J.R Fitzpatrick and Andrew Ranger are 2 of the hottest drivers I have ever had the pleasure of watching on the track, and watching them race each other is like putting a match to gasoline.Ã‚Â Both have outstanding ability behind the wheel and both have an on track temper and off track personality that will shine when given the opportunity.Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Watching these 2 race each other at Mosport in 2007 was something I still tell stories about.Ã‚Â Although Fitzpatrick was out front all day, Ranger, who had started from the pole, was dealing with issue after issue and still climbing towards the front.Ã‚Â In an incident that only the 2 of them really know what happened in the back stretch of the Mario Andretti Straightaway, Ranger took the lead on the final lap and took his first win in the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series in a season where he proved to be a champion right out of the gate.
J.R. Fitzpatrick has been in this game a very long time for someone so relatively young.Ã‚Â Getting his start at the age of 6 by racing Karts and moving on the late models by the age of 13, he’s been building his skill set and his dream almost since birth it seems.Ã‚Â Born in 1988 in Cambridge Ontario, racing has always been in this young mans sights.
Fitzpatrick’s skills on the track have not gone unnoticed by the big names in the sport.Ã‚Â He drove all 3 road courses in the Nationwide Series for Dale Earnhardt Jr in the Jr Motorsports in the 2010 season #7 entry, also driven by Danica Patrick for a part of the season.Ã‚Â Fitzpatrick got his first taste of racing in karts at the age of six, moving quickly to the Canadian Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (CASCAR) junior ranks and then on to Late Model stock cars by the time he was 13 years old.Ã‚Â Racing in what was the Cascar Super Series and is now the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series at age 16, Fitzpatrick finished 11th in the point standings and second in the Rookie of the Year standings in 2004. Then at 17, he achieved three top-five and five top-10 finishes, scoring his first win.Ã‚Â In 2006 at the age ofÃ‚Â 18 he became the youngest driver to become a Canadian Tire Series National Champion with one win, five podium finishes and two pole awards.
In 2007 when NASCAR took over the CASCAR series and brought a little more attention to the sport here in Canada, J.R. went on to show his talent at every opportunity.Ã‚Â Taking three consecutive poles (Montreal, Mosport Speedway & Trois-Rivieres) as well as being the first driver in the newly renamed series to win 2 consecutive races at SunValley Speedway followed a week later at the Grand Prix of Edmonton.
Now on track skill is not all I like to look at when writing about a driver, but when that skill set impresses me repeatedly there simply is no denying it.Ã‚Â Countless times I have seen J.R. take an 8th or 10th place car and run it past the field for a win or at the very least a top 5.Ã‚Â I have watched him out qualify the field on a number of occasions, the most memorable to me was in 2008 at the Mosport Fathers Day weekend when he took his unsponsored #84 entry and qualified first.Ã‚Â Later when I met him in the paddock I shook his hand and reminded him that qualifying like that would have sponsors on the hood in no time if he could keep it up.Ã‚Â He took it in stride and smiled with easy grace and continued to sign autographs for the kids that came up and asked for it.Ã‚Â A truly remarkable young man who has risen in the sport due to his skill and humility and will certainly make a name for himself as his career continues.
Andrew Ranger (born November 20, 1986 in Roxton Pond, Quebec) is a Canadian racing driver driving in the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series in the #27 Ford Fusion for Jacombs racing and the #35 Waste ManagementÃ‚Â Chevy in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East.Ã‚Â Following his fathers 25 year career driving modified dirt race cars Andrew lays all the blame on his love for the sport directly on his dad.Ã‚Â “He bought me my first Go Kart and I’ve been racing ever since.”
Ranger made his debut in the big leagues in theÃ‚Â Champ Car World Series inÃ‚Â 2005 and became the youngest driver in the series’ history to finish on the podium. (2nd place, Monterrey, Mexico.) After a few solid finishes at the beginning of the season, Ranger’s year went downhill as he mostly struggled in the second half of the season, but held on to 10th in the points championship.Ã‚Â He remained in the open wheel series through the 2006 season driving for Mi-Jack Conquest Racing and maintained a 10th place finish for the season with a best place finish of 5th for the year.Ã‚Â On March 30, 2007, Ranger announced that he would no longer seek opportunities in Champ Car.Ã‚Â Instead he was looking for a ride in a stock car, starting with the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series.
Moving to the stock car world proved to be an excellent choice for Ranger.Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â In his inaugural season in 2007 he came onto the stage like a man on fire.Ã‚Â Ã‚Â With 1 win, 7 top Fives and 10 top Ten’s he earned enough points to take the championship by 103 points over D.J. Kennington.Ã‚Â In 2008 he finished in 4th in points at seasons end but that seemed only to push him harder.Ã‚Â in 2009 he came back with a vengeance to claim a single season series record of 6 wins, as well as 8 top Five’s and 13 top Ten’s and another championship in only his third year in the series.Ã‚Â His accomplishments so far have also not gone unnoticed.Ã‚Â He has twice been invited to participate in NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown in 2008 and again in Jan. 2010.Ã‚Â And as if that were not enough he then made his NASCAR Nationwide Series debut on Aug. 2, 2008 in Montreal and made four additional starts in the series that season.
Getting a chance to race against some of the top road racers in the world, in the Nationwide race at the Circuit de Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal, such as Marcos Ambrose, Carl Edwards and another hometown favourite Jacques Villeneuve, have certainly been on of the highlights of his career so far.Ã‚Â Starting from the 13th position on the grid and ending up with a finish of 3rd really showed us all how much talent Andrew has within himself.
Both of these young men are quality individuals.Ã‚Â When lined up for autograph sessions they gladly tell the kids that ask what it’s like to be inside the car, the smile and pose for pictures, and act as true ambassadors for the sport.Ã‚Â They have the in the seat skills required to move forward in the sport but have yet to break that glass ceiling into the big league of NASCAR’s top tier.Ã‚Â Mark my words though, both of these boys are worth keeping an eye on, and when they finally do race each other again I can’t wait to see the sparks fly.