Fellows 'runs with the big dogs,' but finishes seventh

DEAN McNULTY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:49 AM ET

WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. - Ron Fellows had it planned that a good effort in the NASCAR Nationwide Series ZIPPO 200 at Watkins Glen International on Saturday would set him up perfectly for next week’s home race at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal.

And with just five laps left in the 82-lap race, Fellows was sitting in third place in the No. 5 JR Motorsports Canadian Tire Chevrolet.

But a decision to take four tires on a caution with only a green-white-checkered finish left in the proceedings dropped the Toronto driver to seventh behind eventual winner Kurt Busch in the No. 22 Penske Racing Dodge.

“I will not fault anyone on that call,” a disappointed Fellows said. “There were only 10 cars on the lead lap and we figured it was a gamble worth taking to have fresher tires than everybody in front of us.”

He had fought all afternoon against a gaggle of Sprint Cup drivers — including Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards, Joey Logano and Paul Menard — who had stepped down to the Nationwide race on this day and pretty much dominated the proceedings from the opening lap of the 82-lap affair.

The final results reflected their presence, with Johnson finishing second, Logano third, Kyle Busch fourth, Edwards fifth and Menard sixth in front of Fellows.

“At the end it wasn’t the tires that held us back but the brakes,” Fellows said. “We just couldn’t get any heat to the brakes and that kept us from passing anyone on the final two laps.”

He said he was able to stay with the Cup guys throughout the race and twice passed Edwards only to lose the position late in green-flag runs.

“We showed we could run with the big dogs today,” Fellows said. “The No. 5 team really did a good job with the car and we really were in contention at every stage of the race.”

Next week in Montreal, Fellows will not have to face any of the Cup drivers he faced Saturday. They will be racing at Michigan International Speedway.

Only Marcos Ambrose, who did not enter Saturday’s race, will be at Montreal from the Cup contingent.

As for the two Canadian youngsters in the race, 24-year-old Andrew Ranger of Roxton Pond, Que., survived a penalty for speeding non pit lane to get back on the lead lap only to an upper front suspension failure on Lap 42 in the No. 53 Dodge.

And J.R. Fitzpatrick’s string of bad luck this season continued Saturday when the transmission failed in the No. 67 Go Canada Racing Ford Mustang.

“No luck that’s for sure,” Fitzpatrick tweeted. “We just settled in, car was tight woulda had a good solid top 15 I think. Transmission broke.”

Finish lines

Neat bit of philanthropy by Aussie NASCAR Sprint Cup driver Ambrose and his sponsor Stanley Tools when they announced they will donate $100,000 to the Canadian Tire Jumpstart program next week at the Nationwide race in Montreal. Jumpstart is a community-based program that helps kids aged 4-18 participate in organized sport and recreation activities such as hockey, soccer, dance and swimming. ... Bad news this week for female fans who thought they might have a shot at being Mrs. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. NASCAR’s most popular driver told an interviewer he has no plans to marry any time soon, but would like to be a father at some time in the future. ... Quote of the week so far has to go to Denny Hamlin, driver of the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, on the expected beating and banging Sunday at Watkins Glen: “After the last road-course race in Sonoma I told my crew chief, ‘Build me a tank. Build me something I can hit guys, and slam into guys, and I can be hit without my car falling apart” ... Four-time Sprint Cup champion Jeff Gordon is pushing to have a road course — like Watkins Glen — included in the final 10 Chase for the Championship races. “I’ve always said that in order to make the championship fully complete and find out the true best team and driver, the only thing that I think we’re missing in the Chase right now is a road course,” he said.


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