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Andrew Ranger Claims Third Series Title, Brett Taylor Scores Dramatic Maiden Win

It’s been near impossible to separate Andrew Ranger and Kevin Lacroix throughout the 2019 season.

The two drivers have traded the points lead since the season opened at CTMP in May, and entered the season finale at Jukasa Motor Speedway as the only two drivers in contention for the championship.

It was only fitting the trend continued as Ranger edged Lacroix by one position to earn his third NASCAR Pinty’s Series championship.

It was a celebration ten years in the making.

Ranger, who won the inaugural Pinty’s Series championship in 2007 at the ripe age of 20, followed that two years later with a second championship. He’s remained a dominant driver – he is the series all-time leader in wins with 28 – but has repeatedly suffered heartbreak chasing his third title.

Following four wins and a nearly perfect 2019 season, a fourth-place finish was all Ranger needed to finally return to the pinnacle of the sport.

“It’s a dream and I’m so happy for my crew,” Ranger said. “Everybody here works so hard and it’s fantastic to win our third championship. I knew that we were really fast, we knew we had to finish in front of him, and we did just that and won the championship.”

Despite leading the most laps, Kevin Lacroix would once again fall short of his maiden championship. He finished the season with two wins, but the bad luck struck again.

Lacroix started the race on the provisional pole after qualifying was rained out, and dominated the first half of the race, locking up bonus points for the most laps led. But following the halfway break, he began to fade.

“We had a fast car today,” Lacroix said. “We went for the win, so we tried an adjustment but it didn’t work out. We are just very thankful for the great season that we had.”

As Lacroix fell back, it was the pair of EHR Team Orange drivers who saw their cars jump to life. Brett Taylor and Jason Hathaway battled for the last quarter of the race, treating fans to one of the most high-intensity battles of the season. As the laps wore down, Taylor tried everything he could to get around his teammate: he did just that in the most dramatic way possible.

On the final lap, in the final corner, Taylor made his move. Putting the bumper to Hathaway, the Calgary, Alberta driver lead only one lap all evening: the most important one. Scoring his first career Pinty’s Series win, Taylor would make history in the process.

“[Jason] gave me enough room on the bottom to race him clean,” Taylor said. “I was super loose and every time I got to his door I had to back off cause I didn’t want to blow a tire.

“In the end, all I had to do was give him a little bit of a bump,” Taylor added.

With the victory, Taylor becomes the first Western Canadian driver to win in the Pinty’s Series –158 of the first 159 races were won by drivers from Ontario and Quebec, with Donald Chisholm (Nova Scotia) the previous outlier.

Hathaway would come home second, just over a tenth of a second behind Taylor. Donald Theetge finished third in his final start as a full-time driver.

Ranger and Lacroix completed the top five.  Pete Shepherd III finished sixth after having to start at the rear, with Alex Guenette, who was subbing for Alex Tagliani coming home in seventh.

D.J Kennington, Mathieu Kingsbury and LP Dumoulin would complete the top ten.

The Pinty’s Fall Brawl will air on TSN on Sunday, Oct. 6 at 12:30 p.m. and on RDS2 on Sunday, Oct. 20 at 12:30 p.m.

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Brett Taylor Hopeful for Strong Performances with Team Change

TORONTO, Ontario — Looking to improve his performances, Brett Taylor made the move this past week to Ed Hakonson Racing as a teammate to Jason Hathaway.

“We wanted to go down a different path,” he told POPULAR SPEED. “Jason Hathaway (and Ed Hakonson Racing) are an awesome team. They have a great group of guys. Hathaway is a championship driver. With his experience, I was hoping that he would help mentor me and he’s willing to take me under his wing, I look forward to learning from him.”

The new addition to EHR brings uncharted waters for Jason Hathaway, as he has ran most of his career without a teammate.

“Don Thomson was my teammate once back in 2011; he’s the only teammate that I’ve really had,” Hathaway said. “Brett is a good guy. He’ll listen, take your advice –he even listens to the guys. A few times this weekend he even said to me, ‘I’ve never had anybody tell me that before.’ He’s eager to learn, and I think he respects our team and the way we ran for a lot of years, so it’s a good partnership.”

In just a season and a half of competition, Taylor has left his mark on the NASCAR Pinty’s Series. He won the 2018 Jostens Rookie of the Year Award following four top-10’s in the 12 races, with a best finish of eighth. Thus far this season entering Toronto, he had only scored one top-10 in the first three events.

Now joined up with EHR, the goal is simple – to step up performance moving forward.

“We are going to get on the podium this year – we have to,” Taylor stated. “That’s what my eyes are set for.”

His first race with EHR did not go as well as hoped, with brake issues in the early laps taking him out of contention. However, it hasn’t dampered any spirits in knowing the box they were painted in entering the weekend.

“We came not too prepared because the transition to this team was last minute,” Taylor admitted. “The boys had never saw the car before.”

EMAIL ASHLEY AT ashley.mccubbin@popularspeed.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER:@ladybug388

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

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ASHLEY ASKS…… Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor was able to put together a solid first season in the NASCAR Pinty’s Series, taking home the Josten’s Rookie of the Year Award. The Alberta native recently shared his renewed outlook entering 2019 as his team Canada’s Best Racing Team partners with Wright Motorsport Inc.

POPULAR SPEED: What are your thoughts entering the season?

BRETT TAYLOR: Overall, I think our approach to the season is a lot more calculated and I think we’re a lot more prepared on many fronts. But specifically we built two brand new cars, we’ve merged with Wright Motorsport Inc (WMI), and built a new team from a personnel perspective as well. We have a new engine builder – we feel we’re coming into the season with the tools to win, so pretty pumped.

PS: So with having put the new partnership together, what are your goals and expectations?

BRETT: Well, you know, I think with anything if you surround yourself with better and more talented people, it’ll force you or encourage you to raise the bar yourself, so I think that’s one of the most positive things I’m looking for in being with this team. WMI’s collaboration with DJK (Racing) with D.J. Kennington and Andrew Ranger, and all the experience and the knowledge that they’ve shared with David Wright apart of will reduce our learning curve. So we should be out of the box faster.

PS: Looking back on last season, what do you feel you could’ve done better to make the year even more successful?

BRETT: You could probably ask any driver, and they’re going to blame something else. Last year, our goal was to win Rookie of the Year first and foremost, and we achieved that. So overall, the year was a success. In addition to winning Rookie of the Year, the goal was to try and finish every lap and not wreck a car, and just get out there and dice it up and be in the mix and get the valuable seat time, and I feel like we achieved that as well.

In saying that, there are a lot of disappointments with our equipment. I think I underestimated the value of being prepared, and the value of a strong team, and the value of a strong engineer along with the car itself. I think we could’ve done better than what we did given if we would’ve been in better equipment, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that we entered last season knowing we didn’t have a big budget, so we weren’t expecting the world. I quickly realized the disadvantages of not being in top equipment.

PS: Road courses or ovals – what’s your preference?

BRETT: Honestly, they’re so different. I feel there’s such a difference between road courses and ovals, it’s almost like which do you prefer – football or soccer? I look at them that way. I would probably say road courses.

PS: What track are you most looking forward to?

BRETT: I am looking forward to getting back to CTMP, because I have a bone to pick with that course. Last season, we definitely weren’t where we needed to be so I’m excited to get out there and be a contender because last year, the last two races, the first race we had brake issues, and the second race we had gear issues. So we really didn’t even accomplish close to what we could’ve, so looking forward to getting back there.

PS: What are your thoughts on the current state of the series?

BRETT: I think it’s evident Pinty’s and NASCAR have been putting a lot of effort into driver awareness. I’m really happy with how much they’re trying to get people to learn about who we are; the commercials are a lot more focused on us as drivers, and I think it’s bringing a lot more awareness to our sport. You also see a lot more commercials during the American races in Canada anyway, so I think it’s growing, which is great to be apart of something that you see a great future with.

PS: We’ve been drivers trying different series and cars. Is there anything on your bucket list?

BRETT: The future plan is to do a Daytona start. At what level, I don’t know yet. It’d be amazing to do Cup, but I know that’s far out there. A more real start would be ARCA or truck for me.

EMAIL ASHLEY AT ashley.mccubbin@popularspeed.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER: @ladybug388

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.