Montreal pushing for Sprint Cup race

DEAN McNULTY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:10 PM ET

DAYTONA — The promoter of the NASCAR Nationwide NAPA 200 at Montreal’s Circuit Gilles Villeneuve wants a Sprint Cup race at the Ile de Notre Dame road course.

In an exclusive interview with The Toronto Sun at Daytona International Speedway Octane Motorsports Events boss Francois Dumontier said that it is his objective to have Montreal as home to the first NASCAR Sprint Cup race run outside of the United States.

“Our contract as promoter of the Nationwide race is coming up for renewal and we are in negotiations to extend that,” he said. “And although we have not had any direct discussions, yet, about a Cup race in Canada, that is our objective.”

The NAPA 200 has been among the most successful Nationwide races on that series’ schedule since its debut, and has sold out every race since.

Even when it is up against a Sprint Cup race — as it was in 2007 with a Cup race in Pocono — the Montreal event still manages to draw to capacity.

This year, the NAPA 200 will be run on Aug. 20, the same weekend the Sprint Cup series will at Michigan International Speedway.

But according to Dumontier, that is close enough to attract Cup drivers to do “the double” that weekend.

“The first year of our race we were up against the Cup race in Pocono and we succeeded is getting a number of Cup drivers in Montreal so we are working very closely with NASCAR to make sure we have some Cup representatives come up from Michigan.”

Dumontier said that his race has already scored something of a coup in having racing super star Danica Patrick agreeing to add Montreal to her J.R. Motorsports schedule this season on the No. 7 Chevrolet.

“We will have Danica Patrick this year and Elliott Sadler will be running for the Nationwide championship,” he said.

Another problem that was dropped in Montreal’s lap was NASCAR’s decision to prevent Cup drivers from competing for the Nationwide championship.

In previous years Cup drivers such as Kyle Busch, Brad Keselowski and Carl Edwards raced in all Nationwide events in an attempt to be the first to win championships in both series in the same season.

But Dumontier is confident even with the new rule, Montreal will draw some big names.

“Carl Edwards, for one, has told us he will be in Montreal,” he said.

Next on Dumontier’s to-do list is getting the three top active Quebec drivers — Jacques Villeneuve, Patrick Carpentier and Andrew Ranger — to sign on for the August show.

So far no good news on that front, although Carpentier is in some talks for a one-off ride.

“We have had no word yet on whether Jacques or Andrew have deals, but I spoke to Patrick recently and he said he is working on something (for Montreal),” Dumontier said. “But you can be sure all three will be on he grid when the green flag drops on Aug. 20.”

On the open-wheel side of the racing world, Dumontier said Octane’s plans for the Honda Edmonton Indy are going full steam ahead after a few false starts.

“It has been a long road, and some would say a bumpy road, in Edmonton but finally we have an agreement with the city that we feel will allow us to put on a first class racing weekend,” he said. “We have started ticket sales and so far so good.

“Edmonton has very enthusiastic fans and we think we can bring them back to the numbers the race attracted in its first few years.”


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