Andrew Ranger hasn’t been one to gloat, especially in recent years, but he wants you to know that he’s back.
He’s back from a two-year stint where the results were clearly not what you would expect from the two-time NASCAR Pinty’s Series champion from Roxton Pond, Quebec. He’s all the way back from a winless 2017 and a 2018 in which he showed flashes of renewed brilliance but wasn’t all the way back to his previous form.
He’s back and ready to chase a third championship in NASCAR’s national series north of the border.
The 32-year-old, and yes, that’s how young he remains, looked every bit the twentysomething prodigy that should have been a star in INDYCAR or the highest levels of NASCAR on Sunday in the APC 200 at Jukasa Motor Speedway.
He led 82 laps from the pole and held off defending winner Kevin Lacroix in NASCAR overtime. With the triumph, he took the points lead away from his fellow Québécois.
He briefly held the championship lead last season following back-to-back wins at Autodrome Chaudiere and Toronto but faded down the stretch.
Ranger wants you to know there was a reason behind that slump and to know that he feels strong conviction that this is for real.
“What the people don’t know, is that when we signed with Mopar, we were there with the built engine and that was 100 lbs. heavier than everyone else,” Ranger told Short Track Scene after the race. “So, on a long run, it was very very bad. And it was like that for two years.
“So, after that, we swapped to the new Mopar M1 engine and we’re 50 horsepower down to everyone until NASCAR could see what it’s capable of. So last year, we came up a little bit and this year we’re caught up to everyone else.”
Ranger isn’t one to gloat so that could spell really bad news for the competition.
Ranger won twice last season, once in rain-shortened fashion at Chaudiere and again at Toronto — a testament to his drive even when he believes he’s down on horsepower.
This is the same guy that just scored his tour record 25th all-time victory. This is the same guy that once won six of 13 races en route to the 2009 champion. This is the same guy that won every year until that ill-fated 2017 season.
If he says he’s back, expect a dogfight of a championship between Ranger, LP Dumoulin, Alex Tagliani, Kevin Lacroix and Alex Labbe.
And the training wheels are off for Mopar.
“Sometimes, it was very tough because we knew we could go faster, and it’s not because the engine couldn’t do it, it’s because NASCAR didn’t want us to have more horsepower. That was hard for me sometimes.
“Overall now everything is fine and I’m so happy. The guys are working hard, and this is the same group we’ve had for four years. We can do this.”
He’s done it twice and now the sleeping giant has woken up.
Should the Pinty’s garage be afraid?
“Yes, exactly. Absolutely,” Ranger said.