NASCAR: Ron Fellows Does Rain Dance in Montreal

Samuel SicaAnalyst IAugust 2, 2008

The Nationwide Series headed north of the border this weekend for the NAPA Auto Parts 200 from Circuit Gilles Villenueve in Montreal.

The field was filled with road-course experts, including Scott Pruett who earned the pole position, and Max Papis who started outside pole position.

The race would go green with Pruett leading the first seven laps of the race under green flag conditions. The race would quickly change, though, as it began to rain heavily, causing the first caution flag of the race.

The caution would prove to be a very historic moment in NASCAR history, as it would be the first time that a NASCAR race was run in the rain.

The cars all came to pit road to change their Goodyear slicks over to heavy-duty tread tires. They also installed a windshield wiper and a rear brake light on all the cars to help with visibility.

Previously, NASCAR had held a qualifying session in the rain for an exhibition race in Japan and for a practice session at Watkins Glen. But this marked the first time that a NASCAR race was run in the rain.

After pit stops were complete, the field restarted according to where they had been running before the caution flag waved. Shortly after the race restarted, Marcos Ambrose took advantage of his rain tires by passing Pruett for the lead in the first turn by outbraking him.

The speeds dramatically decreased due to the poor track conditions. Speeds were also slower because it was the first time that most of these drivers had ever run a race in the rain. Most drivers didn’t know how the cars would handle on the slick track, which caused them to drive more hesitant.

Ambrose would continue to lead when the second caution flag of the race came out on lap 21 for Justin Marks' machine stalling on the track.

Hardly any of the leaders took advantage of the caution by hitting pit road for fresh tires and fuel except for Ron Fellows and Ron Hornaday. This move would prove to be crucial in the outcome of the race.

Ambrose took the restart as the leader and held that position by a large margin until a caution waved for a spin by Max Papis on lap 30 slowed the field.

Papis ended up getting stuck in the wet grass and could not get out without the help of track personnel.

The race would restart soon after with Ambrose, once again, stretching his lead over the rest of the field. Shortly after the restart, many teams began to make green flag pit stops for fuel.

Boris Said and Scott Wimmer kicked off the round of green flag stops after lap 35. Greg Biffle would be the next to pit for fuel on lap 40 with his teammate Carl Edwards. Clint Bowyer and Patrick Carpentier would be the next front runners to make green flag stops on lap 41.

Shortly after Carpentier made his pit stop from the third position, Ambrose pitted out of the lead for his last scheduled pit stop of the day along with Pruett, Logano, and Reutimann. This would allow Jacques Villeneuve to take the lead before making his pit stop one lap later.

Unfortunately for Ambrose and Reutimann, they would have to make a pass-through penalty for speeding on pit road. This would be costly for both drivers, as they would both fall way behind the new leader, Ron Fellows.

Fellows could run an extra 10 or so laps more than the rest of the field after making that pit stop earlier in the race after the second caution on lap 21. Fellows would open up a 42-second lead over second-place Carpentier before a caution flag came out on lap 46 for heavy rain.

Under this caution period, Villeneuve and Logano would both have troubles with visibility. Villeneuve could not see where he was going and ended up hitting the car in front of him. This incident would end his day after he had run in the top five nearly all day long.

Logano would have the same bad luck, as he too ran in the back of a car in front of him, sending his car into the wall. Logano would suffer major damage causing him to exit the race along with Villeneuve.

Shortly after these two events occurred, NASCAR decided to red-flag the race due to poor visibility. Moments after the red flag, the race was made official after 48 of 74 laps were completed.

This would hand the win over to Ron Fellows, who earned his fourth career Nationwide Series victory, all of which have come on road-courses.

The top 10 were Fellows, Carpentier, Ambrose, Hornaday, Said, Edwards, Jason Leffler, Biffle, Bowyer, and Wimmer.

The top 10 in points are Bowyer, Edwards, Keselowski, Reutimann, David Ragan, Mike Bliss, Kyle Busch, Mike Wallace, Leffler, and Jason Keller.

Montreal is now in the history books, and we can all look forward to another road-course race at Watkins Glen next weekend.