Toyota Atlantic Championship Series leader Jon Fogarty staved off late pressure from rookie sensation Andrew Ranger to win the Molson Indy Toronto by just 0.358 of a second on Sunday.
"I knew that Andrew would have a lot of motivation with this being a Canadian race, so I had to stand on it," said Fogarty, who led from start to finish to capture his fourth win of the season in seven starts for Pacific Coast Motorsports this season. "I was quick where I needed to be on the race track, so he couldn't get close enough to pass."
Ranger clinched his fourth podium of the year and matched his highest finish of the season. He finished just behind teammate Ryan Dalziel in a one-two Sierra Sierra Enterprises Team victory at Long Beach in the first race of the season.
Fellow rookie Ronnie Bremer finished third, just eight seconds off the pace, making for an interesting Rookie of the Year race. American Jonathan Bomarito, who led the rookie driver standings before this weekend, went into the tire barrier in turn five on the opening lap and had to retire. This allowed Ranger and Bremer to leapfrog Bomarito in the standings. They now have 146, 145, and 137 points respectively.
"In the beginning, it was okay but I had a lot of trouble with the car and (Andrew) Ranger passed me," said Bremer, a Polestar Racing driver. "Then later in the race, I used my tires too much so I had to back off a bit. But I am happy with my result today."
Rahal/Letterman's Danica Patrick finished fourth, 9.278 seconds back, and Bryan Sellers of Lynx Racing, who started second on the grid, rounded out the top five, 9.913 seconds behind the leader.
Scotsman Ryan Dalziel, who sits in second place in the driver's championship, was quickest in practice this morning but only managed a sixth place finish.
Other drivers on the lead lap were Ryan Dalziel (12.263), Alex Figge (20.036), Chris Festa (48.850) and Philip Fayer (50.493). The rest of the final classification order in the 12-car field was Eric Jensen, Bomarito, and Josh Hunt.
Fogarty swept both the provisional and final qualifying sessions for two championship points, and with the victory today, extends his lead to 19 points over Dalziel in the driver's championship. Fogarty has 184 points, followed by Dalziel (165), Patrick (162), Ranger (146), and Bremer (145).
"There was a lot of hard work and it wasn't easy out there," said Fogarty. "This year my intention was to open up a gap early, but the two yellows didn't allow me to do that."
Two years ago, Fogarty had the pole position, but collided with teammate Luis Diaz on lap five and both drivers had to retire.
The win is Fogarty's fourth of the season and the fifth for the Pacific Coast Motorsports Team. Teammate Alex Figge captured the checkered flag in the Monterrey Grand Prix back in May.
When the green flag came out to start the race, pole sitter Fogarty was the first around Turn 1. Sellers, who started second on the grid had a slow start allowing both Bremer and Ranger to take over second and third. Then, still on the opening lap, the first yellow of the day came out as Bomarito hit the tire wall in turn 5 following contact with Hunt.
Jensen, who sat in pit lane for the first four laps finally got his Jensen Motorsport car going and joined the race.
On the restart, Patrick took advantage of the struggling Sellers car and took over fourth spot just before Turn 1. Moments later, Ranger passed Bremer to take over second spot for good.
The drivers were still unable to complete a full lap under green as Hunt spun out between turns 1 and 2, bringing out the caution flag once again.
When the grid went back to green, Fogarty put out a stonking lap to pull almost a full second ahead of Ranger. However, the two rookies stayed close behind, keeping within 2 seconds of the leader through the first 14 laps of the 35-lap race.
On lap 24, Bomarito was cleared to rejoin the race after Toyota Atlantic officials determined that the car could continue in the race despite minimal damage.
On that same lap, Ranger edged even closer to Fogarty. Fogarty upped the challenge by clocking the quickest lap of the day in a time of 1:06.966. The achievement allowed him to capture the Argent Fast Lap Award and $2000 was donated to charity in Fogarty's name.
Two laps later, the gap between the two leaders was shaved to 0.477 seconds and the event was turning into a two-horse race as Bremer started to fall off the pace, four seconds back.
On lap 30, Fogarty widened the margin to 1.069 seconds. With just five laps to go, Ranger mounted a final challenge. He was 0.633 of a second back on the second to last lap and 0.590 of a second back as the two cars crossed the line for the white flag. Ranger could not get close enough on the back straightaway to pass at Turn 3, the most opportune place on the track to overtake, and he had to settle for third.
The next race on the Toyota Atlantic Championship Series is the Molson Indy Vancouver on Sunday, July 25 at Concord Pacific Place, a 1.781-mile temporary street circuit.