PETERBOROUGH -- The race to be Canada's top stock car driver was over almost before it began yesterday at Kawartha Speedway.
All Andrew Ranger had to do to win his second NASCAR Canadian Tire series crown in three seasons was start the rain-delayed Z-Line Designs 250 in the Dave Jacombs Racing No. 27 WalMart/Tide Ford Fusion.
The 22-year-old Ranger, by virtue of six wins in the 13-race series, went into the race at Kawartha's banked oval needing just a single point to clinch the title over Windsor's Ron Beauchamp Jr. and the No. 60 Mopar Dodge Charger team.
And the former Champ Car driver did that as soon as the green flag dropped to start the season finale for the NCTS that had been postponed from Saturday due to rain.
Starting second, Ranger already had an 189-point cushion over Beauchamp who would need all of the 190 points available to the race winner -- plus have the native of Roxton Pond, Que., somehow fail to start. But that possibility was squashed on the first lap, even with Beauchamp starting on the pole.
Ranger eventually finished the race ninth with D.J. Kennington in the No. 17 Castrol Dodge Charger taking the checkered flag.
Kerry Micks finished second in the No. 02 Digital Imaging Ford Fusion with five-time champion Don Thomson Jr. finishing third in the No. 4 Home Hardware Chevrolet Impala SS.
In 2007, Ranger won his first championship by winning on the road courses at Mosport, Trois Rivieres and Edmonton, while fighting to earn top 10s at the ovals. This season, however, it was like a light went off inside his racing helmet.
In July at Vernon, B.C.'s Sun Valley Speedway Ranger simply ran rough shod over the grid. By the time he took the checkered flag for his first oval race win he had lapped every single car on the track but one.
"When we started this season, Dave brought a brand new car to the track and I knew right away the way the (team) was reacting that this was going to be a great season," Ranger said yesterday.
Great may be an understatement. According to NASCAR, no one driver has so dominated the series the way Ranger has this season.
"In 12 races so far this season, he has yet to finish outside the top 10," a release from NASCAR said. "His average finishing position is 3.6 with the low-water mark of the campaign being a ninth-place effort two weeks ago at Barrie Speedway."
Ranger scoffed at a reporter's suggestion that winning the stock car championship in Canada wasn't as prestigious as winning an open wheel championship.
"Some people thought I made a mistake coming to NASCAR from open wheel," he said. "But I'll tell you, I would do it again."
As for the future, Ranger is on track to move up to one or both of NASCAR's second tier touring series -- Camping World and Nationwide series -- next season.
"We have been working very hard to find a good team," he said.