A Look Back At Rainy Montreal, Ageless Jeff Ward And Next Week

The NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve saw the long, long awaited Goodyear rain tires finally used on the track. The race on Saturday was scheduled for 74 laps was halted after 48 laps due to heavy rain and a flooded track. Veteran Canadian (albeit English-Canadian) Ron Fellows was in front the mostly French-Canadian crowd when the race was called. Consequently, the longtime Chevrolet driver won his fourth career win on the Nationwide Series. French Canadian, Patrick Carpentier of Joliette, Que., was second for a second year in a row.

While some scoffed at the use of rain tires I was actually surprised at the lack of spins and tomfoolery that ensued. While speeds were greatly reduced, the boys did their best and didn’t make a mockery of it. Would I like to see wet races every week, no. I’m surprised that the tires Goodyear had on hand (originally made in 2001) held up so well. However, when the ability to see in the ever narrowing field of vision in the current stock car, it’s worse when you bring heavy rain into the mix. Thus, the race was called by officials. Hey, you stock car media types, yes racecars can race in the rain. Some of the best racing I’ve seen have been in the rain. Seeing Emerson Fittipaldi spank the field at Road America in 1986 was something to behold. It wasn’t pretty last Saturday, but NASCAR had the tires, they gave it a try. Perhaps next time it’ll be better.

Boris Said may have summed it up the best, “Yeah, it’s my kind of racing, but you really need to be set up right and the tires, as old as they are, they’re a little hard, so was zero grip out there. All in all, I’m surprised how well everyone did and how few accidents there were. In the end, people were wrecking under caution because you just couldn’t see. The cars were hydroplaning. All in all, it was a great day, except we didn’t win.”

One concern I had was when Frankie Stoddard, crew chief for Said advised that NASCAR was going to mandate when teams could go back to slicks once the track dried. Well the track never dried so it wasn’t an issue, however, NASCAR needs to step back and let teams dictate when to make changes, that’s why they get paid. NASCAR has to be careful not to over officiate.

Once again, most media outlets reported that the only previous times the grooved rain tires went on were at a practice for a Craftsman Truck event in 1997 at Watkins Glen, and in qualifying at an exhibition race in Japan in 1999. Let’s not forget NASCAR legend Tim Flock won a NASCAR Grand National (before Cup) at Road America in the rain in 1955, granted they weren’t running modern “rain tires” but they had grooves and they ran in the rain.

Fellows ever the class act, wore a T-shirt from the Gilles Villeneuve museum for practice on Friday, but left it off for the race “out for respect for Jacques,” he said.

Fellows will run at Watkins Glen in Sunday’s Cup race, in the #01 Chevy for Dale Earnhardt Inc. subbing for Regan Smith. Fellows is hoping for another ride for Junior in the Nationwide race Saturday.

Kudos to 47-year old Jeff Ward for winning the Supermoto competition in ESPN’s X-Games. Ward won his second X Games gold medal of his career dominating the event. Ward finished second last year to Mark Burkhart. Burkhart who was the pre-race favorite had a miserable race. He wiped out in the first turn and restarted dead last. While trying to make up for lost ground he crashed hard while trying to come up through the field. He was credited with 11th place. The Supermoto competition is the combination of both dirt and tarmac racing. Ward dominated the motocross circuit in the 1980’s, becoming the first rider in history to win every major AMA motocross national championship winning seven titles and 56 wins. Ward moved to auto racing and the open wheel circuit in the 1990’s and eventually ended up in the Indy Racing League. Ward finished third in the 1997 Indy 500 and followed it up with a second place in ’99. He also won the 2002 race at Texas Motor Speedway. Oh, by the way did I say he’s battling skin cancer? Jeff Ward is one tough dude.

Not a big fan of the X-Games though I love the Supermoto. However, I found out why the X-Games are so popular. I watched the whole Supermoto event in just over 30 minutes. The NASCAR Sprint Cup Pocono race was just under four hours long. No ten lap cautions. Granted it helps it’s same-day pre-editied, but it makes a tidy package.

Why did the Milwaukee Mile evacuate the stands during the Camping World 200 Craftsman Truck Series race? This is why: “A Llightning bolt struck 91 auto racing fans at a racetrack in Norway Sunday, and 45 people were taken to hospital with minor burns, police said. ‘No one was seriously injured,’ police officer Hans Eng told the Associated Press. ‘But some of them will stay in the hospital for observation.’ The lightning hit a hill where spectators at the rallycross were sitting. Rallycross is a form of sprint-style automobile racing on a closed circuit.”

Don’t forget, the Generac 500 at Road America presented by Time Warner Cable is scheduled for Saturday, August 9 from Elkhart Lake, Wis. The four-hour race will start at 4 p.m. CT with SPEED televising the race starting at 2 p.m. ET on Sunday, August 10. XM will air the race from 4 to 8 p.m. ET on Sunday via Sports Nation Channel 144.’s Jack Webster, John Wiedemann among others will be providing coverage.

Also, the 2008 IndyCar Series season continues with the Meijer Indy 300 Aug. 9 at Kentucky Speedway. The race will be telecast live in High Definition at 6:30 p.m. (EDT) by ESPN2. The race will air live on the IMS Radio Network. The IMS Radio Network broadcast also is carried on XM Satellite Radio and The 2008 Firestone Indy Lights season continues with the Kentucky 100 on Aug. 9. The race will air at 2 p.m. Aug. 14 on ESPN2.

NASCAR returns to the Glen. Action continues at Watkins Glen International, August 7-10. The Centurion Boats at The Glen NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race will be on Sunday, August 10 at 2:00 PM, and Zippo 200 NASCAR Nationwide Series event will be on Saturday, August 9 at 3:00 PM. Both races will broadcast live on TV. Don’t miss the return of the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series during Friday night’s Crown Royal 200 at The Glen starting after Sprint Cup qualifying at 6:00 PM. For more information and ticket orders, please contact the Watkins Glen International ticket office at 866-461-RACE or log on to the official website at Joe Jennings of will be reporting at the track all weekend.

The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series will be in Nashville for the Toyota Tundra 200, Saturday August 9th, 7:30 ET. Live qualifying and race coverage on the SPEED Network. For ticket info click on: Racingnation photographer, Scott Curbow will be there.

USAC’s “Open Wheel Extravaganzas” continue this Wednesday night at Illiana Motor Speedway in Schererville , Ind. The Regional Midgets, Kenyon Midgets and Midwest/Indiana/UMARA Ford Focuses are all slated for 30-lap feature events. The Midgets compete on the track’s 1/2-mile oval, while the Focuses and Kenyons race on the 1/4-mile.’s John Atlas will be there.

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