Andrew Ranger, the 23 year old, two-time NASCAR Canadian Tire Series champion, will make use of his secured starting position to do battle with some of NASCAR’s most prominent up and coming drivers in the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown on Jan. 29-30 at Toyota Speedway at Irwindale, CA.
The annual all-star event attracts the top drivers from across North America to what has become the high point of short-track racing in the U.S. and is often referred to as the ‘Daytona 500 of short-track racing.’
Ranger, out of Roxton Pond, Que., will race one of two Steve McGowen prepared Chevrolets, with the other one being driven by David Mayhew, who won a pair of NASCAR K&N Pro Series West events in 2009.
Mayhew also has a secure spot in the starting lineup as a NASCAR K&N Pro Series race winner.
Ranger, who won his second Canadian Tire Series championship in 2009, accomplished it by setting a single-season series record six wins, while beating out NASCAR Nationwide Series competitor DJ Kennington by 167 points for the crown.
Among those six victories, three came on oval tracks, while the others were a result of his tremendous expertise on the road courses.
It was through his road course ability that he caught the attention of the U.S. stock-car media last August in the NASCAR Nationwide Series event in Montreal. Ranger staged a race-long battle with Carl Edwards and Marcos Ambrose before settling for a third-place finish in the race.
Ranger’s first stockcar victory on an oval track came last July 18 at SunValley Speedway in Vernon, B.C., where he dominated on the half-mile tri-oval by lapping every car in the field but one.
This win validated his skills behind the wheel of a NASCAR stockcar after making the switch from open-wheel racing, where he was a top 10 performer in the Champ Car World Series, which has since reunified itself with the Indy Racing League.
“That victory was huge for me,” said Ranger. “If I was going to be racing in NASCAR, then I had to be able to win on ovals. Everything clicked that night. All of the things that Dave Jacombs (car owner) and Billy Burns (crew chief) had taught me fell into place.”
This will be Ranger’s second appearance in the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown, having competed in the event following his first Canadian Tire Series championship in 2007.
That outing lasted just 31 laps, leaving him with a 39th-place finish. Nonetheless, this time around, Ranger will be entering the race with a lot more confidence than his first time racing in the All-Star Showdown back in 2007.
Ranger had a total of 13 stockcar races under his belt with just a single victory- on a road course.
Entering this weekend's race, Ranger has three full Canadian Tire Series seasons with two titles and nine wins, six NASCAR Nationwide starts, and a handful of other stockcar events to his credit.
“I think this time I will be a lot more comfortable with everything,” he said. “Last time, I had never seen the track before and the car was totally new to me. It’s still not going to be easy, but it all won’t be so new.”
Practically all of the drivers in the race will have the home-field advantage on Ranger as the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series competes in different equipment than the NASCAR K&N Pro Series cars used in the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown.
“I’m really excited about this opportunity to race against all these talented drivers,” said Ranger.
“Most of the other drivers are more familiar with the cars, but I’ve had a few starts in the NASCAR Nationwide Series cars which are pretty close. So, we’ll see what happens. I’m definitely looking forward to it.”