NASCAR Nationwide Series at Montreal Wrapup

Since 2007, Montreal’s Circuit Gilles Villeneuve has played host to the only Canadian stop for NASCAR’s three national touring series. This year’s NASCAR Nationwide Series race featured the usual hodgepodge of established stars, up-and-comers and road course ringers. Of course, Canada was well-represented with the likes of 1997 Formula One World Drivers’ Champion Jacques Villeneuve, Alex Tagliani, Ron Fellows, Patrick Carpentier and Andrew Ranger leading a Canadian contingent of 10 drivers.

So who took the checkered flag? We have a race recap, analysis, results and driver comments after the jump.

NASCAR.com Live Blog

Pre-race — Alex Tagliani is on the pole for Saturday’s Nationwide Series event at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal, Canada. Sam Hornish Jr., Jacques Villeneuve, Danica Patrick and Owen Kelley (who will turn the car over to Kyle Busch) qualified second through fifth. Miichael McDowell, Cole Whitt, Ron Fellows, Billy Johnson and Brian Scott round out the top 10. Ryan Ellis was the only driver who failed to qualify for the event.
[Tagliani’s pole time was 100.865 seconds. In June, the Formula One pole winner was Sebastian Vettel who timed in with a 73.784 of about 27 seconds faster. In other words, Vettel would win a three lap race between the two pole sitters by almost a whole lap. Yet, the Nationwide Series race is four laps longer than the F1 Grand Prix. Go figure.]

2:14 p.m. — Interesting fact from ESPN. Ron Fellows is the only Canadian to win a Nationwide Series event here in Montreal, and he’s the only previous winner in the field for this year’s race.

2:30 p.m. — After the presentation of colors by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Monsignor Andre Desroches gives the invocation.

2:32 p.m. — Marilou is singing the American national anthem.

2:33 p.m. — Marilou continues on the stage, this time to sing the Canadian national anthem in both French and English.

2:34 p.m. — Two CF-18s from the Canadian Royal Air Force do the fly-over.

2:40 p.m. — Robert Hattem, president and chief operating officer of UAP, gives the command to fire engines. It’s also in both French and English!

2:45 p.m. — The field is beginning to roll off pit road. We’re going racing!

2:52 p.m. — Eight cars are going to the rear for various reasons. Kyle Busch is among them.

Lap 1 — GREEN FLAG: The race gets under way at 2:54 p.m. ET. Alex Tagliani is clear for the lead, and Jacques Villeneuve has been able to get away from Danica Patrick … a lot was made of their run-in during the pre-race show on ESPN.

Lap 2 — Elliott Sadler is on pit road to top off his fuel supply. The strategy is apparently to give him enough gas to make this just a two-stop race.

Lap 3 — Sam Hornish Jr. takes the lead from Alex Tagliani. Danica Patrick takes over fourth from Cole Whitt.
[Tag let Hornish by at the Turn 3/4 chicane. Not so much took the lead as assumed the lead.]

Lap 4 — It’s a three-car breakaway at the front of the field for leader Sam Hornish Jr., Alex Tagliani and Jacques Villeneuve. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Austin Dillon are pitting.

Lap 5 — Patrick Carpentier has gone straight through a chicane, so he’ll have to stop. Kyle Busch is also on pit road.

Lap 6 — Alex Tagliani has retaken the lead from Sam Hornish Jr. in Turn 10. There’s a bit of damage on the nose of Tagliani’s car after he made contact with the rear of Hornish’s car.
[Turn 10 is what NASCAR calls the Casino Hairpin. I hope NASCAR doesn’t look at the signs on the backstretch or they’d see ads for a gambling website.]

Lap 7 — Alex Tagliani gives up the lead to pit. The lead goes to Sam Hornish Jr. Justin Allgaier is also getting fuel.

Lap 8 — Jacques Villeneuve grabs the lead from Sam Hornish Jr., to the approval of the partisan hometown crowd. Andrew Ranger, who was running in ninth place, is pitting.

Lap 9 — Billy Johnson, driving the No. 60 Roush Fenway Racing Ford, is running in fourth place.

Lap 10 — Brad Sweet has gone off the course, but he’s able to continue. After taking the point from Sam Hornish Jr., Jacques Villeneuve has been able to break away by several car lengths.

Lap 11 — Danica Patrick dives past Sam Hornish Jr. for second place. Patrick Carpentier is pitting. He’s having some brake issues.

Lap 12 — Jacques Villeneuve leads second-place Danica Patrick by 4.7 seconds. Patrick Carpentier is still on pit road.

Lap 13 — Ron Fellows is within a car length or two of Billy Johnson for fourth place.

Lap 14 — Sam Hornish Jr. is in third place. He’s also in contention for the Nationwide Series championship. His crew tells him to “go into a mode.”

Lap 15 — Jacques Villeneuve continues to build on his advantage over Danica Patrick. The gap between them is now up to 5.2 seconds.

Lap 16 — Expect Jacques Villeneuve, Danica Patrick and the rest of those who haven’t yet stopped to be pitting in the next three or four laps.

Lap 17 — Ron Fellows is finally able to get around Billy Johnson for fourth place.

Lap 18 — Just after he takes fourth place, Ron Fellows hits pit road.

Lap 19 — YELLOW FLAG NO. 1: Just after Danica Patrick pits, Dexter Stacy spins. As he backs up, leader Jacques Villeneuve narrowly avoids hitting Stacy.
[Just before this, I tweeted asking when NASCAR would find “debris” on track. Instead they called a full-course yellow the instant Stacy started spinning. Ever hear of a local yellow, boys?]

Lap 20 — With several teams having already pitting, it’s going to be interesting to see what this does to Jacques Villeneuve’s day.

Lap 21 — Jacques Villeneuve, Sam Hornish Jr., Billy Johnson, Brendan Gaughan and Brian Scott had not pitted yet, so they’re stopping now. Danica Parick will inherit the lead.

Lap 22 — Danica Patrick, Nationwide Series race winner … it’s way too early to even be thinking it, right?
[This sort of shit makes me want to put a gun in my mouth. Don’t insult my intelligence with this cheerleading bullshit.]

Lap 23 — GREEN FLAG: Danica Patrick, Ron Fellows, Justin Allgaier, Cole Whitt and Elliott Sadler lead the field to the restart. Jacques Villeneuve rolls off 12th after pitting during the caution. Cole Whitt goes through the grass, but keeps going.

Lap 24 — YELLOW FLAG: Timmy Hill has gone off the course, and he’s stopped.
[He parked it on the inside of the right-hander of the Turn 5/6 chicane. If he went through the chicane, he would have found a marshal’s station at the exit where they could have pulled his car off-track to keep the race green. Mind you, I bet NASCAR doesn’t tell anyone where the cut-outs in the track are for just this reason.]

Lap 25 — This is the first race Danica Patrick has led since Daytona.

Lap 26 — Elliott Sadler, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Alex Tagliani and several others are pitting.

Lap 27 — GREEN FLAG: Danica Patrick, Ron Fellows, Justin Allgiaer, Kyle Busch and Andrew Ranger are the leaders when chief starter Kevin Moss shows the green again. Jacques Villeneuve is up to sixth place. Busch goes all the way to second place just after the restart. He’s right on Patrick’s bumper. Villeneuve takes fourth from Allgaier.

Lap 28 — Danica Patrick has a lead of less than a car length over Kyle Busch. Can he really not make a move yet, or is he just biding his time looking for an opening? Sam Hornish Jr. blows past Justin Allgaier for fifth place.

Lap 29 — Kyle Busch has lost a little more ground to Danica Patrick in their race for the lead.

Lap 30 — Kyle Busch and Justin Allgaier are pitting. Cole Whitt has also stopped. Allgaier will have to serve a penalty for speeding while exiting the pits.

Lap 31 — After Kyle Busch made his stop, Ron Fellows is now running second and Jacques Villeneuve third.

Lap 32 — The top five is now Danica Patrick, Ron Fellows, Jacques Villeneuve, Sam Hornish Jr. and Michael McDowell.

Lap 33 — The top three are running bumper to bumper right now. Jacques Villeneuve gets by Ron Fellows for second place as the lap comes to an end.

Lap 33 — YELLOW FLAG NO. 2: Dexter Stacy strikes again! He’s popped the wall … twice.
[This time he cut a left-hand dogleg out of T4 which either flattened the left-front tire or folded the front valence under the left-front. Either way, he was a passenger at that point.]

Lap 34 — It looks like most of the leaders will stay on the track during this caution, although Ron Fellows does drop out of second place to make a stop.

Lap 35 — The 15 laps Danica Patrick are a career high for her in NASCAR competiton.
[Of those 15 laps, about seven were completely under caution. Add in the two laps where she couldn’t be passed because there’s no racing back to the yellow, nine of her 15 laps led to that point were under yellow which is 60%. Context means a lot.]

Lap 36 — The lights are still on atop the pace car, so it’s going to be at least another lap before the restart.
[They had trouble loading Stacy’s car onto the hauler. The F1 marshal’s are much better with the crane than the NASCAR crew with the flatbed.]

Lap 37 — The race has reached the halfway point.

Lap 38 — GREEN FLAG: Danica Patrick, Jacques Villeneuve, Sam Hornish Jr., Michael McDowell and Billy Johnson are the leaders on the restart. Patrick clears for the lead just past the start-finish line.

Lap 39 — Brian Scott spins in the first turns, but gets going again without causing another caution.
[Because Danica was on the point, I’m sure.]

Lap 40 — Just before the restart, an idiot onlloker [sic] throws a shoe on the track. Leader Danica Patrick hit it, and now she feels that a wheel might be coming off.
[The weird thing was that it was in a spot away from grandstands. It looked to be about halfway the straight from Turn 7/8 chicane to the Casino Hairpin but TV never said where. Still, it was just a running shoe. How much damage can that actually do? Of course, if JV ran over the tire, NASCAR.com would have said “a fan.”]

Lap 41 — Danica Patrick is still very concerned with her car. She feels the problem may be the steering. Jacques Villeneuve tries getting under her for the lead, but has to back off before finally getting the spot in the last turn.
[I kinda think that Danica was panicking half because of running over the shoe and half because of that #22 car in her rear-view mirror which got her thinking too much about every little hiccup in the car she didn’t like and blow it out of proportion. To put it another way, the problem was all in her head.]

Lap 42 — Alex Tagliani takes third place from Billy Johnson, and he tries going after Danica Patrick for second.

Lap 43 — There had been discussion of bringing Danica Patrick this lap, but she stayed on the track. Crew chief Tony Eury Jr. has left it up to her as to whether or not she’ll continue without stopping.

Lap 44 — Jacques Villeneuve leads Danica Patrick by 2.7 seconds. In-car video shows her fighting the steering wheel going through the turns.

Lap 45 — The top five is now Jacques Villeneuve, Danica Patrick, Alex Tagliani, Billy Johnson and Sam Hornish Jr.

Lap 46 — YELLOW FLAG NO. 4: There’s debris on the track.. A video replay on ESPN shows something falling off Danica Patrick’s Chevrolet. Analyst Ricky Craven thinks it might be the cover off where the ballast is held in the car.
[I still think it’s the bracket that held her nerve.]

Lap 47 — Danica Patrick is complaining that she feels something moving back and forth underneath the car.

Lap 48 — The leaders are on pit road. The concern now is that the track bar on Danica Patrick’s car has been damaged.

Lap 49 — Danica Patrick is back on pit road. The left side of the car goes on jack stands while a crew member attempts to weld the track bar back in place.

Lap 49 — GREEN FLAG: Elliott Sadler, Andrew Ranger, Justin Allgaier, Mike Wallace and Kyle Kelley are the leaders. Danica Patrick comes back on pit road as the race goes back to green. Ranger makes contact with Sadler in the first corner.

Lap 50 — Kyle Kelley gets way loose in the first corners, and very nearly collects oncoming cars.

Lap 51 — Andrew Ranger is on pit road. Jacques Villeneuve takes second place from Justin Allgaier.

Lap 52 — Jacques Villeneuve is about a second behind leader Elliott Sadler.

Lap 53 — Leader Elliott Sadler drops onto pit road for what should be his last stop of the day. Ron Fellows is also stopping.

Lap 54 — Elliott Sadler’s pit stop moved Jacques Villeneuve into the lead, with Kyle Busch having moved past Justin Allgaier for second place. There are 20 laps to go. Justin Allgaier is pitting.

Lap 55 — Danica Patrick is weaving her car back and forth. She says it has no drive. JR Motorsports teammate Cole Whitt has gone to the garage with a dropped cylinder. Patrick also goes to the garage.
[Okay, maybe the car problems weren’t all in her head. Still, that shoe must have been made out of lead.]

Lap 56 — Sam Hornish Jr. has closed on Kyle Busch for second place. He takes the spot going into the first turn.

Lap 57 — Jacques Villeneuve leads second-place Sam Hornish Jr. by about two seconds. Andrew Ranger’s car has also developed some sort of mechanical issue.
[Mechanical issue? His track bar broke and his rear wheels were trying to escape from underneath the car.]

Lap 58 — Kyle Busch has pitted.

Lap 59 — YELLOW FLAG NO. 5: Jason Bowles spins into a gravel trap. What’s Jacques Villeneuve going to do?

Lap 60 — Cool video of boats circling the area near the race track.
[Did I mention this is the NASCAR.com official live blog coverage of the race? Try, I don’t know, covering the race.]

Lap 61 — Jacques Villeneuve is shutting his car off under the caution, trying to conserve fuel. Danica Patrick is back on the track.

Lap 62 — The leaders are staying on the track. At this stage of the game, track position is just too important.

Lap 63 — GREEN FLAG: Jacques Villeneuve, Sam Hornish Jr., Alex Tagliani, Michael McDowell and Brendan Gaughan lead the field to the restart. Tagliani hammers Villeneuve in the first turn to take the lead. McDowell and Hornish crash, but there’s no caution.

Lap 64 — Danica Patrick, Sam Hornish Jr. and Mike Wallace crash after Patrick gets together with Kyle Kelley. Again, there’s no caution.

Lap 65 — Ron Fellows loops his car after contact with Kyle Busch. No yellow.

Lap 66 — Jacques Villeneuve flat-out punts Alex Tagliani to move back into the top spot.
[So NASCAR.com doesn’t care if Tag punts JV but if Villeneuve does it to Tagliani, it’s the worst thing to happen in the history of motorsport. At least, Villeneuve was kind enough to spin Tag a full 360 so he could quickly get going again.]

Lap 67 — Jacques Villeneuve may be the leader, but will he be able to make it the rest of the way without stopping?
[Not is NASCAR officials have anything to say about it.]

Lap 70 — YELLOW FLAG NO. 6: The caution is out after Mike Wallace spins.

Lap 71 — The excitement isn’t over. Jacques Villeneuve is nursing his car way too much to make it the rest of the way.

Lap 73 — GREEN FLAG: Jacques Villeneuve, Billy Johnson, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Brendan Gaughan and Kyle Busch are the leaders on the restart. Gaughan, Alex Tagliani, Mike Bliss and others spin in an ugly first-turn scramble.

Lap 73 — YELLOW FLAG NO. 7: Jeremy Clements has also crashed in the multicar pileup. Kyle Busch also has a flat tire.

Lap 74 — The race will end under the fourth overtime finish in six trips to Montreal. Jacques Villeneuve is turning his engine off for lengthy stretches.

Lap 75 — NASCAR has called off the restart. No way Jacques Villeneuve can make it. No. way. Right? Austin Dillon pits just before the restart.
[Like I said, Jacques won’t win if NASCAR has anything to say about it.]

Lap 76 — GREEN FLAG: Jacques Villeneuve, Billy Johnson, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Brian Scott and Elliott Sadler are the leaders. Villeneuve gets a huge jump just ahead of a relatively clean first turn. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. spins trying to catch Villeneuve. No caution.
[I bet dim-witted Danica/anti-talent NASCAR fans think that JV spun Stenhouse using only his rear bumper. When you let ESPN dictate the perception of Villeneuve because he bumped their big money draw {Danica} at Road America, people start believing dumb shit like JV is out of control. Fact: He’s the only Formula One World Drivers’ Champion in NASCAR. He won despite Michael Schumacher trying to ram him off the road. Now argue that he’s a dirty, talentless hack with facts.]

Lap 76 — YELLOW FLAG: Derek White and Alex Kennedy have spun. White looped his car after Kyle Busch pushed him through the corner.

Lap 79 — Billy Johnson was second, but now he has to come down pit road for fuel. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. is also pitting.

Lap 80 — GREEN FLAG: Jacques Villeneuve, Elliott Sadler, Justin Allgaier, Brian Scott and Sam Hornish Jr. are the leaders on the restart. Ain’t no way Villeneuve will be able to make it the rest of the way, no way, no how. Villeneuve shoots clears in Turn 1. Allgaier takes second from Sadler. Hornish also gets position on Sadler.
[Not that NASCAR was trying to run Villeneuve out of fuel but the pace car took the cars off the circuit, onto the bridge connecting Île Notre-Dame to Montreal, through downtown and back onto the circuit during the caution.]

Lap 81 — CHECKERED FLAG: Justin Allgaier is hard on Jacques Villeneuve’s rear bumper when Villeneuve appears to out of gas. Allgaier is the leader, with Sam Hornish Jr. taking over second place. Villeneuve is back up to speed in third place, but it’s too little too late. The win goes to Allgaier, his first of the season and third of his career.
[Well, there was nothing Villeneuve could do about having the race extended seven laps. If NASCAR hadn’t inexplicably called off the restart on Lap 75 and stretched the race another lap, Villeneuve very well could have made it to the checkers without sputtering. I don’t like the GWC rule because it’s so damn artificial {I don’t like DRS for that matter} but the rules are the rules and you have to live with them.]

Driver Reactions

Race Results

  1. #31 Justin Allgaier
  2. #12 Sam Hornish Jr.
  3. #22 Jacques Villeneuve
  4. #2 Elliott Sadler
  5. #5 Ron Fellows
  6. #18 Michael McDowell
  7. #01 Mike Wallace
  8. #60 Billy Johnson
  9. # 3 Austin Dillon
  10. #54 Kyle Busch
  11. #33 Brendan Gaughan
  12. #6 Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
  13. #44 Mike Bliss
  14. #19 Tayler Malsam
  15. #87 Alex Kennedy
  16. #40 Erik Darnell
  17. #39 Tim Andrews
  18. #24 Derek White
  19. #14 Eric McLure
  20. #38 Brad Sweet
  21. #59 Kyle Kelley
  22. #30 Alex Tagliani
  23. #4 Daryl Harr
  24. #11 Brian Scott
  25. #51 Jeremy Clements
  26. #81 Jason Bowles (-4 laps)
  27. #7 Danica Patrick (-6 laps)
  28. #43 Michael Annett (-8 laps)
  29. #99 Patrick Carpentier (-12 laps)
  30. #70 Joe Nemechek (-19 laps, DNF)
  31. #26 John Young (-22 laps, DNF)
  32. #27 Andrew Ranger (-24 laps, DNF)
  33. #88 Cole Whitt (-27 laps, DNF)
  34. #75 Kenny Habul (-35 laps, DNF)
  35. #23 Dexter Stacy (-51 laps)
  36. #41 Timmy Hill (-60 laps)
  37. #53 Eric Curran (-66 laps, DNF)
  38. #08 Louis-Philippe Dumoulin (-67 laps, DNF)
  39. #15 Chris Cook (-75 laps, DNF)
  40. #47 Matt DiBenedetto (-75 laps, DNF)
  41. #42 Blake Koch (-76 laps, DNF)
  42. #46 Chase Miller (-77 laps, DNF)
  43. #10 Jeff Green (-79 laps, DNF)

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