Former Indy car driver Andrew Ranger picked up the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West victory at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif.
SONOMA, Calif. — Andrew Ranger ran out of gas on the final lap, but fortunately, the checkered flag was in sight. Ranger coasted across the finish line to capture the Thunder Valley Casino Resort 200 at Infineon Raceway on Saturday.
It gave him a victory in his first start in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West. The two-time NASCAR Canadian Tire Series presented by Mobil 1 champion had made two starts previously this year in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East.
“All race long, my crew chief told me to try to save as much fuel as I can,” Ranger said. “I saved fuel a little bit, not much. Right there in the last corner of the last lap, I saw the car moving a really weird. I saw something wrong with the engine. I said it’s probably the fuel.”
In addition to trying to save fuel, Ranger said he had tried to take care of his car and tires throughout the event.
“I tried to save my stuff all race long, but I could see behind me and in front of me the guys were pushing really hard,” he said. “I was trying to stay on the pace. I tried to save my tires, at the same time.”
Paulie Harraka grabbed second place on the final lap and was followed by Brandon Davis, who was making his second series start. Two-time series champion Eric Holmes and Michael Self were fourth and fifth, respectively. Rounding out the top 10 were Todd Souza, Luis Martinez Jr., Jim Inglebright, Moses Smith and Wes Banks.
Holmes took over the lead in the championship standings by 24 points over David Mayhew – who started third, but struggled to a 23rd-place finish with engine trouble.
Jason Bowles, who won the Coors Light Pole Award on Friday and led the initial 16 laps, was running second to Ranger in the closing stages on the 1.99-mile road course but coasted to a halt 100 feet short of the finish line after he ran out of gas. Bowles was credited with a 22nd-place finish in the event he won each of the last two years.
Several other of the front runners, including NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver David Gilliland, who led a race-high 19 laps, had trouble late in Saturday’s event. Gilliland finished 28th after pulling off the course while running second after 56 laps with transmission issues.
Ranger led twice for 17 laps. He edged Gilliland to lead lap 44 and then wrestled the lead away from him for good following a lap 49 restart. Ranger led the remainder of the event, pulling away to win by 6.059 seconds.
Six of Ranger’s nine wins in the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series were on road courses and he was third in the NASCAR Nationwide Series event at Montreal last year. He is the first Canadian winner in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West since Gary Smith won at Portland (Ore.) Speedway on July 10, 1998.
With his win, Ranger secured a spot in the prestigious postseason NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown.
The Thunder Valley Casino Resort 200 will air on SPEED on Thursday, June 24 at 6 p.m. ET.
Harraka’s runner-up finish boosted him to third in the championship standings – behind Holmes and Mayhew. Jonathon Gomez, who came back from a multi-car incident on lap 41 to finish 11th, is fourth in the standings. Moses Smith is fifth in points. Rounding out the top 10 are Souza, Greg Pursley, Martinez, Self and Blake Koch.
The next event on the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West schedule is the King Taco 200 at Toyota Speedway at Irwindale (Calif.) on July 3.