MICKS OUTDUELS RANGER TO WIN GP3R 100 TROIS-RIVIERES, QUEBEC (Aug. 19, 2007) -- All the focus heading into the race was on the youngsters, Andrew Ranger (No. 27 Wal-Mart/Tide Ford) and J.R. Fitzpatrick (No. 84 Milwaukee Electric Tools ...
MICKS OUTDUELS RANGER TO WIN GP3R 100
TROIS-RIVIERES, QUEBEC (Aug. 19, 2007) -- All the focus heading into the race was on the youngsters, Andrew Ranger (No. 27 Wal-Mart/Tide Ford) and J.R. Fitzpatrick (No. 84 Milwaukee Electric Tools Chevrolet), but it was the veteran Kerry Micks (No. 02 Beyond Digital Imaging Ford), who emerged victorious in Sunday's GP3R 100 at the Grand Prix de Trois-Rivieres.
In a virtual repeat of the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve race two weeks ago in Montreal, Micks had to use a last lap pass of Ranger for the win after leading the way for much of the race. The two cars headed out of the final turn on the 1.53-mile, 10-turn course door to door with Micks crossing the finish line just .012 of a second ahead of Ranger in the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series presented by Sirius Satellite Radio event.
Ranger completed a pass of Micks, who had led the whole race, on lap 32. The caution flag waved on lap 35, when Alex Tagliani (No. 8 Gain/Wal-Mart Chevrolet) made contact with the wall while running in the second position, setting up a green-white-checkered dash to the finish. Micks assumed the second position and stayed on the rear deck lid of the Ranger machine for the first lap of the two-lap battle. On the final lap, Ranger was intent on holding off the advances of Micks, but he slid the car to the outside of turn eight giving Micks an opportunity to make a move. Micks, who hails from Mt. Albert, Ontario, took full advantage and was able to take a small lead into the final two turns. The two cars made repeated contact from that point on. They crossed the finish line virtually hooked together before sliding into the turn-one tire barrier.
"The finish was a little rough and not the way that either one of us wanted to end it," said the victorious Micks. "That's just the way it goes sometimes, though. We both wanted to win very badly. (Ranger) is a heck of a driver. It was quite a battle."
Micks won the final two of the four road course events on the Canadian Tire Series schedule. The other two were taken by Ranger and Fitzpatrick.
"I love road course racing. It's so challenging from both car set-up and driving standpoints," said Micks. "And this track is about as demanding as it gets. It's very technical and there's not a lot of room out there."
He came into the event very determined. A year ago while racing under the banner of the CASCAR Super Series, Micks won the pole, but blew the motor on the first lap.
"We had some unfinished business here, no doubt about it," he stated.
Ranger, a crowd favorite racing in his native Quebec, completed a pass of Micks on lap 22, but Kent Nuhn (No. 09 The Fuel Genie/Nuhn's Auto Recyclers) was stalled on the track at the entrance to pit road which brought out a full-field caution. Canadian Tire Series rules stipulate that the race lineup reverts back to the running order of the last green flag lap once the caution is displayed. Therefore, Micks was placed in front of Ranger before the subsequent re-start.
Once Ranger did work past Micks on lap 32, many in the crowd in excess of 16,000 were on their feet rooting for the home-grown favorite.
"After we just missed in Montreal, I really wanted to win this one for the great race fans of Quebec," said Ranger. "I got into the lead and was driving really hard. I was driving it deep into the corners and on the brakes very hard. We had the problem with the motor in practice and it gave us some problems when we rolled out on to the track to start the race, but it was awesome during the race.
"I'm not at all happy how this ended, but it was a good day for us in the points and we'll go on from here."
Trevor Seibert (No. 69 Lake Excavating/EMCO Waterworks Ford) made the trek east from his home base of Williams Lake, B.C. and it paid off. He started the race in the eighth position, played the patience game and took home the third-place trophy.
"I probably had the best view of anybody for that wild finish. I didn't need to stick my nose in there because three is definitely a crowd," Seibert said. "We're really pleased with this performance. We put this deal together pretty late to run the four road events, but it's been a blast. We're already looking forward to next year."
Jeff Lapcevich (No. 23 Tim Horton's/EMCEA Transport Chevrolet) notched his first top-five finish of the season by crossing the line in fourth. He was followed by his brother Jim (No. 25 EMCEA Transport/Tim Horton's Chevrolet) in fifth, who also collected his first 2007 top five.
Fitzpatrick started the race on the pole but was knocked out of contention for the win early on in the race. On lap 18, he, Scott Steckly (No. 22 Erb Group Dodge) and Robin Buck (No. 88 Ron's Burner Service/Jennifer Ashleigh Children's Charity Ford) all made contact leaving Fitzpatrick and Steckly facing the wrong way on the counter-clockwise course. Both were able to continue, but any hopes of a win were out the window.
Fitzpatrick, Pierre Bourque, Steckly, Jason Hathaway and local Trois-Rivieres driver Jean Francois Dumoulin rounded out the top 10.
The race was slowed by five caution periods covering 18 laps. Micks and Ranger were the only two race leaders. Micks led 33 laps while Ranger paced the field for eight.
Despite the disappointing second-place finish for Ranger, he extended his unofficial lead over Don Thomson Jr. (No. 4 Home Hardware Chevrolet) in the championship point standings from 37 to 91 points. Thomson's lead over the third, fourth and fifth-place drivers of Fitzpatrick, Micks and D.J. Kennington (No. 17 Castrol/Krispy Kreme Dodge) covers a span of just 21 points.
The Canadian Tire Series takes a well-deserved weekend off before closing the season with four races, all on oval tracks, in the first four weekends of September. Next up is a September 1 date at Cayugua Speedway Park for the Subway 200.