TROIS-RIVIERES, Quebec – Andrew Ranger took advantage of an opportunity and won the GP3R 100 after race leader Scott Steckly and J.R. Fitzpatrick got tangled up in the final lap of the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series race.
The caution flag waved with just over a lap remaining in the Grand Prix de Trois-Rivieres event when Kent Nuhn’s (No. 18 Interstate Batteries/The Fuel Genie Chevrolet) car suffered a flat right, front tire setting up a green-white-checkered finish. Ranger, running in third, slipped through a hole created when Fitzpatrick (No. 84 Fitzpatrick Motorsports Chevrolet) made contact with Steckly (No. 22 Tow Truck in a Box Dodge) in Turn 9 of the 10-turn, 1.53-mile temporary road course.
Fitzpatrick started on the pole and led the first 28 laps before Steckly was able to make a pass in Turn 1 while Fitzpatrick was dealing with lapped traffic. Steckly had moved out to a comfortable lead, but the late caution erased that margin setting up the thrilling finish.
Ranger (No. 27 Wal-Mart/Tide Ford), a Quebec native, sent the very partisan capacity crowd in Trois-Rivieres home happy. Winning was not the only good news for Ranger on Sunday. Earlier in the day, he learned that he will be behind the wheel of a NASCAR Nationwide Series car from the Fitz Motorsports stable for seven races this season after making his debut in the car in Montreal.
“It’s been a great day for me,” said Ranger. “(Fitzpatrick and Steckly) left the door open and I took advantage. After being so close last season, it was great to get a win here in front of these awesome fans.”
A season ago, Kerry Micks (No. 02 Beyond Digital Imaging Ford) beat Ranger to the finish line by just .012 seconds.
Steckly was able to gather up his car in the final turn and finish second, his seventh podium finish in nine events this season.
Jason Hathaway (No. 3 Snap-on Tools/Super 8 Dodge), too, was able to slip past Fitzpatrick to post his first Canadian Tire Series career podium finish.
Arriving in the early morning hours after a 12-hour drive from the NASCAR Nationwide Series event at Michigan International Speedway, D.J. Kennington was forced to the rear of the field due to the driver change. However, he diced through the field to finish fourth.
Fitzpatrick salvaged a fifth-place finish and was followed by Hamilton’s Jim Lapcevich. Jean-Francois Dumoulin, Didier Schraenen, Micks and John Gaunt to rounded out the top 10.
The race was slowed just two times due to caution for a total of five laps. The lead exchanged two times amongst three drivers.
Unofficially, in the championship point standings, Steckly increased his lead to 113 points over Kennington, who moved into second place.
The NASCAR Canadian Tire Series presented by Sirius Satellite Radio is back in action next on Aug. 30 at Cayuga Motor Speedway for the Coke Zero 200.