The NASCAR Busch Series’ debut north of the border will give fans in Canada this weekend a chance to witness a talented mix of drivers from around the globe.
Drivers from eight different countries are entered in Saturday’s inaugural NAPA 200 at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve road course in Montreal (3:30 p.m. Eastern, ESPN2), including eight Canadians.
Leading the “home” team this weekend is Montreal’s own Patrick Carpentier, making his NASCAR debut, and road racing ace and fellow Canadian Ron Fellows.
“It is entirely appropriate that NASCAR’s first race be held on a race track named after Canada’s most famous and likely most gifted racing driver this country has ever produced,” said Fellows, who is driving the No. 33 Chevrolet for Kevin Harvick Inc.
“Having watched and idolized Gilles there was always a little extra adrenalin flowing when driving on that circuit.”
The United States’ contingent contains 27 drivers. Busch driver Marcos Ambrose is from Australia while Michel Jourdain Jr., who won at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Champ Car competition in 2003, and Jorge Goeters, both hail from Mexico.
Italy will be represented by Max Papis; Sweden by Nic Johnssen; England by Andy Pilgrim; and Venezuela by Alex Garcia.
In addition, seven Nextel Cup series regulars plan to run in Saturday’s race in Montreal as well as Sunday’s Cup event at Pocono. They are Kevin Harvick, Carl Edwards, David Ragan, Jeff Burton, Greg Biffle, Robby Gordon and David Reutimann.
With the travel to and from Montreal several substitute drivers are on standby to practice and perhaps qualify the Cup drivers’ cars. Auggie Vidovich is on call for Ragan; Brandon Miller will sub for Harvick; Wimmer for Burton; Casey Atwood for Biffle; John Andretti for Edwards; and Mark Green for Reutimann.
Goodyear will have rain tires on hand for both events and NASCAR officials said they will do whatever possible to make sure the events run on the day scheduled. Cars will also feature windshield wipers, defrosters and rear lights.