Barrie, Ont., Dodge, 23, $810.
17. (20) Doug Brown, Dodge, 23, $795.
18. (21) Joey McColm, Ajax, Ont., Dodge, 23, $780.
19. (31) John Fletcher, Dodge, 23, $770.
20. (30) Jarrad Whissell, Calgary, Alb., Ford, 23, $750.
21. (19) Ron Beauchamp, Jr., Windsor, Ont., Dodge, 23, $745.
22. (2) J.R. Fitzpatrick, Cambridge, Ont., Chevrolet, 23, $740.
23. (33) David Thorndyke, Oshawa, Ont., Chevrolet, 22, $2,735.
24. (23) Trevor Seibert, Williams Lake, B.C., Ford, 21, $730.
25. (13) Peter Klutt, Halton Hills, Ont., Pontiac, 21, $725.
26. (18) Jim Lapcevich, Chevrolet, 20, engine, $720.
27. (22) Didier Schraenen, St. Hilaire, Que., Chevrolet, 16, oil leak, $715.
28. (11) Jason Hathaway, Appin, Ont., Dodge, 12, fuel pump, $710.
29. (5) Alex Tagliani, Lachenaie, Que., Ford, 7, drive shaft, $705.
30. (28) Bryan Cathcart, Peterborough, Ont., Dodge, 7, rear end, $700.
31. (27) Jason White, Sun Peaks, B.C., Chevrolet, 5, transmission, $695.
32. (32) Ashley Taws, Newmarket, Ont., Chevrolet, 1, engine, $690.
33. (16) Anthony Simone, Holland Landing, Ont., Chevrolet, 0, dns, $685.

Race stats

Time of race: 0 hours 54 minutes 57 seconds
Margin of victory: 2.846 seconds
Fastest qualifier: .Micks (91.465 mph, 106.664 seconds)
Caution flags: 2 for 3 laps.
Lead changes: 3 among 2 drivers.
Lap leaders: J.Fitzpatrick 1-18; A.Ranger 19; J.Fitzpatrick 20-22; A.Ranger 23.
Standings: 1. S.Steckly, 1240; 2. D.Thomson,Jr., 1094; 3. D.Kennington, 1087; 4. A.Ranger, 1070; 5. K.Micks, 1007; 6. J.Fitzpatrick, 961; 7. P.Gibbons, 959; 8. M.Dilley, 937; 9. D.Lynch, 925; 10. B.Graham, 914.