Crash.Net NASCAR News
Nationwide: Villeneuve wins Montreal pole
19 August 2011
Jacques Villeneuve claimed his first Nationwide Series pole position, for Saturday's NAPA Auto Parts 200 race on home ground in Montreal at the F1 road course named after his legendary father.
Villeneuve is driving the #22 car that won last week at Watkins Glen in the hands of Kurt Busch on top of two previous victories for regular driver Brad Keselowski, and Villeneuve said it made all the difference.
"We knew we had prepared the car and we'd be up there fighting," he said, adding that it meant he could "just relax and concentrate on driving the car well instead of finding gremlins in the car or trying to invent a new setup overnight."
Villeneuve completed his qualifying lap of the 2.71-mile, 14-turn Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in 101.8s, 0.135s ahead of his fellow Canadian - and Penske team mate for the weekend - Alex Tagliani, who had had looked set to claim pole position despite the IndyCar regular driver appearing in his first Nationwide Series race for two years.
Tagliani - who held pole for this year's Indianapolis 500 open-wheel race - was the first to admit that local knowledge of his home circuit is of little help when he has almost no experience of stock cars at this level.
"When you have an open-wheel guy in NASCAR, the biggest thing is overdriving the car. Your mind tells you, 'You should be braking there,' but the car won't take it. Your brain tells you, 'The car should be turning at that speed,' but the tires won't take it. It's always convincing yourself with every corner, you need to push the car to its limits but not the ones you know."
The second row will consist of the highest-placed Nationwide Series regular Jason Leffler who will start alongside another former F1 driver, Scott Speed.
Leffler's team mate for the weekend, road course 'ringer' Boris Said, qualified in 12th place in his second consecutive weekend of NASCAR racing, after his dramatic falling out with Greg Biffle following the Watkins Glen race last Monday.
Patrick Carpentier, in what he has announced will be his final professional motor racing outing, will start from eighth position on the grid for Pastrana-Waltrip Racing, while Danica Patrick lines up in 25th place in her return to the GoDaddy.com #7 car. Even though she's not the greatest fan of road races, her experience on the street and road tracks in IndyCar should prove a help to her on this F1 track.
Australian Owen Kelly impressed by qualifying in ninth place in the #009, but he will not be taking part in Saturday afternoon's race as he is keeping the seat warm for Marcos Ambrose, who will be flying up from Michigan with Carl Edwards - assuming Edwards' passport turns up in time after he forgot to pack it before his flight from Missouri to Michigan.
"It's going to be really tight," said Ambrose, explaining that they are scheduled to get to the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve just 20 minutes before the race starts. Ambrose will still have to start at the back alongside Edwards if he does make it into the car in time.
Jean Francois Dumoulin, Tim George Jr., Tomy Drissi, Brett Rowe and Chase Miller failed to make the 43-car grid, but Maryeve Dufault will become the first Canadian female driver to make a NASCAR Nationwide Series race start in the pre-qualified #81 in 39th place on the grid.
Full qualifying times and positions