Spotlight on Canucks

DEAN McNULTY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:32 AM ET

Jacques Villeneuve will get a chance to make amends for his just missing a win in the NASCAR Nationwide Series at Road America last month when he hops back into the No. 32 Braun Racing Toyota Saturday in the Zippo 200 at Watkins Glen International.

But his biggest competitors will be pair of other Canadians — Ron Fellows in the No. 88 JR Motorsports Chevrolet and his teammate J.R. Fitzpatrick in he No. 7 JRM Chevrolet.

It speaks volumes about the depth of Canadian race car drivers that these three — only Fitzpatrick came up through the stock car ladder — can walk into NASCAR’s Tier 2 series and immediately assume the favourite status.

For Villeneuve, however, Watkins Glen presents an opportunity for the 39-year-old native of Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que., to do what his dad did at the northern New York State road course.

The late Gilles Villeneuve won his only Formula One U.S. Grand Prix at the Glen in 1979.

And the younger Villeneuve is motivated to get the job done.

“I was very disappointed with our end result at Road America,” he said. “We had such a great car and a fantastic team and to not get the win was frustrating. It was difficult to think we’d have to wait until our return to Montreal to try again.

“I am very much looking forward to the opportunity to race at Watkins Glen for my first time. I think it will be a lot of fun and I hope to end this race in Victory Lane.”

Villeneuve qualified second at Road America and was in contention to win until a broken alternator stopped his car on the final lap.

The Glen will also provide Villeneuve, as well as Fellows and Fitzpatrick, the opportunity to springboard into the only Canadian stop on the NASCAR Nationwide series calendar at Montreal’s Circuit Gilles Villeneuve at the end of this month.

Tire tracks

Canadian Tire has extended its role in support of home-grown racing talent with its sponsorship of the Canadian Tire ASN Canada FIA Canadian Karting Championship, to be held Aug. 18–22 at Mont Tremblant. Canadian Tire will also sponsor the Canadian team entry at the Rotax World Finals in Italy this year.

“Sponsoring karting allows us to extend our support to Canadian driving up and comers, at home in Canada and at the Olympics of karting in Italy,” Canadian Tire’s senior VP Automotive Allan MacDonald said on Tuesday.

Finish lines

Not only did Greg Biffle win Ford’s first NASCAR Sprint Cup race of the 2010 season on Sunday, the weekend also produced two other victories for the Blue Oval racing group. In the BP Abu Dhabi World Rally series, Ford team drivers Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila won the Rally Finland on Saturday and the ROCKSTAR Fiesta duo of Tanner Foust and Brian Deegan finished 1-2 in both the Rally Car and Super Rally events, taking home gold and silver medals for Ford Fiesta in the ESPN X Games at the Los Angeles Coliseum Saturday ... Jack Roush, co-owner of Roush Fenway Racing, has been upgraded to fair condition at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., where was he was being treated for facial injuries sustained in a plane accident last week in Oshkosh, Wisc. ... Word is that Richard Childress Racing will hand over its NASCAR Nationwide and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series programs to Kevin Harvick Inc. for 2011. RCR had been running the No. 21 Chevrolet in the NNS and the No. 3 Silverado in the NCWTS.

dean.mcnulty@sunmedia.ca


Videos

Photos