NASCAR » 19 August 2012
Nationwide: Villeneuve denied home win
The on lap 66 Jacques Villeneuve had his chance to make a move on Tagliani for the lead after the #30 was just a little too slow out of a corner. Villeneuve got behind him and put his foot down, driving into the back of Tagliani and then accelerating some more so that the #30 spun out. It wasn't any way for the Canadian to make any friends in the NASCAR paddock, that's for sure.
A spin for Mike Wallace brought the field back under yellow again a few minutes later, setting up another restart on lap 73 with Villeneuve now lined up alongside Grand-AM's Billy Johnson. The second row featured current Nationwide champion Ricky Stenhouse Jr - no fan of road racing but doing surprisingly well here just a week after a top five finish at Watkins Glen - with Brendan Gaughan.
But it was from further back that Alex Tagliani tried to surge his way back to the front in order to have words with Villeneuve. He got passed the second row cars but in doing so sparked off shockwaves of cars bumping and colliding into one another in avoidance: it made for the messiest turns 1 and 2 of the entire race with just about everyone hitting something. Tagliani himself got tapped into a spin by Gaughan, while Jeremy Clements ended up against the barrier to trigger the seventh caution of the afternoon.
That put the race into green-white-chequered overtime, which was a disaster for those cars - including Villeneuve - who had been trying to stretch their fuel all the way from lap 46. But they were all-in now and no one was about to blink now if they could help it, even though the extended safety car periods that had once been their best friend were now their worst possible nightmare.
When the restart came on lap 76, Villeneuve drove it like he had a full tank of gas and jumped away form the pack. There were no messy heroics behind him going into turn 1 this time, with very few people now comfortable with facing a second GWC scenario this late in the day.
But that was what they got. First, Stenhouse Jr. undid all his excellent day's work by spinning into the barrier while trying to close up on Villeneuve for the lead; and elsewhere Derek White spun after getting a bump from Kyle Busch through a corner and Alex Kennedy was also off track as well. An eighth caution, and a second GWC finish attempt loomed.
Surely those early stoppers didn't have enough to carry on now? Villeneuve wouldn't budge from the lead, but second place Billy Johnson had no choice and nor did Austin Dillon. Villeneuve now faced the threat of Elliott Sadler, Justin Allgaier around him - and they'd all stopped later than he had. Brian Scott was the only other driver at the sharp end to try toughing it out, and his car ran dry before the end and dumped him all the way down to 24th place by the time the race finally ended.
Could Villeneuve somehow prove the exception to the rule and overcome the laws of engineering psychics? He certainly didn't look in any trouble as he shot clear in turn 1, with Allgaier and Hornish both following the leader through on the outside to get the better of Sadler for second and third places.
The home crowd held its breath: would Villeneuve's car run dry as Brian Scott's just had? Not on the first half of the two-lap GWC finale, and Villeneuve was still in charge of the race as they took the white flag. But Allgaier was pulling right up to the back of the #22 and looking for any sign of weakness. When it finally came, it appeared that Villeneuve really had finally run dry and was very slow into turn 6. Allgaier saw his moment and pounced.
But Villeneuve wasn't done, and he took the line into the apex as well. Two cars on the same spot of tarmac at the same time rarely works out well: Villeneuve was bumped wide, allowing both Allgaier and Hornish to get past him. Villeneuve was able to hold on to the spin and rejoin the race behind them, but had no time to catch up to the leading pair who duly claimed the chequered flag.
Tagged as: Sam Hornish Jr. , Elliott Sadler , Justin Allgaier , Michael McDowell , Ron Fellows , Patrick Carpentier , Alex Tagliani , Jacques Villeneuve , Danica Patrick , Montreal , Kyle Busch , Nationwide
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