In what would be one of the most exciting finishes at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve for the NASCAR Pinty’s Series, the battle for the checkered flag would see two drivers trying to keep their championship hopes alive, while a visiting road-course phenomenon fought with a local favorite for the top spot.
Coming into the chicane on the last lap of the 2010 NAPA Autopro 100 in what was then known as the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series, it was all between the reigning series champion Andrew Ranger and the 2009 NASCAR West champ Jason Bowles.
RACING-REFERENCE: 2010 NAPA Autopro 100 at Montreal Race Results
Ranger led all but three laps the entire race. It was on that final trip through the hairpin that Bowles made his move for the lead, pulling off a bump-and-run on the No. 27 Dodge Dealers of Quebec Dodge.
But Ranger wasn’t finished.
The then 23-year-old from Roxton Pond, Quebec, returned the favor in the final two turns, but this time the No. 11 RaceWithRusty.com Dodge of Bowles went wide making heavy contact with the famous ‘Wall of Champions’.
In the end, it was Ranger going to Victory Lane followed by Don Thomson Jr. and Robin Ruck. Bowles would finish in the 20th position, never making it back to the finish line.
"We came on the hairpin and tried to be really smooth, he hit me on the back and I don’t think it was fair," said Ranger after the race. "He tried everything to win, so he took the lead, we came into the chicane and tried really hard and you know what, I took the lead."
"Here comes Ranger, is he going to punt him? IS HE GOING TO PUNT HIM? ?
– NASCAR Pinty’s Series (@NASCARPintys) April 8, 2020
This was Ranger’s second win at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. He would go on to collect a third win at the track just one season later, and never finished worse than second there.
One of the biggest storylines heading into Montreal was the points battle between Kennington and Fitzpatrick. Only 16 points separated the two and both were looking to leave with good finishing positions.
However, fate had other plans. Fitzpatrick got lucky early on in the race and even led three laps. But mechanical issues would force multiple trips to pit road and the No .84 Schick Hydro Chevrolet would finish in 18th.
Problems for points leader, J.R. Fitzpatrick ?
How much is the going to hurt his points lead?
– NASCAR Pinty’s Series (@NASCARPintys) April 7, 2020
Kennington also had a string of bad luck during the race.
After getting into an incident on Lap 3 with Kerry Micks, multiple repairs were required on the No.17 Castrol Edge Dodge and he finished the race 10 laps down, in the 28th position.
Leaving Montreal, Fitzpatrick had increased his points gap to 51 over Kennington. He would hold onto that lead until the second-last race at Riverside International Raceway in Nova Scotia, where he finished 13th.
Meanwhile, Kennington began to chip away at the points gap, going on to win two more races that season: at Ontario’s Barrie Speedway and Riverside. This secured him his first NASCAR Pinty’s Series championship, by 87 points over Fitzpatrick.
RACING-REFERENCE: 2010 Season Points Standings
While Montreal was Ranger’s final Pinty’s Series race of 2010, he continued to race down in the states. He made two more NASCAR East starts, at New Hampshire and Dover, and one more West start at Pheonix. Ranger raced part-time in Pinty’s again in 2011 but would make his full-time return in 2012.
Bowles finished his 2010 season with three starts in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. He made two more starts in the Pinty’s Series in 2011 at Toronto and Montreal, where he finished 21st and third, respectively.
Don Thomson Jr. who found himself in second at Montreal, finished the season fourth in the standings, 111 points behind Kennington despite finishing in the top five for the remainder of the races.
Robin Buck rounded out the podium in his final start of the year. He would kick off his 2011 season with a win at Circuit ICAR in Mirabel, Quebec, and would also pick up a win at GP3R later that season.
Scott Steckly finished fourth at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve and ended the season with an average finish of 6.2, while Jason Hathaway finished the race in fifth. It was his best finishing position at Montreal.