This weekend, the Nationwide Series stood alone, racing at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve north of the border in Montreal, Canada. Road racers, Nationwide regulars and up and coming rookies graced the track in a rare sunny Sunday in a race that went on and on but ended in a photo finish.
Here is what is surprising and not surprising from this weekend’s Nationwide race, affectionately known as the 24 hours of Montreal.
Surprising: In a race marred by seven yellows and one red flag, the race came down to fuel mileage, pit strategy, and just hard as nails road racing. And in a photo finish between road aces Boris Said and Max Papis, the ‘Said Heads’ rejoiced while their driver pumped his fist in victory lane, shouting “Finally, finally.”
Not Surprising: While both Said and Papis rejoiced in their one, two finish, Marcos Ambrose yet again was denied anything close to a victory. After leading the field to the green from the pole position, Ambrose looked strong, leading many laps. But alas, misfortune again bit the Aussie in his “Little Debbie” and he succumbed to battery and alternator problems, relegating him to a more than disappointing 33rd place finish.
Surprising: Jacques Villeneuve, bearing the moniker of the track named after his late father, was the sentimental favorite, as well as the crowd pleaser, with cheers abounding each and every time he rounded the course. Villeneuve did not disappoint, driving his heart out and coming in third at his home track.
Not Surprising: Robby Gordon had his own Marcos-Ambrose like moments at this weekend’s Nationwide event. Just as he experienced a few years ago when he thought he won, even doing his own burnout before NASCAR informed him otherwise, Gordon ran out of gas in the waning laps, coming in a heartbreaking 14th.
Surprising: Carl Edwards, winner of the previous race after taking it away from Ambrose in the last turn of the last lap at the same track, had his own set of troubles. His first issue occurred as he was trying to enter the track, where he was stopped by an overzealous security guard checking parking passes. After finally getting on the track, where he led and looked to be a contender, Edwards broke a rear track bar, taking him out of contention and pushing him back to the 20th finishing position.
Not Surprising: Cup and Nationwide regulars Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski, while not escaping some on-track escapades of their own, still managed to rally back. Logano, who had an early spin and Keselowski, who received a payback love tap from Brad Coleman, both had shaky starts to their races. Yet both recovered, with Keselowski finishing fourth and Logano finishing sixth, sandwiching Paul Menard between the two of them in the fifth spot.
Surprising: Justin Allgaier, known as ‘Little Gator’ but not necessarily known for his road course prowess, had a surprisingly strong run. Allgaier managed to stay out of the melee, bringing his car home for a top ten finish, leading his wife Ashley to tweet “P9…At a road course!!! That’s like a win for us!!!”
Not Surprising: On lap 19, the usually brash and aggressive son of Rusty Wallace decided to duke it out with road race ace Ron Fellows. Steve Wallace got the worse end of the deal, wrecking and trailing oil all over the track. After ripping off his helmet and giving Fellows the one-fingered salute, Wallace took his ailing machine behind the wall, finishing 38th.
Surprising: Jersey boy and K & N Pro Series West ace Paulie Harraka got his first Nationwide start, thanks to Joe Nemechek inviting him to take his second car to the dance. According to Harraka, the deal came together quickly, securing sponsor Exide on the car the week before the race.
Not Surprising: Unfortunately, both Joe Nemechek and his up and coming driver Harraka were both swept up in the same multi-car incident early in the race. While Nemechek was out of the race, Harraka was able to soldier on. The NEMCO Motorsports duo finished 28th and 29th respectively.
The top five finishers in the Nationwide NAPA Auto Parts 200 presented by Dodge were Boris Said, Max Papis, Jacques Villeneuve, Brad Keselowski and Paul Menard. Rounding out the top ten were Joey Logano, J.R. Fitzpatrick, Parker Kligerman, Justin Allgaier and Trevor Bayne.
The Nationwide Series will next race on Labor Day weekend, heading to the hot and fast track of Atlanta Motor Speedway. The Great Clips 300 will run under the lights on Saturday, September 4th with coverage starting at 6:30 PM on ESPN2.