French Canadian driver, ANDREW RANGER/No.35 Chevrolet, led twice, for 17 laps and won the NASCAR K & N Series Thunder Valley Casino Resort 200 Race Saturday afternoon at Infineon Raceway. He had such a large margin ahead of PAULIE HARRAKA/No./12 Toyota that he still had a cushion of 6.059 seconds when he coasted to his checkered flag, after running out of fuel in sight of the starter. Ranger turned the second-fastest race lap of 1:19.758, only 0.007 seconds behind pole sitter JASON BOWLES/No.31Chevrolet.They were the only two drivers in the 1:19 range.
Pole sitter and hard-charging Bowles survived a crash which left his car looking like a battered ram and was running less than two seconds behind Ranger when he ran out of fuel coming out of Turn Eleven on the last lap. Despite his weaving to slosh fuel from the tank, he finished twenty-second. Bowles led the first 16 laps and turned the fastest race lap of 1:19.398/90.229 mph
Ironically, it was two-time Infineon winner Bowles that Ranger sought out at the recent K & N race in Mosport to seek advice and mentoring on how to run Infineon: Gear ratios, shifting patterns, etc.
Third through fifth were BRANDON DAVIS/No.10 Chevrolet; new points leader, ERIC HOLMES/No.20 Toyota; and Top Rookie, MICHAEL SELF/No.88 Chevrolet, who gained the most positions after starting twenty-second. He also led a lap.
Road Racer/Sprint Cup racer, BORIS SAID/No.57 Ford, started second and ran up front for many laps, leading laps 17-18. But he was caught out in a multi-car accident (are there any other kind in the aggressive, always-entertaining West Series?) not of his own making. He pitted and charged back up and then had another late race pit stop, which dropped him from third to twenty-third on Lap 58. He charged back up to finish fourteenth on Lap 64.
Road Racer/Sprint Cup debutant, MATTIAS EKSTROM of Sweden, ran his first-ever NASCAR race, but didn’t last long. He started eleventh, but drove his No.84 Toyota off course entering Turn Three on Lap 12 and retired, to finish thirty-sixth in a field of 37.
The race ran 1 hr, 50 mins, 30 secs and will be aired on SPEED TV Thursday June 24 2010 at 3 PM PT/6 PM ET. It was punctuated with six cautions for 14 of the 64 laps.
Ranger, whose command of the English language has significantly improved since his open wheel days in the Atlantic and Champ Car World Series, has switched to NASCAR and isn’t looking back. He doesn’t see returning to open wheel racing, saying he’s having too much fun in stock cars. Besides, he added, “it’s so close to home and all my friends and family.” Ranger’s father ran dirt modified cars for 25-30 years.
This is the fourth year Ranger has run in the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series – the official Canadian version of NASCAR. He won the championship in the inaugural season – 2007. He has also ran five NASCAR Nationwide Series races in 2008. Last year Ranger again ran the full Canadian Tire Series and won the championship. This year the economy has not been helpful, and the team for which Ranger had been racing folded. Ranger ran the Mosport Canadian Tire race, and is finalizing details to run the Montreal NNS race. He ran the Montreal NNS race last year, leading 15-20 laps and finishing third. Canadian reports say Ranger will run a Baker Curb Racing Dodge Charger in Montreal NAPA 200 Nationwide Series Presented by Dodge race. It’s all convoluted. Baker Curb, which has been running Roush/Yates Ford engines, has gone through two Crew Chiefs already, lost its tobacco sponsorship due to new anti-tobacco legislation, and have had GREG BIFFLE running selected races. This weekend Baker Curb ran Aussie OWEN KELLY in his first NNS race – he finished fifth. The #27 car has had several crew chiefs so far this season. The most recent #27 Crew Chief, RICKIE VIERS went to Roush Fenway Racing, and Canadian talk is that Dodge engines have been ordered from ERNIE ELLIOT, brother of BILL ELLIOTT. Stay tuned.
Ranger has run three races this year in the K & N Series, both the East and West categories. The car is owned by BOB TORIERRE and the Team Manager is STEVE HEBERT. It was Hebert who called Ranger to run the American NASCAR races. The race shop is in Vermont, about 40 miles from Ranger’s home town of Roxton Pond, Quebec. The team didn’t have a NNS car, for Ranger to run at this weekend’s inaugural NNS race at Road America, and Ranger doesn’t have any other rides this season…so far.
Ranger ran Iowa, finishing P28 after a flat tire, and fifth at Martinsville two weeks ago. By winning the West Series race Saturday, he earned himself a slot for the post-season Toyota All-Star Showdown at Toyota Speedway at Irwindale. In order to qualify for this race a driver must be a race winner in either of the K & N Series, or win the championship in a NASCAR Touring Series.
Ranger compared the two kinds of NASCAR race cars. The Canadian car has a fiberglass body and is much lighter, has different brakes, different gear ratios, etc. They are not similar. The Canadian Series is quite large and runs on a variety of tracks. Ranger said he’s learned a lot about NASCAR from running the Canadian Tire Series.
Ranger tested at Lime Rock Park and likes that track. He learned a lot, so when he got to Infineon, it only took him 15-20 laps to learn the track.
Ranger’s next K&N East Series races are at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon NH, and then Lime Rock Park in Lakeville CT.