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NASCAR Montreal and Chicago postscript

by Dave Grayson
Tuesday, August 31, 2010

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With the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series taking the weekend off, the Nationwide Series was provided a much deserved opportunity to take center stage over the previous weekend. What a stage it was. The Series ventured north of the border to stage an exciting event in Montreal-Canada on the famed Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. 77 circuits later around the 2.7 mile, 14 turn, road course a very popular winner stood in victory lane.

Meanwhile, here in the states, the "Rowdy" one set another NASCAR milestone and then got a reality check when he went to play in someone else's back yard.

Then there was the matter of animal control. To coin a phrase from a movie or television show's closing credits, "no animals were harmed during the making of this production." With those thoughts in mind, let's begin with:

THUMBS-UP to road racing veteran, and part time NASCAR veteran, Boris said for winning the Napa 200 at Montreal. As we all know, Said has a group of dedicated fans known as the "Said Heads" who wear black curly wigs to match their favorite driver's natural hair style. I'm thinking the fan club is still yelling their favorite slogan: "WHO SAID? BORIS SAID ! "

THUMBS-UP to Said's team, RAB Racing, who scored their first ever NASCAR Nationwide Series win. Their driver only led two laps of the race in their Zaxxby's/PFC Ford but it was the most important laps: the final ones. Said came off of the front row of a green-white-checker finish to claim the win and the $101,000 plus winner's check which is really going to help out the often underfunded RAB Racing organization.

He was followed across the line by Max Papis, in Kevin Harvick Inc's #33 Chevrolet, by a mere 0.12 seconds. Montreal native and fan favorite Jacques Villeneuve, in the #32 Braun Racing Toyota, finished third to give the so called specially hired road course ringers a one-two-three sweep of the race.

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THUMBS-UP for the European style, multi car, qualifying system used to determine the line for the Napa 200. It added a lot of pep to what can often be mundane live television broadcasts of NASCAR qualifying.

Wouldn't you just love to see the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race on this very beautiful, but very challenging, Montreal road course? I know I would.

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Question: why did the ground hog try to cross the road?

Answer: because he truly thought he could out run Robby Gordon's Toyota

That question of course leads to a WHAT'S-UP with Robby Gordon's horrible luck during his visit to Montreal last weekend? The near miss of the errant ground hog was the least of his problems, but it's the incident that's going to make the video highlights all week long.

Gordon's Canadian disaster began on Saturday afternoon during qualifying when his left side tires went off course and completely ripped a brake hose loose. In an effort to redeem himself, Gordon remained on the track to get the fastest qualifying lap possible.

It was one lap later than he met up with the errant ground hog who thought this would be a great time to cross the road. Fortunately this fat furry animal had second thoughts and held his position at the edge of the track as Gordon's tires when flying by him. This precautionary action likely spared Gordon problems with PETA: People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

But the worst moment of all came on Sunday afternoon. Gordon, a pre race favorite, was en route to winning the Napa 200 when he ran out of gas. Gordon helplessly watched a trip to victory lane turn into a 14th place finish. This was the incident that set up the green-white-checker finish and the win for Boris Said.

You can bet that Gordon couldn't wait to get back to the USA after that weekend.

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WHAT'S-UP with the bad luck with two other pre race favorites? Carl Edwards led 29 laps of the Napa 200 and was a strong candidate to score his second NASCAR Nationwide Series win of the season. But the effort turned sour on him, with ten laps left in the race, when his Roush Fenway Racing Ford suffered a broken track bar. Edwards had to deal with the frustration of watching a race win turn into a 20th place finish.

Then there's the matter of every one's favorite "Aussie" : Marcos Ambrose. We're all aware of the bizarre, last minute, bad luck that kept him out of the Montreal victory lane for the past three years in a row. We were all willing to bet the farm that last Sunday was going to the day that Ambrose rectified the situation and get the Montreal win he richly deserves.

The effort started on a strong note during Saturday's qualifying session. Ambrose, in his JTG Daughterty Racing Toyota, set the Coors Light fast time after touring the massive road course with a speed of 97.079 MPH.

But, after leading 25 of 77 laps, during the race Ambrose found himself having to deal with a surprise electrical problem that sent him behind the wall on lap 50 and a 33d place finish.

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THUMBS-UP to Kyle Busch for accomplishing his latest NASCAR milestone. Busch won the Enjoy Illinois Dot Com 225 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race Friday night at the Chicagoland Speedway. In typical dominant fashion, Busch led 121 of the race's 154 laps en route to his second, consecutive, win at Chicago as well as his 20th series career win. Remarkably, it was also the fourth NASCAR national touring series win for Busch within a period of nine days.

But, WHAT'S-UP with the harsh racing luck Busch endured when the decided to visit the rough and tumble world of stadium off road racing last week? Busch had just secured a three race sponsorship deal with TRAXXAS, a well known manufacturer of radio controlled race vehicles, for his self owned NASCAR truck team. TRAXXAS is also the official sponsor of TORC, The Off Road Championship Series.

Busch, well known for packing his schedule with appearances in a variety of racing formats, thought it would be a great idea to visit the TRAXXAS TORC Series while driving a Toyota truck at the Route 66 Raceway last Wednesday and Thursday nights.

Realizing that he was entering what is absolutely one of the most physically demanding forms of racing on man and machine, Busch knew he needed some prep work. He spent two days, the week before in Wisconsin, testing with series veterans Rob MacCrachen and Jeff Kincaid. By the time the test was over, Busch was within a tenth of a second from the fastest time. Everyone was extremely impressed with how fast he got the feel of flying a full sized truck off of those dirt jumps.

However, three trucks at a test session does not quite equate to a dirt track filled with racing trucks that are often flying by you with all four wheels in the air. On Wednesday night Busch found himself back in the garage area, with a broken shock, after only completing one lap. The news wasn't any better on Thursday night when he was also sidelined early in the event by mechanical problems.

For a guy who's generally favored to win any and every event he enters, Busch's venture into stadium off road racing had to be a very large reality check.

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