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And why isn't Montreal's picturesque Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, in the heart of the city of four million, a NASCAR Sprint Cup tour event?

Now this is the kind of weather NASCAR's fans in Montreal deserve for Sunday's race (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

   By Mike Mulhern

   Montreal's beautiful Circuit Gilles Villeneuve needs to be a full NASCAR Sprint Cup tour stop. Period.
   No hemming and hawing.
   Get 'er done.
   It would be very good for the sport, which can't afford to miss golden marketing opportunities like this.
    "A Sprint Cup race? I always say yes," Carl Edwards, one of NASCAR's top road racers now, Montreal winner last summer, and winner at Road America in June, says. "The fan presence is there...the track and the city are just fun to go to -- It is a fun place to stay, and a fun track to race.
    "The problem is the politics and the money and the contracts, all those things."
   But if it were just for the fans -- which this sport really ought to be, at heart --  Edwards says "the Canadian fan base reminds me of Kentucky or Iowa -- Those fan bases love stock car racing."
   The Montreal crowd, he says, has "just so much energy...
   "It would be a lot of fun to bring Sprint Cup. 
   "I was standing in victory lane last year, and the crowd was singing in unison and cheering. I had never seen anything like it. 
   "If you had guys like Tony Stewart and Dale Earnhardt Jr. or Richard Petty walking around, the fans would be very excited. I don't think you could build enough seats.
    "If we ever did have an international race date on the (Cup) schedule, that track could do it."


   Looks a little like that last corner at Sonoma....only more picturesque. (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

   Sunday's rematch among Marcos Ambrose, Edwards and Robby Gordon at the 2.7-mile, 14-turn world-class road course on the island park in the middle of the French-Canadian city of some four million (200 miles, 2:30 pm ET) should be interesting, to say the least, if the event's three-race history as a Nationwide tour event is any preview.
   Remember the first one: Gordon claimed he won, after knocking Ambrose out of the way lap, in a bump-and-run. Gordon in turn got deliberately spun under the yellow, and NASCAR rules -- controversially -- that he lost his lead by not maintaining speed under the caution. Tortured logic, yes. And Gordon didn't take it well, putting on a temper-tantrum, while NASCAR officials ruled Kevin Harvick the winner.
   Then in 2008 rain turned the track so sloshy, despite Goodyear's rain tires, that the race was called short. Ambrose again appeared the man on the way to victory, only to get slapped with a pit road penalty.
   And last August Ambrose was leading late, again, only to miss a corner the last lap, giving the win to Edwards, in a dramatic finish. "...the last corner of the race," Ambrose frets.
   If these guys can do this, to a nice crowd of some 65,000 each time, imagine what a Cup event could do.
   NASCAR is missing a major marketing opportunity by not making this world class city a Cup series stop.
   And why is not clear.
   Maybe NASCAR executives are simply afraid of getting shown up by the Formula One crowd, that takes over the track in June.
   Whatever, Ambrose -- whose road racing talents are so considerable that even Jeff Gordon has been impressed -- vows "this time, no dramas."
   Ambrose, remember, had NASCAR's Sonoma Cup tour stop won, going away, until he stalled while leading and trying to conserve gas in June.
   Ambrose has won three straight Nationwide events at Watkins Glen, about five hours to the southeast of Montreal.
   But it was Edwards who has become one of stock car racing's top road racers too. He won the Nationwide stop at Road America in June, and he was a contender at the Glen in the Cup event.


   So why wouldn't NASCAR's sponsors want to market in the heart of a city of four million, like Montreal? (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

   The Montreal course -- and the weather -- has been so new to NASCAR men that each event on the flat track is a different experience
   And Edwards predicts "the race is going to be different this year."
   First: the weather should be good. Montreal, like the Glen, is notorious for fickle summer weather. Finding a dry month is, well, not easy; they're all equally wet, historically. That last lap last year, Edwards and Ambrose were fighting a 'wet' track, not quite dry, but at least not soggy. "If it is dry, it will be a different race," Edwards says. "Montreal is heavy braking and very sharp corners. That is where  guys like Jacques Villeneuve can really shine."
   Second: Ambrose is even more fired up, if that's possible. He's just announced he's leaving this team at the end of the season and moving from the Toyota camp over to the Ford camp, with Richard Petty, George Gillett and Jack Roush, which will make him an Edwards' 'teammate' on the Cup side.
   Third: Jacques Villeneuve. The son of the late F1 racer for whom the course is named has been trying to crack into NASCAR for a couple of years. And Villeneuve won the Formula One championship in 1997. If he wants to make anything big happen in NASCAR, now is the moment to start.
   And fourth: Robby Gordon, back at Montreal....and increasingly desperate to get his slumping NASCAR operation back on track. It's been a ragged season for him on the Cup side, but he came within a hair of winning at Sonoma. Gordon is probably the best pure road racer in NASCAR.
    Can Edwards win again? Last year's climax: "I was doing everything I could to get up to Marcos, and I just couldn't get to him.
   "I ducked out in the last corner and made a last-ditch effort to rattle him a little...and he missed the entrance into the turn. And I just couldn't believe we passed him."

   Like to see some driver 'straighten' this esse. Maybe Tony Stewart? (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

   The Robby Gordon angle, Edwards concedes, is quite a twist, particularly considering how aggressive and volatile both Gordon and Ambrose are.
   "If they could renew that rivalry, that would be good for me," Edwards says.
    "Those two guys are going to be so fast -- There is something they can do with the brakes that I have not learned yet. They can break 50 feet deeper than I can at every track we go to."
    Now the only guy needed for a really hot weekend would be Kyle Busch, an excellent road racer himself, but running Trucks in Chicago instead of Nationwide in Montreal

   But Edwards, who is still looking for his first Cup tour win of the season, and is on the rebound on that side of the fence, points to Ambrose as the man to beat:
   "We beat Villeneuve and Ron Fellows at Road America, and that did a lot for my confidence, and for our team's confidence," Edwards says.
   "I spent a lot of time with Marcos leading up to that (Montreal) race (last year), to prepare for the Daytona prototype race....I crashed us out in warm-up, which is probably my most embarrassing moment at a track.
   "But I learned a lot about how good Marcos is by testing with him. He is a spectacular driver. Not just good, he is possibly the best road racer in the world.
    "It was surprising I was able to get him in that last corner. I guarantee you he will not make the same mistake again."


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    About time for Carl Edwards to be doing more victory backflips. Maybe Sunday afternoon again in Montreal (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)


So far, Montreal's picturesque Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, has yet to disappoint this race fan and I look forward to another great race Sunday. I would love to see the Sprint Cup go international not only in Canada but in Mexico as well, can you say Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez.

i went to the mexico city

i went to the mexico city races, and that was a very professionally run operation, smooth and crisp. and the weather was fine, the city really neat. i was very disappointed that nascar and its various sponsors didnt put together better marketing and promotions. like souvenir row was almost deserted. the course wasn't great, wasn't bad. good action.

Race in canada

Lets move a race close a track and layoff more U.S. citizens and send more money out of the country and pay Canada for the rights to broadcast it back to the states.Then we can give the track owner who lost his date a goverment bailout and raise taxes to pay for it and then complain about the trade deficit.

a little testy here, aren't

a little testy here, aren't we lol?
part of my deal in all this is that this 36-race limit is artificial -- it has nothing to do with giving the teams and drivers time off, it has all to do with what has already been sold to the tv networks....and not what is necessarily the best for the sport.
adding montreal to the sprint cup series would be a good marketing move, i would think, particularly with the long-time affinity of canadians for daytona in february. so how to do it? i'm not suggesting taking a race from somewhere else.
uh, what did i miss -- that line about paying canada (tsn?) for the rights to broadcast it back to the states? who does have those tv rights, come to think of it?

NASCAR in Montreal

The most likely reason NASCAR Sprint Cup doesn't race at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is that neither the TV announcers nor fans can correctly pronounce its name.

not bad, not bad! i have

not bad, not bad! i have problems with that too lol.
but seriously there is no reason kyle busch is racing trucks/with indycars in joliet instead of racing cup in montreal...and other drivers too.
missed marketing, in my book, all the way around.
politics? maybe bruton and jim france should just buy the racing rights to that track and take it over themselves....

Mike, you have it wrong.

Mike, Robby Gordon was spun out under caution by Ambrose first. Then following the caution, THAT is when he spun Ambrose out. Marcos started it and Robby finished it.

ah, yes....now i

ah, yes....now i remember....wouldn't that have been a great finish to a Montreal Cup race?

Sprint Cup Date!!

Nascar has enough road races now. They probably could get rid of them and not too many fans would be upset. Raod racing sucks.

well, generally i might agree

well, generally i might agree with you...but it's not an issue that can't be fixed. and after the madness at sonoma in june, there can be some exciting road races.. and that finish at montreal wasn't that bad...nascar and its top drivers just need to go to these particular road courses and add passing zones...and not just out-braking zones.....

Because It's Not Worth It

It's a road course, and as such has no place in NASCAR. The Canadian demographic is sufficiently served by Pocono, New Hampshire, and Michigan. Montreal is not that great a city.

Sorry Mike, but there's no reason for NASCAR to race there.

Agree more road coarses

I agree with you. Have been a fan for years and another road coarse may break up the monotany of all the new cookie cutter tracks with no personality that are currently ruining what I became to live in the late 70's and early to mid 80's remember the races at Riverside before Daytona and why North Wilkesboro isn't on the schedule is a debocle

Road Courses Are Bad Racetracks

Adding another road race doesn't break up anything beyond adding another bad racetrack (a track that gets in the way of passing, breeds crashes, and has no competitive depth) to the series. The intermediate tracks haven't harmed anything - they have more positional passing than the short tracks and generally aren't the demolition derbies those tracks are.

"Why North Wilkesboro isn't on the schedule is a debacle." No, it's the reality that Wilkes is a relic in a dead racing demographic.

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