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Fellows Wins Historic Race in the Rain at Montreal

Ron Fellows
Ron Fellows
MONTREAL, Canada -- "Rain man" Ron Fellows took advantage of pit strategy and an early end to Saturdayís NAPA Auto Parts 200 to score the fourth NASCAR Nationwide Series victory of his career -- and his first at a track other than Watkins Glen International.

In the first NASCAR points race on rain tires -- tires constructed in 1999, no less -- Fellows, a road course specialist and a two-time class winner in the rain at Le Mans, held the lead when NASCAR called the race at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve 25 laps short of its scheduled distance of 74 laps.

Fellows, 48, had pitted early on Lap 22 and gradually worked his way to the front, taking the lead when Jacques Villeneuve pitted on Lap 42.

"That was difficult," Fellows said as he climbed from the No. 5 Chevrolet fielded by Dale Earnhardt Jr.ís JR Motorsports. "Weíve had a little bit of that over in France with the Corvette at Le Mans.

"But this was good fun. Now Iíve got to make Dale Jr. let me run next week (when the NASCAR Nationwide Series goes to Watkins Glen)."

Earnhardt is scheduled to race in the No. 5 Chevy in the NASCAR Nationwide Series next week. Fellows will drive the No. 01 Chevrolet for Dale Earnhardt Inc. in the Sprint Cup race.

Patrick Carpentier, a native of Quebec, finished second for the second straight year at the 2.709-mile road course. Carpentier gained ground after NASCAR red-flagged the race on Lap 8 because of rain and required all cars to change from slicks to rain tires that featured a tread pattern designed to push water away.

"The rain tire -- everybody had questions about it, but it worked," Carpentier said. "I donít know if I would have wanted to be out there on dry tires that were nine years old, but the (rain) tires held up very well."

Third-place finisher Marcos Ambrose led a race-high 27 laps, but a penalty for speeding on pit road deprived him of the chance to win.

"I feel a little jinxed," Ambrose said. "I felt like I dominated the race. I feel really disappointed. I felt like it was our race today."

Ron Hornaday Jr. ran fourth, followed by Boris Said, Carl Edwards, Jason Leffler, Greg Biffle, series points leader Clint Bowyer and Scott Wimmer.

With the skies getting darker and visibility becoming a major problem, NASCAR called a halt to the proceedings after cars started wrecking under caution. Villeneuve was running sixth when he sustained severe damage to the front end of his Toyota, and minutes later, Joey Logano lost a fourth-place finish when he ran into the lapped car of Alex Garcia.

Notes: Legendary Hollywood stunt man Stan Barrett, who hadnít competed in a NASCAR race since 1990, qualified 42nd and finished 39th, 14 positions behind his son, Stanton Barrett. That marked the first time since June 30, 2002 -- when Tim Sauter and sons Jay, Johnny and Tim raced together at the Milwaukee Mile -- that a father and son competed in the same NASCAR Nationwide Series race. Barrett, 65, was the first person to exceed the speed of sound in a land vehicle (739.666 mph in 1979). ... Under the third caution of the race, Edwards drove with one hand, and with the other, used a Swiffer to wipe the rain off his windshield. The No. 60 Ford team opted not to mount a windshield wiper when the crew changed to rain tires under the first caution.

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