All eyes will be on Fellows

DEAN MCNULTY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:29 AM ET

Defending NASCAR Nationwide series NAPA 200 champion at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal, Ron Fellows, will be a walking, talking, driving centre of attention this weekend.

Canada's most successful NASCAR driver -- six wins (two in the Truck series and four in the Nationwide series) -- will be on the list of every Sprint Cup driver looking to notch a win at Montreal with NASCAR's top division on an off weekend not to mention sponsorship and team commitments for JR Motorsports and Hendrick Motorsports who will prepare the No. 5 Chevrolet for the race.

Yet, there is nowhere Fellows would rather be.

He joked this week that at his advanced age (he will turn 50 on Sept. 28) winning at any level of racing is something to be savoured, but doing it at the Nationwide level like he did in Montreal last year is even more special.

"I guess I have more in common with Mark Martin that just driving the No. 5 Chevrolet," Fellows said. "We were both born in (the 1950s)."

And both have won races in their fifth decade.

Fellows has to be considered a favourite to become the first repeat winner at Montreal, with his experience and the resources of Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Rick Hendrick at his disposal.

"I know they will give me a great car," he said. "And the crew they have assembled for me is the same one we won with last year."

Besides the competition from Cup regulars such as Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards, Kevin Harvick and Marcos Ambrose, Fellows also will have to watch for Patrick Carpentier, who has finished second twice at his home track, who will be driving the No. 99 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota.

"The Toyotas were very strong at Watkins Glen and I expect them to be strong in Montreal," Fellows said.

As for Carpentier, a native of the Montreal suburb of Joliette, he's ready to move up one step on the podium.

"I am really looking forward to running at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve," he said. "We've got the Sprint Cup guys and some good road-course racers like Ron who won it last year. Jacques Villeneuve is planning to race and so is Carl Edwards. There are quite a few guys coming up here so it is going to be interesting. We will see how it will all play out."

Dancing with Danica

It's possible that Danica Patrick -- the most sought after race-car driver in North America it seems -- may finally have decided where she will race in the 2010 season.

During this past weekend, Patrick told media members that she has pretty much abandoned the idea of racing in NASCAR -- especially after such noteworthy experts as Darrell Waltrip advised her against it.

She also must have seen the steep learning curve during her frequent visits to various Sprint Cup team shops in North Carolina over the past few months.

"The devil you know is better than the devil you don't know," Patrick said at California's Infineon Raceway. "Every team has its pitfalls and its people that are difficult. I just like some of the changes that are being made in the (Andretti-Green Racing) team, and that's good for me."

Or maybe it was a chat with IRL champion and Indy 500 winner Dario Franchitti, who may have passed on his tales of NASCAR horror when he tried stock cars in 2008.

Also, she has commented frequently this season about how her performance has improved under the direct tutelage of team owner Michael Andretti, and now that he is complete control at AGR, she likes what's in store for her even though a contract has yet to be inked beyond this year.

And finally, driving the spike into Tony Stewart's heart, she added that "there are no other teams other than AGR, Ganassi and Penske that you'd want to go to."

Patrick also said in an interview with racer.com that the IRL also must step up its commitment to not only her but to other top stars in the series.

"I'm not the only show here, that's for darn sure," she said. "There are a lot of great personalities. I wish the other drivers' sponsors would put them on the map more than they do."

Finish lines

Formula One leader Brawn GP apparently has found a new sponsor with deep pockets to keep the team afloat at least through the next three seasons. Virgin, which has footed the bill this season, will move to another team in 2010 ... German sports car racing giant Audi has announced it will join French rival Peugeot in contesting Petit Le Mans in the American Le Mans Series next month, fielding two of its R15 TDis with Allan McNish and Rinaldo Capello, and Lucas Luhr and Marco Werner sharing the two cars ... ESPN is reporting that big changes are coming at Richard Childress Racing. "We're getting ready to make a lot of changes to hopefully change (the performance)," the sports network quoted team owner Richard Childress as saying.


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