Quebec drivers give fans lots to cheer about at NASCAR Nationwide race

The Canadian Press ~ The News
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MONTREAL - Quebecers Andrew Ranger, Jacques Villeneuve and Jean-Francois Dumontier gave the fans what they wanted to see by taking up three of the top seven spots in Sunday's NAPA Auto Parts 200 at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.
Villeneuve, racing at the track named for his father, quickly got the idea that the caution-filled NASCAR Nationwide series event was not as much about racing as it was keeping your car in one piece.
"The key was just to survive because we were banging into each other all over the place," said the native of Iberville, Que. "Every corner, because of the double-file re-start, it was madness. You just have to go for it and hope you're not the one that gets caught out."
Ranger of Roxton Pond, Que., finished third after competing for the lead all afternoon, while Villeneuve was fourth and Dumontier of Trois-Rivieres, Que., finished a surprising seventh.
Dumontier crossed the finish line with smoke billowing out of his car after having trouble with his brakes the whole race, but he says he never lost hope that he would get to the finish.
"It was indescribable what I went through at the end," he said. "I learned a ton and I adored my experience. I was hoping for a top-10, so finally I got more than I hoped for."
But it was not a perfect day for Canadians as the five others in Sunday's field left the track disappointed.
Perhaps none more so than Alex Tagliani of nearby Lachenaie, Que., who was running in seventh on the final re-start of the race with one lap to go, but got caught up in a heap of cars on the second turn and wound up being the last car to cross the line in 26th.
"We passed 35 cars all day, we went from the back of the pack to the front about three times without a scratch," said Tagliani. "I don't understand how we can do 73 laps without a scratch, then all of a sudden, on one re-start everything gets totally destroyed."
J.R. Fitzpatrick of Cambridge, Ont., began the day with a victory in the NASCAR Canadian Tire series race, but in the main event he had his car break down on lap 69. Fitzpatrick, 21, was able to get back on the track and came within a lap of finishing the race, finally placing 27th.
D.J. Kennigton of St-Thomas, Ont., got into an accident with Steve Wallace on the 58th lap that ended his frustrating day, which began by him getting bounced from the podium and into fourth when Ranger spun him near the end of the Canadian Tire series race.
Both defending champ Ron Fellows of Toronto and last year's runner-up Patrick Carpentier of Joliette, Que., failed to reach the halfway point of Sunday's race.
"This is my Daytona 500 for the Nationwide Series, so this is hard to take," Fellows said. "Worse than that, this car is wrecked."

Organizations: NASCAR, NAPA Auto Parts 200, Canadian Tire Nationwide Series

Geographic location: Quebec, MONTREAL, Iberville, Que Roxton Pond Trois-Rivieres Lachenaie Cambridge Toronto Joliette

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