DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The 2014 season was supposed to be Andrew Ranger’s triumphant return to the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series presented by Mobil 1. The road to a potential third championship has been quite bumpy to start, but this week’s Jiffy Lube 100 presented by La Petite Bretonne at Circuit ICAR provides Ranger with the perfect opportunity to get back in the Winner’s Circle.
Ranger, from Roxton Pond, has been victorious in each of the two previous seasons at Circuit ICAR in his native Quebec. The triumphs have come in completely dominating fashion as well; he led 25 of 31 circuits in 2012 and wire-to-wire a year ago.
A similar performance by Ranger on Sunday at the 2.113-mile, 14-turn road course in Mirabel would go a long way toward turning around an unfortunate start to 2014. Ranger’s pole for the opener at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park was negated by a penalty for unapproved impound adjustments, and eventual electrical issues resulted in a 21st place finish. Then last time out at Autodrome Chaudiere, Ranger was involved in an on-track incident that relegated him to 12th place. Heading to Circuit ICAR he sits 11th in the championship standings, 29 points behind leader J.R. Fitzpatrick.
The good news for Ranger is that there are still nine races to go on the schedule. Even better news is that three of the nine are at road courses, a discipline where he has few equals. Fourteen of his 17 career Canadian Tire Series checkered flags have been captured at road courses, including his last eight in a row. He even has three more such triumphs in NASCAR K&N Pro Series action.
Sunday’s Jiffy Lube 100 will also provide Ranger with an opportunity at history. He is the only driver since the Canadian Tire Series was founded in 2007 to win the same race three years in a row. The 27-year-old won three straight events at Circuit de Trois-Rivieres from 2008-10, and an ICAR victory this week would match the feat.
Ranger doesn’t figure to go unchallenged this week, however. Fitzpatrick was the class of the field in the opener, and fellow road course ace L.P. Dumoulin has had a solid start to the 2014 campaign after winning twice at CTMP a year ago. Both Fitzpatrick and Dumoulin have a top-five career average finish at Circuit ICAR.
The Race: The Jiffy Lube 100 presented by La Petite Bretonne is the third event of the 2014 season for the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series presented by Mobil 1 and the second of four road-course events on the schedule. This is the series’ fourth visit Circuit ICAR.
The Procedure: The starting field is 30 cars, including provisionals. The first 25 cars will qualify through NASCAR Road Race (group) qualifying. The remaining five spots will be awarded through the provisional process. The race will be 30 laps covering 63.37 miles (102 kilometers).
The Track: Circuit ICAR is located northwest of Montreal, Quebec, on the grounds of Montreal-Mirabel Airport, which has been closed to commercial flights since 2004. The complex has over three kilometers of road circuits with multiple configurations, a .25-mile drag strip, skid pad, drift park, autocross track and a one-kilometer karting track designed by Jacques Villeneuve.
The Pole Winners: Alex Tagliani was the inaugural event’s pole winner in 2011. Qualifying was rained out in 2012 and Andrew Ranger took the pole a year ago in a track record lap of 95.938 seconds (79.289 mph).
The Race Winners: The first ICAR event saw Robin Buck take the checkered flag and Ranger was victorious in the two subsequent events in Mirabel.
Jiffy Lube 100 Notes:
First of Four Races in 20 Days: Following a long offseason, and just two events since the season began in mid-May, the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series presented by Mobil 1 schedule will kick into high gear this week. Starting with the Jiffy Lube 100 presented by La Petite Bretonne, the Canadian Tire Series will contest four events in a span of 20 calendar days. Following Circuit ICAR, the annual western swing will take the series to Alberta on July 11 at Edmonton International Raceway and to Auto Clearing Motor Speedway in Saskatoon on July 16. The 20-day run will conclude back in Quebec on July 26 at Autodrome St. Eustache.
Second of Four Road Course Races: Circuit ICAR will play host to the second of four road course events for the Canadian Tire Series in 2014. The season opened at Ontario’s Canadian Tire Motorsport Park on May 18, and the series will return there on Aug. 31. The third of four road course races will be contested at Quebec’s Circuit de Trois-Rivieres on Aug. 10.
Distinguished Road Course History: Of the previous 89 all-time events in Canadian Tire Series history, 32 were contested on road courses. That’s an exceptional percentage of road course events when compared to other NASCAR national and regional touring series. Circuit ICAR is one of six different road course facilities that have played host to the Canadian Tire Series since its inaugural 2007 season.
Steckly Still in Search of First Road Course Win: Three-time titlists Scott Steckly has participated in all 32 of those road course races in Canadian Tire Series history, and recorded 18 top-five finishes in the process, but the first checkered flag on the road remains elusive. Steckly ranks third on the series’ all-time wins list with 15, and all have come on ovals. Steckly has posted four road course runner-up finishes, including last year at Circuit ICAR.
Inaugural ICAR Pole Winner Tagliani Set to Return: Famed Quebec racer Alex Tagliani is set to return to Circuit ICAR for the first time since the Canadian Tire Series’ inaugural event at the Mirabel course in 2011, when he captured the pole position and finished eighth. Tagliani did not participate in the 2014 opener at CTMP, and finished 14th last time out on the oval at Autodrome Chaudiere. Including the Jiffy Lube 100, he expected to run eight of the remaining nine events on the schedule.
Strong Start for Dumoulin: It may only be two races into the 2014 campaign, but L.P. Dumoulin is looking like a championship contender. With a fourth place finish in the CTMP opener and a fifth last time out at Chaudiere, Dumoulin has posted back-to-back top-five finishes for the second time in his 39-race career. In the three previous Circuit ICAR events the Quebec native has posted two fourth place finishes and was third in last year’s event.
Brisebois is Back: A 16-year veteran of the National Hockey League, 14 years of which were spent with his hometown Montreal Canadians, Patrice Brisebois is set to make his first Canadian Tire Series appearance of 2014 with the Jiffy Lube 100 at Circuit ICAR. Brisebois has one previous start at ICAR, a 17th place finish in the inaugural 2011 event. Brisebois has made 10 Canadian Tire Series starts since 2009, the last at Circuit de Trois-Rivieres in 2013. Brisebois’ No. 71 Dodge entry will carry the logo of the race sponsor Jiffy Lube.
Last Time Out: Chaudiere
The second race on the 2014 NASCAR Canadian Tire Series presented by Mobil 1 schedule was contested on June 15 at Autodrome Chaudiere in Vallee-Jonction, Quebec. Here are some highlights from the Budweiser 300:
• Jason Hathaway took home the checkered flag in the inaugural Budweiser 300 in a dominating performance that saw him lead four different times for a career-high 177 laps. It was his fourth career victory.
• Steve Mathews captured his third career pole prior to the event and led a career-high 64 laps en route to a third place finish.
• Mark Dilley netted a runner-up finish in his season debut and led 60 laps.
• Autodrome Chaudiere became the 16th track all-time to play host to the Canadian Tire Series, and 10th different oval.
• The race was postponed one day due to adverse conditions caused by three days of rain at the facility.
Next Time Out: Edmonton
Following this week’s event at Circuit ICAR, the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series presented by Mobil 1 will get right back at it with the first leg of the annual western swing at Edmonton International Raceway on Friday, July 11. The Alberta Has Energy 300 will be the series’ inaugural event at the quarter-mile located in Wetaskiwin, Alberta. EIR has been a NASCAR Whelen All-American Series member track since 2005.