Kawartha: Race notes, champion crowned

STECKLY WINS DODGE CHARGER 250 WHILE RANGER SEALS CHAMPIONSHIP FRASERVILLE, Ontario (Sept. 23, 2007) -- A pair of firsts marked the Dodge Charger 250 presented by Allied Steel Buildings at Kawartha Speedway. Scott Steckly (No. 22 Toronto...

STECKLY WINS DODGE CHARGER 250 WHILE RANGER SEALS CHAMPIONSHIP

FRASERVILLE, Ontario (Sept. 23, 2007) -- A pair of firsts marked the Dodge Charger 250 presented by Allied Steel Buildings at Kawartha Speedway.

Scott Steckly (No. 22 Toronto Marlies/Erb Group Dodge) exorcised a few demons to win his first NASCAR Canadian Tire Series presented by Sirius Satellite Radio race on Sunday evening, the last event of the 2007 season.

Andrew Ranger (No. 27 Wal-Mart/Tide Ford) hauled down the big prize and won the first-ever Canadian Tire Series championship. By winning the championship, Ranger earns a guaranteed starting position in the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown at Irwindale (Calif.) Speedway on October 19-20. Negotiations are ongoing for Ranger to participate in the showcase event that is telecast live by SPEED.

Steckly, of Milverton, Ontario, took the lead for good on lap 234, but had to hold off several charges from Peter Gibbons (No. 1 Canadian Tire/Master Craft Chevrolet). After a green-white-checkered finish, Steckly beat Gibbons to the finish line by just .341 seconds.

Earlier in the season, Steckly had a dominate car at SunValley Speedway in Vernon, B.C., but a green-white-checkered finish in that event allowed J.R. Fitzpatrick (No. 84 Milwaukee Electric Tools Chevrolet) to make a last lap pass for the win. There would be no denying Steckly this time around.

"I thought about it when that caution came out," said Steckly. "I said to myself, 'Oh no, not again.' I was not about to let it happen again."

Five Canadian Tire Series events, this season, were decided on the last lap. So, it was not beyond the realm of imagination for it to happen a sixth time. Gibbons was every bit as hungry for that first NASCAR win as Steckly.

"Peter (Gibbons) and I have raced each other hard over the years and we have a good relationship, so I was much more concerned with hitting my marks or him just beating me than I was about him spinning me or anything like that," said the victor.

Steckly's results this season have not always been indicative of the way he has run having been bitten by the bad luck bug on more than one occasion. However, this will make the off-season a little sweeter.

"We've had out share of bad things this year, but this win takes a great portion of that away," he said. "This momentum will carry us through the off-season and right into next year."

Ron Beauchamp Jr. (No. 60 Mopar/Mobil 1 Dodge) logged his best finish of the year with his third-place effort. Beauchamp, too, was snake bit at times throughout the year with various motor problems.

"After the year we had, this is as good as a win," he stated.

Derek Lynch (No. 77 Allied Steel Buildings/Canadian Shield Dodge) and Dave Whitlock (No. 39 Dickies/Hamilton Tiger-Cats Dodge) finished fourth and fifth, respectively.

Ranger, Jim Lapcevich, Jason White, Don Thomson Jr. and John Gaunt rounded out the top 10.

As for the battle for the championship, Ranger, out of Roxton Pond, Quebec, did what he needed to do. He stayed on the lead lap and finished in the top 10. He came into the race with a 41-point lead on D.J. Kennington (No. 17 Castrol Dodge), but Kennington blew a motor on lap 98 which, in effect, handed the title to Ranger. Had Kennington been able to stay in the race, it may have gotten interesting. After starting the race in the 15th, Kennington worked his way all the way up to the sixth position while Ranger was running in the middle of the pack. At one point, according to the running order, Kennington had trimmed the lead to just 16 points, but that was as close as it would get. The final unofficial margin was 103 points.

Ranger came into the season with just one stock car race under his belt, but he was no stranger to being near the top of the point standings. He finished 10th in the final CHAMP Car World Series standings a year ago.

Despite his success over the years in all kinds of cars, this title ranks at the top of his achievements.

"This is really something to win the first NASCAR Canadian Tire Series championship," said Ranger. "I came into the year thinking that a top-five finish in points would be a great year, but to win the championship is way more than I thought was possible. The competition in this series is tough. It really was a great year."

In addition to Ranger, both Kennington and Fitzpatrick are looking at their options for racing their way into the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown during the October 19 qualifying race.

-credit: nascar

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Series NASCAR Canada
Drivers Jason White , Peter Gibbons , Dave Whitlock , Ron Beauchamp Jr. , Don Thomson Jr. , Scott Steckly , Jim Lapcevich , Andrew Ranger , J.R. Fitzpatrick , John Gaunt , Derek Lynch