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The last laugh is all Ranger’s
[Editor’s Note: Let's make this clear upfront. Ranger wasn't good enough to win in Champ Car, regularly getting outpaced by his faster teammates, so NASCAR was his only option.]

Andrew Ranger has a message for all those people who said he made a mistake quitting the Champ Car World Series to go NASCAR racing.

"It was the best mistake I ever made," the 20-year-old from Roxton Pond, Que., said yesterday at Kawartha Speedway.

Ranger won in only his second start in the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series this season and has not finished outside of the top 10 since then.

He was leading the championship race going into last night's Dodge Charger 250 by a slim 41 points over the No. 17 Castrol Dodge of D.J. Kennington of St. Thomas.

And when the checkered flag dropped to end NASCAR's first season of weekly racing in Canada under the Canadian Tire banner, Ranger became the first champion of the new series.

Scott Steckly won the race in the No. 22 Erb Transportation Dodge.

His first NASCAR season was more than just results for Ranger, however.

"When I made the decision to leave open-wheel racing I didn't know what to expect," he said. "I was so tired of spending more time finding money to race than actually racing that I started not to like it."

Ranger said that it was hard to justify having to come up with $4 million a season to race in Champ Car, when all that got him was a ride with a team that had no real chance of winning.

Yet in spite of under-funded efforts, Ranger managed a top-10 championship finish in his second Champ Car season.

"I thought that would mean an automatic job back in the series where they would pay me," he said. "I was disappointed and disillusioned when I wasn't offered anything to go back this season."

Enter Dave Jacombs, who put Ranger in the No. 27 Wal-Mart/Tide Jacombs Racing Ford.

"They are actually paying me to race," Ranger said. "What a concept." Toronto Sun

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