MONTREAL - The top two finishers at last year's NAPA Auto Parts 200 didn't even make it halfway through the race this time around.
Defending champion Ron Fellows of Toronto and last year's runner-up Patrick Carpentier of Joliette, Que., were both knocked out early Sunday at the NASCAR Nationwide Series event at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.
"This is my Daytona 500 for the Nationwide Series, so this is hard to take," Fellows said. "Worse than that, this car is wrecked."
Carpentier was making a charge from his starting position of 40th and was running in fourth place on the 16th lap when he missed a downshift coming out of the hairpin, causing the engine to rev too high and blow.
"It's the first time I've made a mistake like this, so it's too bad it happened in Montreal," said Carpentier, who finished second here two years straight. "It was going so well, we were passing two or three cars on every turn. We were moving up so quickly, that's what makes it that much more disappointing."
Carpentier was driving a Michael Waltrip-owned NAPA Toyota and, despite his poor qualifying position, he believed the car had enough to get him on the top step of the podium.
"I was still saving the brakes and saving the car, I wasn't spinning the wheels anywhere and we had really good traction," Carpentier said. "That's why I thought we were going to win. It's too bad to come off on a mistake like that, but we did it today."
If Carpentier was disappointed in himself, Fellows was more annoyed at being a victim of circumstance.
Fellows was working his way back into the race after being forced to pit on the race's third lap to fix a broken front splitter under the bumper, sending him to the back of the pack.
By the 26th lap, Fellows was back in a top-10 position when he was hit by Justin Allgaier, crumpling the entire right-hand side of his Rick Hendrick-owned Fastenal Chevrolet, which Fellows was driving in place of Dale Earnhardt Jr.
"I got hit so hard I banged my head pretty good," Fellows said. "It was crazy."
Fellows couldn't understand why Allgaier was being so aggressive so early in the race, calling it a "bonehead move."