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post #1 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-16-2011, 05:02 PM Thread Starter
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Exclamation NASCAR 8/20-21 (Sat & Sun)




Race Capsule
Michigan International Speedway

What: Race 15 of 25 on Camping World Truck circuit
Where: Michigan International Speedway, Brooklyn, MI
When: Saturday August 20, 2011 12:47 pm EDT SPEED
Laps: 100
Track Length: 2. miles
Race Length: 200.00 miles


Records
Date Series Driver Speed

6/13/99 Sprint Cup Race Dale Jarrett 174.00
6/19/05 Sprint Cup Qualifying Ryan Newman 194.232
8/18/07 Nationwide Race Denny Hamlin 156.00
8/18/07 Nationwide Qualifying Greg Biffle 186.548
7/26/03 Camping World Truck Race Brendan Gaughan 154.00
6/18/05 Camping World Truck Qualifying Kyle Busch 181.612

Camping World Truck Series
Upcoming Race Aug 20
VFW 200



Camping World Truck
Date Race Name Pole Winner Race Winner Make Purse
6/12/10 VFW 200 Austin Dillon Aric Almirola Toyota $494,252
6/13/09 Michigan 200 Brian Ickler Colin Braun Ford $603,707
6/14/08 Cool City Customs 200 Mike Skinner Erik Darnell Ford $625,826
6/16/07 Michigan 200 Travis Kvapil Travis Kvapil Ford $617,811


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post #2 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-16-2011, 05:08 PM Thread Starter
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NAPA Auto Parts 200
Circuit Gilles Villeneuve



Race Capsule

What: Race 24 of 34 on Nationwide circuit
Where: Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, Montreal, Canada
When: SATURDAY August 20, 2011 2:46 pm EDT ESPN
Laps: 74
Track Length: 2.709 miles
Race Length: 200.00 miles


Circuit Gilles Villeneuve
Records

Date Series Driver Speed
8/4/07 Nationwide Race Kevin Harvick 65.00
8/29/10 Nationwide Qualifying Marcos Ambrose 97.079

Nationwide Series
Upcoming Race Aug 20
NAPA Auto Parts 200

Track Facts

Location: Montreal, PQ
Banking/Turns: 14-turn
Distance: 2.71 miles
Shape: 14-turn

Nationwide
Date Race Name Pole Winner Race Winner Make Purse
8/29/10 NAPA Auto Parts 200 Marcos Ambrose Boris Said Ford $1,760,821
8/30/09 NAPA Auto Parts 200 Marcos Ambrose Carl Edwards Ford $2,092,591
8/2/08 NAPA Auto Parts 200 Scott Pruett Ron Fellows Chevrolet $2,096,753
8/4/07 NAPA Auto Parts 200 Patrick Carpentier Kevin Harvick Chevrolet $2,075,651

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Pure Michigan 400
Michigan International Speedway




Race Capsule
Michigan International Speedway

What: Race 23 of 36 on Sprint Cup circuit
Where: Michigan International Speedway, Brooklyn, MI
When: SUNDAY August 21, 2011 1:16 pm EDT ESPN
Laps: 200
Track Length: 2. miles
Race Length: 400.00 miles


Records
Date Series Driver Speed
6/13/99 Sprint Cup Race Dale Jarrett 174.00
6/19/05 Sprint Cup Qualifying Ryan Newman 194.232
8/18/07 Nationwide Race Denny Hamlin 156.00
8/18/07 Nationwide Qualifying Greg Biffle 186.548
7/26/03 Camping World Truck Race Brendan Gaughan 154.00
6/18/05 Camping World Truck Qualifying Kyle Busch 181.612

Sprint Cup Series
Upcoming Race Aug 21
Pure Michigan 400

Track Facts
Michigan International Speedway

Location: Brooklyn, MI
Banking/Turns: D-Oval
Distance: 2.00 miles
Shape: D-Oval

Most Cup Wins (since 1975)

Bill Elliott: 7


Sprint Cup
Date Race Name Pole Winner Race Winner Make Purse
6/19/11 Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips 400 Kurt Busch Denny Hamlin Toyota $5,082,319
6/13/10 Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips 400 Kurt Busch Denny Hamlin Toyota $5,129,955
8/15/10 Carfax 400 Kasey Kahne Kevin Harvick Chevrolet $5,126,880
6/14/09 LifeLock 400 Brian Vickers Mark Martin Chevrolet $5,282,675
8/16/09 Carfax 400 Brian Vickers Brian Vickers Toyota $5,279,259
6/15/08 LifeLock 400 Kyle Busch Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet $5,243,196
8/17/08 3M Performance 400 Brian Vickers Carl Edwards Ford $5,239,780
6/17/07 Citizens Bank 400 J.J. Yeley Carl Edwards Ford $5,137,383
8/21/07 3M Performance 400 Jeff Gordon Kurt Busch Dodge $5,138,579

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post #4 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-16-2011, 05:19 PM Thread Starter
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Published on August 16, 2011 by Official Release ·

Dodge Motorsports Notes & Quotes

NSCS Race Advance

Pure Michigan 400 Michigan International Speedway

Sunday, Aug. 21, 2011

DODGE AT MICHIGAN INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY


. Dodge has won nine races at Michigan International Speedway: Charlie Glotzbach, Richard Petty (2), Sterling Marlin, Ryan Newman (2), Jeremy Mayfield, Kasey Kahne and Kurt Busch. Busch earned Dodge its last win at MIS at the August event last year. He started 15th and led 36 laps en route to victory. He has two wins and eight top-10 finishes in 20 starts at the two-mile track.

. Dodge holds the MIS qualifying record of 37.069 seconds, 194.232 mph (Ryan Newman, June 2005).

. Dodge has six wins at MIS since its return to NASCAR’s premier series in 2001.

DODGE NEWS AND NOTES

. Kurt Busch is the only Sprint Cup Series driver who has been in the top-10 in the driver point standings all 22 races this season.

. Brad Keselowski is one of only five Sprint Cup drivers with multiple wins this season.

. Robby Gordon’s No. 7 Dodge is not in the top 35 in owner points and must earn a berth in the 43-car starting field on speed during qualifying.

THE DODGE BOYS

. Dodge has 210 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victories.

. Dodge’s most recent win came at Pocono Raceway on August 8. Brad Keselowski led 19 of the 200 laps en route to victory. The victory was the third for Dodge in 2011.

. Dodge teams have posted 50 victories since the manufacturer’s return to NASCAR’s premier series in 2001 after being out of the sport since 1977. . Dodge has posted wins each season since its return in 2001 including seven wins twice (2002 and 2006). . Dodge claimed two Sprint Cup victories in 2010.

2011 DODGE SPRINT CUP REWIND

. Race 1: Kurt Busch wins the Bud Shootout and a Gatorade Duel during Speedweeks.

. Races 12-15: Dodge earns four consecutive poles.

. Race 13: Keselowski wins Kansas; first Dodge win of the season.

. Race 16: Busch dominates at Infineon for first win of season and first road-course victory of his career.

. Race 21: Keselowski, racing with a broken left ankle, earns his second win of the season at Pocono Raceway.

INSIDE THE NUMBERS

. Of the 84 Cup Series races held at Michigan International Speedway, 16 have been won from the pole.

. Kurt Busch led the Dodge Boys at the June race at MIS. Busch started from the pole and led twice before finishing ninth. Teammate Brad Keselowski was 25th and Robby Gordon finished 37th.

ODDS AND ENDS

. With his win at Infineon, Kurt Busch has now posted a win in Sprint Cup competition 10 consecutive seasons.

. While subbing for injured Penske Racing teammate Brad Keselowski at Watkins Glen, Kurt Busch was tabbed “Kurt Buschlowski” after donning Keselowski’s fire suit and driving the No. 22 Dodge Challenger to victory in the Nationwide Series event on Saturday.

. The Dodge Challengers from Penske Racing will be driven by Jacques Villeneuve (No. 22 Discount Tire Dodge) and Alex Tagliani (No. 12 Hot Wheels Dodge) this weekend at Montreal.

. Robby Gordon will pull double-duty this weekend. He is entered in the Nationwide event in Montreal on Saturday and the Sprint Cup event at MIS on Sunday.

. Three Sprint Cup races at MIS have been caution free.

STAT OF THE WEEK

. Only two of the last 12 Cup Series races at Michigan have been won from a starting position outside of the top 15.

2011 SPRINT CUP SERIES SEASON BEST

. Kurt Busch Start: 1st (Kansas, Pocono & Michigan) Finish: 1st (Infineon)

. Brad Keselowski Start: 1st (Charlotte) Finish: 1st (Kansas & Pocono)

. Robby Gordon Start: 30th (Daytona) Finish: 16th (Daytona)

FROM THE ENGINEER “It had been quite a while since we heard drivers complain about the cars being ‘aero tight’, a condition that makes the cars want to not turn if you’re behind someone that’s taking the air off the front of your car. But when we raced at Michigan in June, the condition seemed to be a real problem for many. We saw nearly anybody that was at the front of the field in clean air able to just rocket away from everybody else, while those mired in traffic struggled to make their cars turn. Engineers this week will have to come up with solutions to the dreaded ‘aero tight’ condition that won’t make the rear of the car so loose that drivers have to deal with that issue.” Howard Comstock, Dodge Motorsports Engineering

DODGE QUOTES “We’ll be doing everything we possibly can to put our Dodge Charger into the winner’s circle this weekend at M.I.S. and party down with all our great friends at Dodge. All the manufacturers are located fairly close to the speedway and they all really want to win the races there. We have such a great relationship with all the folks at Dodge and they are super supporters of Penske Racing. We’ve been so proud to take Dodge to Victory Lane in the Sonoma (Infineon Raceway) points race and in the big Bud Shootout and qualifying race wins we had down in Daytona. A win at Michigan on Sunday would be great for Dodge and super for Shell, Pennzoil and all our sponsors.”

“Michigan is one track where you always come in there planning on it to have fuel mileage involved in the equation. It’s always been a track where there aren’t many cautions and that works to push the fuel mileage aspect to the top of the list as far as strategy goes.” Kurt Busch, No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Dodge Charger R/T

“I always have a lot of fun when it’s time to head to Michigan. It’s one of those tracks that mean so much to me and my family. I remember going there watching my dad race back when I was a little kid and can remember coming through that tunnel amazed at how big this place was to me. It’s cool to go back home to race in front of family and friends. It’s in Dodge’s backyard and we certainly know how important of a race it is for them. I really want to win a Cup race at Michigan and I think we can do it this weekend.” Brad Keselowski, No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger R/T

“I can sum up into two words why I came to Penske Racing two years ago – Brad Keselowski. After a few years of trying to outrun him in the Nationwide Series, I knew how good he could be. These past few weeks have proven that to everyone. He’s as mentally tough as they come.” Paul Wolfe, crew chief, No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger R/T

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No. 12 Hot Wheels Dodge Challenger Preview – NAPA Auto Parts 200
Published on August 16, 2011 by Official Release
Alex Tagliani

No. 12 Hot Wheels Dodge Challenger

Circuit Gilles Villeneuve – NAPA Auto Parts 200

August 20, 2011

No. 12 Hot Wheels Dodge Challenger News and Notes


Alex Tagliani, driver of the No. 12 Hot Wheels Dodge Challenger, will make his first start of the 2011 NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) season on Saturday afternoon in the NAPA Auto Parts 200 at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal, Canada. Race coverage will begin at 2:30 pm ET on ESPN and action will be heard live on the Motor Racing Network and Sirius Channel 90.

. This weekend’s event will mark Tagliani’s third Nationwide Series start since 2009.

. This will serve as the first race together for Tagliani, the 2009 Indy 500 Rookie of the Year and 2011 Indianapolis 500 pole sitter, and crew chief Chad Walter. This is also the first race for Tagliani with Penske Racing.

. Tagliani will make his first start of the 2011 NNS season in Penske Racing chassis No. 218. Saturday will mark his third NNS start in a Dodge.

. Tagliani will make his first NNS start at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve this weekend. He has had previous success in the CART series at the track with one pole and four top-10 starts along with a best finish of fourth in 2003. He has also had one pole and two top-five starts in the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series (NCATS) at Montreal. He will be making his fourth start in the (NCATS) this weekend.

. Born and raised in Montreal, Tagliani considers Circuit Gilles Villeneuve his home track.

. Tagliani will be very busy during the week leading up to the NAPA Auto Parts 200. He will be participating in the following events throughout the week..

o The “Quebec Stars” autograph session on Thursday, August 18 from 1-2 pm ET in the infield at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve

o Tagliani, along with Mattel, will unveil the custom designed No. 12 Hot Wheels Dodge Challenger to the media in the garage area on Thursday, August 18 from 2:30-3:30 pm ET

o Also on Thursday, August 18 from 6:45-7:15 pm ET, Tagliani will participate in the Octane Race Fan Event with CKAC located at Les 3 Brasseurs, followed by the Sennheiser Autograph Session at Future Shop from 7:30-8:30 pm ET

o He will sign autographs at the Dodge Display area in the “Center of the Island” on Friday, August 19 from 12:45-1:30 pm ET

o Following race day, on Sunday, August 21, he will sign for fans at the Toys R Us store, located at 460 Ste-Catherine Ouest, from 1-1:30 pm ET

Alex Tagliani’s comments on this weekend’s NAPA Auto Parts 200

“Having the chance to run with such a great team that has a strong history of success in every series they’ve ever run in, combined with racing on my home track at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, is a great opportunity and honor. The chance to take part in the NASCAR Nationwide Series race with Penske Racing came about because of a great and long relationship with Dodge and the additional support of Hot Wheels as a sponsor. I hope to make them all proud. This race will be a huge challenge for me but with the help of my crew chief Chad Walter, I should be very well prepared for the task at hand. Running with my teammate, Jacques Villeneuve, in the No. 22 Discount Tire Dodge Challenger and me in the No.12 Hot Wheels Dodge Challenger, we will no doubt have a very strong team and the support of our hometown racing fans. Hopefully we can pull off a very positive result.”

Crew Chief, Chad Walter’s comments on this weekend’s NAPA Auto Parts 200

“Penske Racing has enjoyed a long history of road racing success, so I am looking forward to the race at Montreal with Alex Tagliani, a hometown product. At the end of the day, road racing requires a complete package to be successful – the aerodynamics, power, setup and gearing all have to be in sync. There is a special emphasis on brakes at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve as well. The single most important factor this weekend will come down to the driver’s skill set and Alex has proven to be very quick in the No. 12 Hot Wheels Dodge Challenger. Montreal is a beautiful city, with a first class racing facility, so I look forward to being competitive and ending the afternoon in Victory Lane.”

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The Dodge Boys are Giving Us A Reason to Cheer
by Pete Misiak

August 16, 2011

It’s a great time of year to be a sports fan.



The baseball pennant races are heating up as the teams slug their way through the dog days of summer. Football, in all its forms – from the pro ranks to college to high schoolers – is about to kick off another season. Hockey training camps will open in less than a month. The NBA? Well, we’ll have to wait that one out.



And then there’s one other sport that is nearing the climax of its regular schedule and is about to enter its elite “second season” of competition – NASCAR. Leading the way and carrying the Dodge banner are two members of the Penske Racing team who have recently garnered headlines and accolades for their aggressive skills behind the wheel – Brad Keselowski and Kurt Busch.



Case in point: Less than two weeks ago Keselowski, who drives the Number 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger, suffered a broken ankle and a bruised back in a testing mishap on the track. Since that injury, he earned his second Sprint Cup win of the season Aug. 7 at Pocono and a runner-up finish Aug. 15 at Watkins Glen raceway.



See end of the post for a recap of last weekend's Dodge, Mopar® and Ram motorsports results.



“I’m really proud of my guys for giving me a fast Miller Lite Dodge Charger,” said Keselowski. “I wanted to win, but if I’m going to lose on a road course to someone, Marcos Ambrose is the man. He’s so good on restarts and I thought we had a shot at it. That’s all you can ask for as a driver. We were really good on long runs today. I’m proud of the day. I’m proud of the finish. It was a good points day for us.”



Keselowski vaulted up four spots in the season point standings to 14th. With only four races remaining to determine the “Chase for the Sprint Cup” field, Keselowski is in excellent position to grab one of the wild card berths in the 12-driver field. The top 10 in the point standings after the 26th race – Richmond – automatically advance. The two wild cards come from the drivers 11th to 20th in the point standings.



Meanwhile, Busch hasn’t exactly been a shrinking violet when it comes to stirring up headlines of his own.



With Keselowski still nursing that broken left ankle, the 2004 Cup Series champion Busch had a hallway conversation with his injured Penske teammate and agreed to drive the Number 22 Ruby Tuesday/Discount Tire Dodge in last wekend’s 82-lap Nationwide Series race. Busch served as a worthy replacement, winning the Zippo 200 and earning Dodge its third Nationwide win of the season



“I just have to thank this crew for allowing me to step in,” said Busch. “They were starting to call me ‘Buschlowski’ because I was wearing Brad’s fire suit. It’s really neat to come over here and sit on the pole and win."



Busch can also take comfort in his elite position in the Chase standings. He is nestled comfortably in sixth place as the NASCAR season winds down.



But Busch is also making news off the track.



He’s been in a war of words with driver Jimmie Johnson after the two had a confrontation at Pocono. The two slammed into each other on the final lap, with Johnson accusing Busch of trying to run him down while Busch contends Johnson made the first move. Busch finished third, one spot ahead of Johnson at the finish.



It all makes for great sidebar stories and real-life drama – winning despite a broken ankle, teammates bonding, drivers bad-mouthing each other.



So, if you haven’t already done so, take a few moments over the coming weeks to acquaint yourselves with the accomplishments of Kurt Busch and Brad Keselowski, two great competitors.



As the chase to “The Chase” revs up, it’s a great time of year to be a NASCAR fan.



Rick

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NASCAR 2011: Jacques Villeneuve is a single dad with global interests


August 17, 2011


Jacques Villeneuve, driver of the #22 Discount Tire Dodge, speaks with the media prior to practice for the NASCAR Nationwide Series Bucyrus 200 presented by Menards at Road America on June 24, 2011 in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.

It’s fine to go through life without personal assistants, Jacques Villeneuve was saying recently.

But it is a whole lot more hectic.

“I’m just a guy with two little boys who’s busy running his life, taking care of his bills,” Villeneuve said with a chuckle from his Montreal home, his sons Jules, 4, and Jonas, 3, pinballing around noisily in the background.

“Doing one tiny little thing takes half a day (now), when I used to have people doing it for me. You realize how busy life can be.”

Hardly a mystery to any parent without enough hours on their clock. A bit of a revelation for a single father whose interests are still taking him around the globe, and whose concerns on this day included arranging a visa for a trip this month to Brazil, where he’d race a stock car – after he’d recently negotiated a deal, while racing in Wisconsin, to compete in Spain.

Villeneuve is between full-time rides, steady employment as elusive in NASCAR as it is in the cockpit of any race car. This weekend, he’ll be back on Circuit Gilles Villeneuve for his fourth go at the NAPA Auto Parts 200, having finished 16th in 2008, fourth in 2009 and third last year.

The 40-year-old will be behind the wheel of Brad Keselowski’s No. 22 Discount Tire/Ruby Tuesday Dodge Challenger, out of the Penske Racing stable – the car Kurt Busch drove to a win at Watkin’s Glen last weekend.

It surely will be the best road-course car Villeneuve has steered in a six-race Nationwide Series career; he debuted here in 2008’s torrential rains, his car not equipped with a windshield wiper, and wound up rear-ending Alex Garcia during a full-course caution to finish up the track, the final car on the lead lap.

The Penske team called Villeneuve a couple of months ago and signed him to a two-race deal: the June 25 event at Road America at Elkhart Lake, Wis., and this weekend’s NAPA 200.

“That’s about how it works in racing in general,” Villeneuve said of the offer from the Penske team.

“Sometimes, you’ll get a call because they think you’ll be spending money to race and they need cash, and sometimes they think you can bring something positive to the program. Dodge USA was behind this, which was also very important.”

Not to be underestimated is the appreciation that Villeneuve and Keselowski have for each other, and the fact it seemed almost inevitable that he’d one day work for the Penske outfit against which he memorably raced IndyCar in 1994-95.

“There’s always been a tremendous respect (of Penske),” said Villeneuve, who piloted Keselowski’s Dodge to an eventful third-place finish at Road America in June.

“And Brad has been very positive toward me, so I think that helped internally at Penske.”

Villeneuve happily recalls his two Montreal races against Keselowski, who has turned over his wheels to Villeneuve this weekend while he himself competes in Sprint Cup in Michigan.

“Two years ago, we spent half the race banging wheels,” Villeneuve said. “It was aggressive but it was clean. We ran into each other a few times but never on purpose. At some point, the cars are bigger and the track is narrower than you want them to be, so we kept leaning on each other. It was good fun – muscle and tough, and a great battle.

“Then Brad and I got out of our cars and laughed at each other. It was great, and we didn’t forget that.

“That’s been very positive for me driving his car. He’s the kind of guy who respects what other people can do. He’s an amazing driver who still has a bit to learn on the road course, and I think he thought my driving his car would be great for their program as well.”

At last month’s Nationwide event in Lebanon, Tenn., Keselowski considered what shape the “intelligently aggressive” racer (as Villeneuve called himself before his 1993 Montreal debut) might return his car. “Hopefully, it comes back in one piece with Gatorade on it,” he replied with a grin, hinting at a trip to Victory Lane.

Keselowski said that, from the beginning of the season, putting a road-course specialist in his car here was a serious option.

“We hadn’t really made the decision until we got the right driver that made sense for the sponsors and the team,” he said. “Obviously, Jacques is a very aggressive, talented racer. I’d love to see him win in my car. And what he means to the town of Montreal, I think it’s just good for everybody on our team.”

Villeneuve has always been a great story in this city, his first race on the circuit named for his late father producing a 1993 Formula Atlantic victory following impressive Formula 3 showings in Italy and Japan.

The ’93 Atlantic win, on the undercard of the Formula One Canadian Grand Prix, was his springboard into IndyCar racing. There he’d win the circuit’s rookie-of-the-year title in 1994, the historic Indianapolis 500 and series championship in 1995, then graduate to a decade in F1, which saw him win the world title with Williams in 1997, his sophomore year.

When Villeneuve’s F1 opportunities evaporated for a variety of reasons during the 2006 season, he settled in Montreal and turned his eye to NASCAR and other forms of racing that have taken him far and wide.

But stock cars have special appeal, and he’s been knocking on doors hoping that his racing pedigree, history and solid performance in a car with a roof won’t go unnoticed.

Last month, he travelled unannounced to a NASCAR race weekend in Loudon, N.H., to put a few irons in the fire.

“I’ve been working on this a few years now. It just takes a while to get going,” Villeneuve said. “Every time I get in the car, the racing and the results are better.

“Every time there’s a good show, the team and sponsor get good mileage and good information. It’s building up. When you (have success) one time, it could be a one-off. But now it’s been like that every race, so they’re starting to realize there’s value in it.”

Villeneuve arrives this weekend for his 15th career race on the Île Notre Dame circuit. He’s not won here since Atlantic in 1993, finishing an F1-best second for Williams in 1996 and a NASCAR-best third last summer for Todd Braun.

Of his three stock-car starts here, Villeneuve most cherishes 2008, NASCAR’s first point-scoring race run on rain tires that aquaplaned through an afternoon-long downpour.

It caught many teams without defoggers and windshield wipers, his included, drivers turning left and right by instinct and with fingers crossed.

“It was raining so hard it was crazy. It was amazing,” marvelled Villeneuve, who has run through Biblical monsoons in every type of open-wheel car.

“To see all the NASCAR guys who weren’t really road racers, and also had never driven in the wet – there was no practice in the rain and the first lap they did in the wet was the race start. But everything went fine. They all managed to drive, there weren’t that many crashes, it was an amazing race. They all stepped up. I was very impressed with all that.

“In other (racing), where people are used to running in the wet, if something like that had happened, there would have been whining about how much water there was and they all would have been going off (the track). In NASCAR, nobody whined. They were just all excited.

“They found it fun and they drove well. That really got to me.”

Villeneuve said the only time he’s raced in that amount of water was in the late 1980s and early ’90s in Formula 3 in Italy and Japan, “where you drove whatever the situation was just to survive, even if you couldn’t see an inch in front of you.

“That’s how it was in Montreal. Before here, (NASCAR) didn’t drive in the rain. Where the whole racing world is saying: ‘We can’t do that, it’s too crazy,’ NASCAR is going crazier and actually allowing it.

“It created an amazing race. I really enjoyed it.”

At no point, Villeneuve said, has he believed this racetrack owes him a victory, no matter its name or his misfortune created by himself, by others or by mechanical failure.

“I’ve never thought about it like that, ever, in all my racing career,” he said. “The good thing is, I’ve won once in Montreal, but after that it’s gone bad.”

He laughs as he speaks those words, having run between ninth and 22nd in F1 following his runner-up finish and 16th in his first Nationwide swim meet before two top-fives. But he does love every experience, of that there’s no doubt.

“I’ve always enjoyed racing on this track,” Villeneuve said, never referring to it by name. “Qualifying is not so exciting (in NASCAR) because the cornering speed is quite slow and it’s quite intricate with all the heavy braking and changes of direction. The cars aren’t made for that. But once you get into racing, there’s always something going on, wherever. It’s great for the fans and great for us drivers.”

His Road America set-up in this season’s new Nationwide car – one he’s enjoyed from his first lap in it – was very solid, showing Villeneuve to be very good under braking and in the slow-speed corners. A test session on a road course in Kershaw, N.C., last week was done to tweak a few things, and he’s optimistic that the Penske Dodge “should be good in Montreal as long as we can ride the curbs.

“The cars are heavier than last year, but somehow they drive better. It has good front end grip and moves a little bit less. I really loved it in Elkhart Lake. It was a lot of fun to drive.

“The only thing now, and (it’s something) the teams are used to by now, is that I need good brakes,” he said, laughing again. “From what I saw in Elkhart Lake and last year in Montreal, I’ll brake later than anyone. The key is to have brakes that survive. They did here last year and at Road America. I could brake hard the whole race.”

There are full-time Nationwide drivers in this weekend’s field who steer their cars in their sleep, who in two months will run more NASCAR races than Villeneuve has in his career. And yet none are likely as naturally gifted behind the wheel as Villeneuve, who’s never lost the touch despite long stretches of competitive inactivity.

“The first two laps sometimes are a little bit surprising,” he admitted. “It’s just the visual aspect of the speed, which you kind of lose touch with. You drive on the roads very slowly, then you get in the race. Visually, you’re not used to going 250 km/h and your brain just has to get back into it.

“It takes a lap or two of hitting your brakes and realizing, ‘I can brake 50 metres later than that.’ Five minutes, a couple of laps and you’re back into it. Your body remembers it all.

“And sometimes it’s good to have a little break because you can learn again. That was often the problem I found with Formula One – you were driving every week and you got in that rhythm. Then you got stuck in that rhythm.

“Sometimes you need to take a little time off, maybe two, three months, just a little bit to forget about that rhythm, to start from scratch but keep that body memory. That’s the only way that experience kicks in – when you have time to go away for the brain to assimilate it all.

“When the body memory takes over, you can drive like that. And that’s when you can race your best because you can focus on where to brake, how to overtake. You don’t have to focus on how to drive and react because your subsconscious is doing it for you.”

Villeneuve considered the final event of fellow Quebecer Patrick Carpentier, a respected colleague and 27-year racing veteran who, after this weekend’s NAPA 200, will retire to pursue other interests. And in wondering whether Carpentier might yield to the comeback tug that he’s likely to feel, Villeneuve summarized his own life:

“I don’t understand retirement,” he said. “When you have racing in your blood, it doesn’t go away.

“You don’t suddenly become a non-racer. If you’re really passionate about it, you can’t. It’s in your blood until you die.”


Rick

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AUGUST 17, 2011

"Bad Brad" not so bad anymore


WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. — His left racing shoe untied to ease the pressure on his sore ankle, Brad Keselowski limped ever-so-slightly out of the No. 2 Penske Racing hauler and plopped down in a director's chair.

Another day at the track was over, but the pain from his broken ankle and bruised back wasn't getting any better.


Not after two sessions of NASCAR Cup practice over the grueling, 11-turn road course at Watkins Glen.

"I'm here and driving, so it can't be too bad, right?" Keselowski said with a pained smile. "It feels better, but it definitely doesn't feel much better than last weekend. Driving is obviously hell on it, but we're going to tough it out. I can make it work."

Keselowski was injured during a testing session two weeks ago when the brakes on his No. 2 Dodge failed and he slammed head-on into a wall at Road Atlanta that did not have an energy-absorbing barrier. Data showed he was traveling about 100 mph at time of impact.

Since then, he's held off nemesis Kyle Busch to win at Pocono and finished second at Watkins Glen International on Monday — one spot ahead of Busch and just behind winner Marcos Ambrose in a thrilling green-white-checkered finish.

If not for a bump from Ambrose, one of the best road racers in NASCAR, that nudged him aside at the end of the race, Keselowski would have had his third win of the season on a track where he was making just his second Cup start.

"It shows how dedicated he is," crew chief Paul Wolfe said. "I don't think he's going to let anybody down."

A year ago, Keselowski, a third-generation racer, was well on his way to winning the Nationwide Series title. But he was struggling mightily in his first full season in Cup, battling to earn the respect of his fellow drivers.

That's all changed this season.

"I think I'm slowly becoming more competitive, and as you become more competitive you get more respect from your competitors and things just get easier," Keselowski said. "You don't have to fight so many different things. The biggest thing overall is just time.

"I'm getting more respect. I don't know how to quantify that, but I just know that things are getting easier. That makes you look a lot better when things get easier."

Excelling while driving hurt the past two races made the 27-year-old Keselowski seem like a throwback, if his actions on track already hadn't.

"Brad came in a little too worried about all that, concerned that he wasn't going to be getting it (respect), and I think that bothered him," said 18-year Cup veteran Jeff Burton. "Some people come in and don't even worry about it. You know at some point you're going to have to have everybody's respect, but you can't lose sleep over it.

"You've got to go and be who you are. You've got to race the way you know to race. You've got to be true to who you are, and you have to understand that there's consequences to that, good and bad."

Keselowski's hard-driving style has repeatedly made it clear he's no pushover, and there have been consequences.

In just his fifth race at NASCAR's top level, he snatched his first victory at Talladega Superspeedway when Carl Edwards tried to block his pass for the win as they sped to the checkered flag.

Keselowski didn't lift and the contact with Edwards sent the No. 99 Ford airborne and upside down, sheet metal spewing in his wake as the car sailed into the safety fence in a scary crash.

After Keselowski collided again with Edwards at Atlanta, Edwards retaliated by intentionally wrecking Keselowski, sending him airborne. And when Edwards intentionally wrecked "Bad Brad," causing a frightening accident on the last lap of a Nationwide race at Gateway International Raceway last summer, both were placed on probation for the remainder of the season.

Keselowski also angered Kyle Busch in a Nationwide race at Bristol last year while the two were racing for the lead. Busch intentionally spun him and went on to win the race. Keselowski finished 14th.

Busch celebrated that win by mockingly rubbing his eyes like a crying baby and was greeted with a chorus of boos. Keselowski promised revenge over the public address system and had some choice words for Busch the next day during driver introductions for the Cup race.

Now, all of that seems like ancient history as the Cup series heads to his home state of Michigan.

"Last year was a struggle for him," Burton said. "He started out this year it was a struggle for him, but they've rebounded. It took me about a year and a half in this series for it to click, for me to say, 'Hey, I understand it now.' I think that's the time frame he's in.

"He needs to and has let his performance talk for itself," Burton said. "He had his incidents with Carl and Kyle and all that, but really if you go out and really think about Brad, he's never really in the middle of a lot of stuff. I think he's done a good job of stepping away from all that and just saying, 'You know, I'm just going to race and not get caught up in all that.' He's done a much better job with that, in my opinion, this year."

And it shows.

With four races remaining until the 10-race for the Chase for the Sprint Cup title begins, Keselowski is a near shoe-in to be one of the 12 drivers to make the postseason. He sits 14th in the standings and is the only driver ranked from 11th to 20th with two wins. The top 10 drivers in the standings and the two drivers with the most victories in 11th to 20th place earn spots for the Chase.

"Having my name at the top of the wild-card list and with a strong potential to be in the Chase is a great feeling," Keselowski said. "I'm going to look back on that and smile for sure. We're closing in on something that's a huge accomplishment."

Especially for Penske Racing, which would have both of its Dodges trying to wrest the title from five-time champion Jimmie Johnson.

"It's neat to see his maturity. He just continues to grow," said Penske teammate Kurt Busch, who won the Nationwide race at Watkins Glen on Saturday subbing for Keselowski, who wanted to drive but was persuaded not to.

"The "Bad Brad" label is not as bad," Busch said. "He's able to go out there now and compete at a level that's going to get him a Chase berth. That's what we want to see, and right now he's in great position. To see him settle in with Paul Wolfe and where they are as a team, they have that desire and youthful exuberance, and right now they're putting it together."



Rick

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Dodge Motorsports Notes & Quotes – NNS Race Advance – Montreal
Published on August 17, 2011 by Official Release

Dodge Motorsports Notes & Quotes

NASCAR Nationwide Series

NAPA Auto Parts 250 presented by Dodge Circuit Gilles Villeneuve

Saturday, Aug. 20, 2011

ROBBY GORDON, No. 7 SPEED Energy Dodge Challenger R/T Montreal Stats: Starts: 2 Wins: 0 Top Fives: 0 Top 10s: 0 Poles: 0 Laps Led: 17 Average Start: 13.5 Average Finish: 16.0

ALEX TAGLIANI, No. 12 Hot Wheels Dodge Challenger R/T Montreal Stats: Starts: 1 Wins: 0 Top Fives: 0 Top 10s: 0 Poles: 0 Laps Led: 0 Average Start: 23.0 Average Finish: 26.0

JACQUES VILLENEUVE, No. 22 Discount Tire Dodge Challenger R/T Montreal Stats: Starts: 3 Wins: 0 Top Fives: 2 Top 10s: 2 Poles: 0 Laps Led: 5 Average Start: 4.3 Average Finish: 7.7

DODGE DRIVER QUOTES: “Having the chance to run with such a great team that has a strong history of success in every series they’ve ever run in, combined with racing on my home track at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, is a great opportunity and honor. The chance to take part in the NASCAR Nationwide Series race with Penske Racing came about because of a great and long relationship with Dodge and the additional support of Hot Wheels as a sponsor. I hope to make them all proud.” Alex Tagliani, No. 12 Hot Wheels Dodge

“I’m looking forward to the NAPA Auto Parts 200 – it’s always an exciting race but in addition, it obviously has special meaning for me because the Circuit (Gilles Villeneuve) holds my father’s name and I’ll be racing in my hometown. After our good showing at Elkhart Lake, I know the No. 22 Discount Tire/Ruby Tuesday Dodge will be competitive and together with the Penske team, we’ll definitely be turning up with the goal of winning.” Jacques Villeneuve, No 22 Discount Tire Dodge

“It’s always great to head up to Montreal and race in front of the great race fans in Quebec. We’re bringing a brand new SPEED Energy Dodge Challenger to race. I really like Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. We led a bunch of laps there last year and if not for a green-white-checker flag, we probably would have won the race. Some of the best race fans are north of the border and I can’t wait for them to see our SPEED Energy Dodge.” Robby Gordon, No. 7 SPEED Energy Dodge

DODGE NOTES

· Maryeve Default will be making her first career Nationwide start this weekend driving the No. 81 Dodge Challenger.

· Robby Gordon is making his first Nationwide start since Montreal last year. He led 17 laps and finished 14th.

· Quebec natives Alex Tagliani and Jacques Villeneuve will be piloting Dodge Challengers prepared by Penske Racing. Villeneuve is making his second NNS start this season in No. 22 Discount Tire Dodge Challenger. He finished third at Road America.

· Dodge has two Nationwide Series wins this season.

Rick

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August 18, 2011

Kurt Busch not one to back down

BY MIKE BRUDENELL
DETROIT FREE PRESS SPORTS WRITER



Kurt Busch says he respects Jimmie Johnson's record as a NASCAR Sprint Cup driver and five-time series champion. But he stops abruptly there.

At Pocono Raceway a couple weeks ago, Busch and Johnson got into a bumping duel on the track in the final laps of the race and a verbal slinging match later on pit road.

Another episode in the ongoing Busch-Johnson feud, which has seen them exchange barbs and rub bumpers at Sonoma, Chicago and Pocono.

Busch, who drives the No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Dodge for Penske Racing, is no stranger to confrontation, having had run-ins with Jimmy Spencer at Michigan International Speedway and blow-ups with Kevin Harvick and Tony Stewart, among others.

The 2004 Sprint Cup champion makes no apologies for his actions, preferring to race hard and let his results speak for themselves.

Busch is sixth in Cup points and seeking a strong run at MIS on Sunday in the Pure Michigan 400.

"We always like going to Michigan," said Busch, who finished 11th there in the June Cup race and won at MIS in 2003 and 2007. "I'm amped up."

Last season, Busch finished third at Michigan in June but blew an engine in the August race and placed 40th.

And Johnson might want to keep an eye on Busch this weekend in the Irish Hills.

"There's still a flame burning," Busch said this week of his heated battles with Johnson. "I don't think I stepped over the line at Pocono. We were fighting it out to the finish. Jimmie -- he's a five-time champ, and that speaks for itself; he deserves respect for that. I'm not going further."

Busch is coming off a weekend of mixed results at Watkins Glen International, where he substituted for an injured Brad Keselowski in the Nationwide Series race Saturday and won handily from the pole.

On Sunday, he finished 38th in the Cup race at the Glen, his car having brake issues and blowing out the left front tire.

Busch hopes for a shot at victory at MIS. "We have a good chance to win on Sunday," said Busch, who joined Penske in 2006 from Roush Fenway Racing, where he won his series title but left in ugly circumstances. "And I think we are definitely a championship threat. It would be so cool to win a Sprint Cup title for Roger."

This season, Busch has a victory at Sonoma and three poles in a total of five top-five and 12 top-10 finishes. Last year, he ranked 11th in the Chase.

"The synergy on the team is good -- we have a veteran driver and a veteran crew chief in Steve Addington," he said. "We are up to the challenge of going after a championship. It's a great combination."

There's little doubt Busch will push to the front at MIS in Sunday's race. He has been fast all year.

Hendrick Motorsports' Johnson should be near the point, too, although he has yet to win a Cup event at Michigan.

At some stage, Busch and Johnson will come eye to eye on the track.

"I'm looking to get bragging rights at MIS," said Busch. "All drivers want to win in the manufacturers' back yard. It should be a dogfight, whoever we battle."


Rick

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