Tooele • No qualifying Saturday morning due to rain showers for the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West Race at the iON Camera Utah Grand Prix?
No problem for Canadian Andrew Ranger, who drove his No. 53 Waste Management Bagster Dodge to a first-place finish when the skies cleared at Miller Motorsports Park on Saturday afternoon.
“It was a really great race for me,” said Ranger, from Granby, Quebec, about an hour’s drive south of Montreal. “To win here is so fantastic.”
And how he did it was even more incredible.
Because there was no qualifying and he entered the event at the bottom of the points standings, Ranger started 19th — in last place, basically. Fittingly, Ranger crossed the finish line after 52 laps as a rainbow to the East delighted spectators, holding off Californian Greg Pursley and his quest for a fourth straight win in this event at MMP.
Pursley, of Newhall, Calif., was 1.63 seconds behind Ranger, and rookie Dylan Lupton of Wilton, Calif., placed third.
Park City’s Michael Self overcame a series of mishaps to finish fourth, his best finish ever at this event.
The race’s third caution flag, which came on lap 47 when the No. 42 Freightliner of Arizona Chevrolet, driven by Taylor Cuzick, ran out of fuel, set up an exciting green-white-checker finish.
Pursley took the lead from 17-year-old Canadian Cameron Hayley at lap 22 and held the advantage until he had to pit with a flat tire at lap 37. In all, Hayley led the most laps (19) but was knocked off course and out of the lead by Ranger when Hayley’s early braking surprised Ranger, who later apologized for the mishap.
It looked like Pursley was going to pass Ranger heading into turn one of the 2.2-mile east road course’s final lap, but couldn’t quite get it done.
“I tried to stay with him on the outside of [turn] one there, but he did a good job of squeezing me out. I kinda got in the dirt and missed a shift, and that allowed [Lupton] to get by us,” said Pursley, who eventually passed Lupton. “I just [barely] got back into second. But I knew that was as far as we were going to get. We had used it up pretty good to get back to where we were.”
A father of three, Ranger has now conquered two major road courses in the series now, having won at Sonoma, Calif., two years ago. He still holds the track record at Miller that he set two years ago.
“I really like to race in the West Series,” he said. “It is a fun series. The guys are great drivers. I always enjoy it.”
The race lasted 1 hour, 36 minutes and 57 seconds, and the average speed was 70.79 mph.
Storylines Ranger survives rain
R Andrew Ranger starts from 19th position to win the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West Race at MMP.
• Ranger beat Greg Pursle byt 1.63 seconds.