Andrew Ranger took one bump that nearly cost him the win and gave it right back to grab the checkered flag in the NAPA AUTOPRO 100 Sunday.
After losing the lead briefly to Jason Bowles on the white-flag lap, Ranger muscled past on the final turn to claim the victory in a NASCAR Canadian Tire Series presented by Mobil 1 race that he had dominated until the final circuit around the 2.709-mile Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.
“(Bowles) got into the back of me in the hairpin and when we got to the last chicane I moved him a little bit,” said Ranger. “I don’t know what happened after that, but I was able to get the win.”
It is Ranger's second win in three years at Montreal's 2.709-mile course; he was second in last year's event.
“I’m really happy to get the win in front of my (home) crowd and for the Dodge Dealers of Quebec, who supported me this year.”
It's the third win of the season -- all on road-courses -- for the Roxton Pond, Quebec, driver who is running a partial schedule in the series along with his NASCAR K&N Pro Series obligations. The two-time NASCAR Canadian Tire Series champion has 12 career wins in the series with nine coming on road courses.
The restarts seemed to cause trouble for Ranger, who started from the pole position for the fourth time this season, but his car seemed to settle in on the longer green-flag runs.
“My car was all over the place on restarts,” he said. “But it got better the more laps we were able to run I was happy with the car all weekend.”
Bowles and Ranger ran 1-2, respectively, in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West race at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif., earlier this year before Bowles ran out of gas 100 yards from the finish line and handed that win to Ranger. Sunday in Montreal, Bowles had several restarts to challenge Ranger including one on Lap 6 where they made contact in Turn 1 that briefly put Bowles into the lead. However, Ranger quickly regained the top spot.
Bowles took advantage of a green-white-checkered finish to make a move for the lead on Ranger in the hairpin Turn 10. Ranger wobbled from the contact and slipped back into second. As the leaders went through the final chicane, Ranger returned the favor. Bowles spun into the retaining wall while Ranger kept the momentum and took the lead.
After the contact between Ranger and Bowles, Don Thomson Jr. took the opportunity to finish second for his best series-career finish on a road-course. The veteran driver out of Hamilton, Ont., logged his fourth top-five finish in his last five starts including his first win of the season in his last outing on Aug. 21 at Mosport Speedway in Bowmanville, Ont.
“It was a pretty uneventful race for me,” said Thomson. “I was trying to save my car as best I could and these races almost always come down to a green-white-checkered finish and the Home Hardware Chevy was best there at the end.”
Robin Buck, of Campbellville, Ont., finished in third. It was his best finish since placing third in the 2007 Montreal event. He is a frequent competitor in series road-course races, but has been plagued by mechanical problems in recent starts. This time, however, he was able to drive his Durabody Ford to a solid finish.
“It was a busy race,” said Buck. “We started 13th and I thought a top-five finish would be good, so to get third is a bonus.
“We tried a new setup for qualifying and it obviously didn’t work, so we went back to what we know works and the car performed well.”
Scott Steckly and Jason Hathaway crossed the line in the fourth and fifth-place positions, respectively.
Kerry Micks Trevor Seibert, J.F. Dumoulin, Ron Beauchamp Jr. and John Farano rounded out the top 10.
Bowles, the 2009 NASCAR K&N Pro Series West champion, limped his car across the line in 20th with major hood damage.
The race was slowed due to caution four times for a total of nine laps and Ranger led a race-high 21 laps.
Points leader JR Fitzpatrick and his closest challenger DJ Kennington both suffered mechanical issues early. Fitzpatrick, who started on the front row alongside Ranger, picked up enough spots through attrition to finish 18th. Kennington completed just 14 laps of 24 laps and finished 28th. Fitzpatrick, who carried a 16-point lead into the race, extended his lead to 51 points with just three races left on the schedule.
Both Steckly and Micks capitalized on the opportunity and moved into striking distance of the two leaders should either or both encounter further misfortune. Micks now trails Fitzpatrick by 92 points and Steckly is 101 points off the pace.
Steckly rebounded from a disappointing finish on Aug. 21 at Mosport Speedway in Bowmanville, Ont., and earned the Autolite Spark Plugs Time To Change Your Position award while Michel Pilon collected the Coca-Cola Move of the Race award. He started from the 34th and final position and maneuvered his way to a 16th-place finish.
Race winner Ranger picked up the Mobil 1 Command Performance Driver of the Race award and the Mahle-Clevite Engine Builder of the Race award. He also notched the top position in the Dodge-Mopar Fast Five competition as the top-finishing Dodge in the event.
Jarrad Whissell earned the V-tech Free Pass bonus. He posted a 13th-place finish on the lead lap after being a lap down earlier in the race.
The next NASCAR Canadian Tire Series race will be the Wild Wing 300 presented by DriveWise at Barrie (Ont.) Speedway.