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TOOELE, Utah – Andrew Ranger charged from last to first to win the iON Camera Utah Grand Prix on Saturday at Miller Motorsports Park.
The victory on the 2.2-mile road course marked the second NASCAR K&N Pro Series West win for the driver from Roxton Pond, Quebec.
Ranger, making only his second series start this season, was relegated to start at the tail-end of the field after qualifying was cancelled due to an afternoon rain shower and the field was set based on points. He quickly mounted a charge, however, and worked his way forward in his No. 53 Waste Management Bagster Dodge.
Meanwhile, Greg Pursley and his Gene Price Motorsports teammate, Cameron Hayley, dominated a majority of the race – with Hayley leading a race-high 19 laps and Pursley out front for 16 laps.
Hayley initially took the lead when Derek Thorn, who had started on the pole, began to fade with drive line trouble. Pursley then assumed the point when Hayley stopped for fuel on Lap 21. From there, he built a huge lead of more than nine seconds in a race that went green for the first 34 laps of what was scheduled for 50 circuits. That margin evaporated with a caution on Lap 35 and a few laps later the lead was handed back to Hayley as Pursley made a pit stop on the restart with a tire going flat.
Hayley was out front as the laps wound down, but his hopes of a win ended with a spin after contact with Ranger on Lap 47. Ranger took the lead from there and then had to hold on in a green-white-checkered finish, winning by a margin of 1.632 seconds.
“We had a different strategy,” Ranger said. “We pitted a little too early. We came in the pits a second time to put fuel in. We were like seventh at that point, pushing really hard.”
Ranger, a two-time champion in the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series presented by Mobil 1, expressed regret after the event for the late-race incident with Hayley.
“With three to go, I had contact with the 24 car,” he said. “It surprised me a lot. That’s why I turned left really quick. I hit him a little bit. I spun him. I’m very, very sorry about it.”
Pursley, who was shooting for his fourth consecutive win at MMP, battled back from seventh in the closing stages to challenge for the lead on the final restart before taking the runner-up spot.
“Once again, the Gene Price Motorsports Ford was an awesome car, but we got a flat, again,” Pursley said. “The guys did an awesome pit stop. We came in and changed the tire and got us back out there and thank goodness we got a yellow.”
It became a bit of a scramble on the final restart, from Pursley’s view.
“Andrew did a good job of squeezing us over there and got us in the dirt a little bit and it popped out of gear and got it back in gear,” he said. “We got it back to second place, but just didn’t have enough.”
Series rookie Dylan Lupton finished third, followed by Michael Self and Matt Tift. Cameron Hayley, Daryl Harr, Austin Cameron, Derek Thorn and Carl Harr completed the top 10.
Hayley was able to trim Thorn’s lead in the championship standings to 19 points (467 to 448), with four races left to decide the title. Pursley moved to third in points with 443, one marker ahead of Self – while Lupton continues to hold the fifth spot with 403. Taylor Cuzick is sixth at 360, followed by Carl Harr at 357, Daryl Harr 345, Giles Thornton at 334 and Dylan Hutchison 326.
The NASCAR K&N Pro Series West next travels to NAPA Speedway in Albuquerque N.M., on Sept. 28 for the NAPA Auto Parts 150 presented by NAPA AutoCare Centers.
Andrew Ranger earned his second career K&N Pro Series West win on Saturday in the iON Camera Utah Grand Prix, holding off Greg Pursley in a green-white-checkered finish. George Frey/Getty Images for NASCAR