Saturday, August 28, 2010
Marcos Ambrose wins Montreal pole
MONTREAL -- Marcos Ambrose again took care of business in Nationwide qualifying at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. All he has to do now is finally take advantage of starting up front at the tricky 14-turn layout.
Ambrose turned a fast lap of 97.079 mph Saturday to edge Canadian star Jacques Villeneuve's 96.924 mph and take the pole for Sunday's Nationwide Series race.
"I've led more laps here than anybody else and haven't been to Victory Lane," said Ambrose, who won the pole a year ago, led 60 of 76 laps over the 2.7-mile circuit, and was passed by Carl Edwards in the final turn. "The race tomorrow could go any way. This race is hard on equipment, hard on tempers."
Joey Logano, who finished second to Ambrose at Watkins Glen three weeks ago, qualified third at 96.650 mph, while defending race winner Carl Edwards was fourth at 96.344 mph. Series points leader Brad Keselowski will start eighth.
Qualifying was divided into eight groups, with assignments based on practice times from the first session, which Villeneuve and Edwards topped with identical speeds. Villeneuve and Ambrose kept leapfrogging one another on each of their three laps before Ambrose finally won.
Villeneuve, who also qualified second at Road America in mid-June, thought he might have a shot at the top spot, and so did his fans, who cheered loudly before Ambrose spoiled the celebration.
"Of course, it's frustrating," said Villeneuve, a former champion in Formula One and winner of the 1995 Indy 500. "To be on the front row with him is fantastic, though."
Logano made the trip north on a rare off weekend for Sprint Cup, and he made the most of it despite going off course and scaring some wildlife more than once in his three qualifying laps.
"I'm pretty pumped up," Logano said. "... I was trying to get acclimated to this track again. Our first lap was terrible. I went off the racetrack and woke up all the groundhogs. I just need a little bit more to get where these guys go. Maybe when they start beating their fenders I'll be ready to go."
It's been three years since Robby Gordon made the inaugural Nationwide race here one that won't soon be forgotten. He's back to make amends for what happened at the end of the 2007 race, and he had to make the field on time. Despite sliding hard and smoking the tires during his first qualifying lap, he rallied and will start 16th.
"It looks like I caught a brake hose," said Gordon, who will be making his first Nationwide start of the year. "It's going to be interesting. I'm hugely disappointed. One-day show it's tough. You've got to be on it."
Gordon's run-in with Ambrose made the inaugural Nationwide event in Montreal a memorable one. Gordon passed Ambrose to take the lead late in the race, and Ambrose came right back and spun Gordon at the same time a caution was called for an accident far behind them.
Gordon, who didn't get right back in line, thought he should have been second on the restart. Instead, NASCAR ruled he was 13th because he had not maintained reasonable speed after his spin. Gordon refused to drop back in the field, held second on the restart, and then spun Ambrose to deny the affable Aussie the win.
Gordon continued on and was the first driver to cross the finish line, then did a big burnout to celebrate a victory that actually went to Kevin Harvick. NASCAR disqualified Gordon for disobeying a black flag and also suspended him for the next day's Sprint Cup Series race at Pocono.
Ambrose's smile at the post-qualifying news conference disappeared briefly as he prepared to leave.
"Where's Robby, by the way?" he asked, then smiled again when told Gordon would start in the eighth row. "Great."