He'd already lost second gear. His tires were fading fast.
And Andrew Ranger also had a black object that was quickly appearing larger and larger in his rear-view mirror.
It was J.R. Fitzpatrick.
Ranger's No. 27 and Fitzpatrick's No. 84 had been staging a classic duel on the last few laps of what the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series' first appearance at what was to be the last Grand Prix in Edmonton.
"It was a very special race," Ranger said yesterday, in town early doing a promtional stop with his Wal-Mart/Tide-sponsored car.
He was still smiling about it, too, as he was after the race last year.
It's not often a driver is happy about being the runnerup after leading most of the race, but the classic chasedown was as thrilling to be part of as it was for the crowd watching.
The two had a similar showdown the race before with the reverse 1-2 result.
"I almost won that race! Finished second on the last lap. I was lucky to finish second, too. Transmission problems. Second gear was broken and the car was sliding everywhere. In the beginning I was very fast and in the end ..."
"It was fun, that's for sure."
Ranger, who raced a ChampCar his first two times in Edmonton, is a veteran at the age of 21. But he and Fitzpatrick - a second-generation stocker - haven't had a similar Young Gun faceoff yet this season.
So, could it happen on Saturday?
"I know he's fast, I know he's a good driver," Ranger answered. "We haven't really raced like that this year. But who knows? It's going to be interesting to see."