Sky's the limit for Ranger

DEAN McNULTY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:10 PM ET

Andrew Ranger couldn’t wait to get back on to the Exhibition Place temporary street course that serves as the track for the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series Jumpstart 100.

Ranger drove his No. 27 Dave Jacombs Racing Dodge to the pole for Saturday’s race with a lap of one minute, 16.659 seconds.

It was like visiting an old friend, the 22-year-old native of Roxton Pond, Que., said.

Only on Friday that visit was in a 3,000-pound stock car. In Ranger’s four other tours of duty at the Honda Indy Toronto he raced in first, the Renault series, then in the Atlantic Series and finally twice in the old Champ Car World Series.

All of those were nimble single seaters with enough down force to keep them glued to the 2.88 km course along Lake Shore Blvd. and through the Ex.

No such downforce with his No. 27 Dodge. Those cars slide around the Toronto track like they were on skates.

“It is like two different worlds,” Ranger said. “These (stock cars) are heavy and the braking zones are miles apart.”

But Ranger is obviously a fast learner.

Since quitting IndyCar type racing after the 2007 season, Ranger has made one of the most successful transitions to stock cars ever, winning two of the past three NASCAR Canadian Tire Series championships and this year is also competing in the NASCAR K&N Series, where he has already recorded a pair of victories.

Plus, he has ventured up into the NASCAR Nationwide Series where he had a third-place finish last year in the NAPA 200 at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.

“I love these cars,” Ranger said. “They are way harder to drive than the open-wheel cars, but it’s also way more fun.”

A major part of the challenge of stock car driving, he said, is that braking is so different.

“Going into a corner you have to be so much smoother,” he said. “You can’t go deep like you can in an open wheel car.”

He’ll start Saturday’s race beside Canada’s other young gun, 22-year-old J.R. Fitzptarick, who lit up the track with a lap of 1:17.104 in his No. 84 Fitzpatrick Motorsports Chevrolet.

Fitzpatrick thinks the race will be a slugfest.

“It will be all about survival,” he said. “After about three or four laps our brakes will start to fail and the cars will be sliding all over the place. It could be a mess.”

One of his concerns is that there are a number of drivers in the series who are not good road course racers and that could result in some bid wrecks.

“To win (on Saturday) you will have to avoid the wrecks and keep your brakes on the car for as long as possible,” Fitzpatrick said.

American Jason Bowles, of Ontario, Calif., will start third on a lap of 1:17.469.

D.J. Kennington, of

St. Thomas, Ont., and Anthony Simone, of Holland Landing, Ont., will start fourth and fifth respectively.

dean.mcnulty@sunmedia.ca


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