Turner Motorsports called on Canadian road course specialist Alex Tagliani to drive its No. 30 Chevrolet as the NASCAR Nationwide Series headed north of the border for Saturday’s NAPA Auto Parts 200 at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal. The driver qualified second and finished second in the same race a year ago, and in 2012, he’s off to a start that has, so far, bettered that effort from a year ago. He claimed the pole during qualifying on Friday with a 100.865-second lap.
“I’m always proud to come back to Montreal and to be able to race on this fantastic road course named after one of my all-time racing heroes, Gilles Villeneuve,” Tagliani said. “I really wanted to race here again, so when the opportunity presented itself with Turner Motorsports and we were no longer scheduled to be overseas, I was pretty excited. In Formula Atlantic, I won here from the pole and also had a pole in Indy Car. Montreal has been good to me to date and I’m hoping to better my race history here. Having a competitive car to challenge for the win is all I can wish for.”
Tagliani will be joined on the front row by Penske Racing driver Sam Hornish Jr., who posted a 100.905-second lap to grab the second starting spot.
“I feel good about our progression, how we’ve been,” Hornish said. “The good thing is that we’ve had good reliability out of our Dodge engines and out of our race cars. I’ve felt really good about the road course testing that we’ve done.”
Both Penske Racing drivers qualified in the top-three, as Jacques Villeneuve, driving the No. 22 Penske Dodge normally driven by Sprint Cup regular Brad Keselowski, qualified third at the track named for his late father.
Danica Patrick was the highest qualifier among the three JR Motorsports drivers, taking the fourth spot on the starting grid. Her teammates Cole Whitt and Ron Fellows also qualified in the top-10 in seventh and eighth.
Rounding out the top-five on Friday was Owen Kelly, who was on hand as a fill-in for Kyle Busch in the No. 54 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota. Busch was at Michigan International Speedway on Friday, qualifying his Sprint Cup Series car. When he arrives in Montreal to race his Nationwide entry, he’ll have to start from the back because of the driver change.
Michael McDowell qualified sixth in the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota. Rounding out the top-10 in qualifying were Billy Johnson, driving the No. 60 for Roush Fenway Racing, in ninth and series regular Brian Scott in 10th.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR
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