Making his return to the NASCAR Pinty’s Series, Andrew Ranger entered the 2021 season as the most recent series Champion. Partnering up with a new team, Rick Ware Racing, both were ready to make a splash this year.
Kicking off the season with a doubleheader at Sunset Speedway, the No. 51 team was ready to go for the Frontline Workers 125 and the General Tire 125.
Starting sixth, Ranger was wicked fast right out the gate. He immediately began battling in the top-five and even led two laps during the latter part of the race.
When the checkered flag flew in race one, he was runner up to Raphael Lessard.
Qualifying for the General Tire 125 was set off of the drivers’ fastest lap in race one and Ranger had earned himself the pole award.
While he led the first lap, Lessard took the reins over quickly. As the No. 51 Dodge began dropping positions, it was clear something had gone amiss on the car.
When the caution came out on lap 30, Ranger immediately brought it down pit lane to the attention of his crew. It was diagnosed as a sway bar issue and the team got to work to repair it.
Ranger rejoined the field a total of 19 laps down and in the end finished 16th, and left Sunset seventh in points.
GRAND PRIX DE TROIS-RIVIÈRES
Ranger is the most winningest driver at a few tracks in the series, but one of the most difficult to achieve it at is GP3R. A four-time winner on the streets of Trois-Rivières, the 34-year-old was looking to extend that record in 2021.
Starting third for the Guardian Angels 60, Ranger got cycled back early on after the mandatory pit stops but started his charge forward, earning those positions back.
On lap 39, he had settled into the fifth position and was battling with D.J. Kennington. When the two entered turn six, Ranger immediately lost control and spun out.
He immediately brought the No. 51 Miles for Migraine/Canadian Super Sellers Dodge down pit lane and the team got to work trying to repair a brake issue.
The problem was irreparable at the track and Ranger retired from the race, finishing 19th, 22 laps down, and bumping him to ninth in the standings.
Another track that Ranger is wicked fast at is Circuit ICAR, and that showed true in 2021 after he picked up his third pole award there.
The four-time winner started the La Fernandiere 75 alongside Kevin Lacroix, and after leading the first ten laps, the No. 74 Dodge took control of the field.
Ranger stayed close behind him, never dropping below fourth. When the rain arrived, he quickly found himself on the rear bumper of Lacroix once again.
Heading into NASCAR Overtime, Ranger had to hold off L.P. Dumoulin and Alex Tagliani for second place, but did so successfully, picking up his second runner-up finish of the season.
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CANADIAN TIRE MOTORSPORT PARK
For the final road course events of the year, drivers arrived at CTMP for two intense races.
As a former winner on the 2.459 KM track, Ranger was optimistic, especially after scoring a third-place starting position for the Olymel Grand Prix of Ontario.
However, when the green flag dropped for the 30-lap sprint race on Saturday, the No. 51 Dodge caught the attention of fans and officials, as it began smoking out the rear end.
Many began to speculate if the car had an issue, and NASCAR eventually gave him the black flag, as drivers behind him reported oil on their windshields.
When the caution came out on lap 11, Ranger then took the opportunity to answer the black flag and head down pit road to diagnose the problem.
He rejoined the field in 21st and began his charge forward, picking up position after position. But the smoke persisted and with 2 laps to go Ranger was black-flagged again.
He remained on track, finishing in the seventh position, but was later penalized for failing to obey the black flag in the closing laps. He was demoted to the tail end of the lead lap and was scored 19th.
Heading into Sunday, the team worked tirelessly to identify the issue before the next race. While the issue resurfaced during qualifying for the Clarington 200, the crew found a fix and the No. 51 Miles for Migraine/Canadian Super Sellers Dodge was ready to go for 51 laps around CTMP.
While they did qualify fourth, Ranger had to start from the back due to unapproved adjustments and began the long trek to the front of the field.
By the end of the race, he was back up to fifth where he stayed, bringing home another top-five.
Returning to the ovals, Flamboro Speedway was a track that Ranger had no experience at in the NASCAR Pinty’s Series. You wouldn’t be able to tell that though, because he was wicked fast when he hit the track, picking up the second-place starting position.
Rookie Treyten Lapcevich controlled the field for the first 15 laps but after blowing a tire, Ranger took over the lead, dominating the MotoMaster 125.
D.J. Kennington was putting pressure on him in the final laps but was no match for his former teammate.
After leading 110 laps, Ranger picked up his first win of the 2021 season, propelling him to third in the points standings. The victory also marked Rick Ware Racing’s first-ever win in NASCAR.
— NASCAR Pinty’s Series (@NASCARPintys) September 12, 2021
One more weekend remained as the series returned to Delaware Speedway for the first time since 2017. While Ranger had never picked up a win at the track, he had never finished outside the top-ten there.
The first race of the weekend was the Canadian Tire 125 on Friday night, and the No. 51 Miles for Migraine/Canadian Super Sellers Dodge was starting sixth.
Ranger had a quiet race, letting Lapcevich and Kennington battle it out for the lead. He came home third and now sat 25 points behind Alex Tagliani for the championship.
On Sunday, it was time for the doubleheader and to crown a champion.
Ranger qualified seventh, but when the green flag dropped, he quickly found himself in the top-five.
With three laps to go, he was trying to make his move for the lead battling Kennington and Brandon Watson, but the caution came out, sending the QwickWick 125 into NASCAR Overtime.
When the restart got underway, Ranger was in an intense battle with Watson for second place. As Kennington crossed the finish line in first, the No. 51 did so in third.
Now, just the Pinty’s Fall Brawl remained. Starting positions were based on the drivers’ fastest laps in race one, and Ranger was starting seventh again.
By lap 25, he was back in the top-three and was putting pressure on Lapcevich and Kennington. Throughout the 150 lap race, different leaders cycled through, but Ranger was upfront the entire way.
When a late-race caution hit, it was Lacroix and Ranger on the front row for the restart.
With four to go, the No. 74 flew forward, while the No. 51 remained hot on his tail. With two laps left, Ranger made a move to the inside, taking the lead away from Lacroix and claiming victory at Delaware.
The win placed him second in points, just eight markers behind Dumoulin to finish the 2021 season.