I said two posts below that the four Canadians in Saturday's Nationwide Series race at Road America were good enough to finish in the top ten and that's exactly what happened, with Ron Fellows of Mississauga finishing second behind Reed Sorenson, Jacques Villeneuve of Montreal third, Andrew Ranger of Roxton Pond, Que., sixth and J.R. Fitzpatrick ninth (I originally reported he was tenth but he tells me he was ninth and who am I to argue . . . )
You'll notice that I didn't preface Sorenson's name with the word "winner," because although NASCAR eventually ruled that he won the race, there is some doubt that he did.
The problem with many racing series today is that the sanctioning body tries to stage-manage excitement. Formula One, for instance, makes changes almost weekly in an attempt to make the races more exciting.
NASCAR has this green-white-checkers thingy where the field is lined up after a late-race caution and allowed to go balls-to-the-wall for two flying laps to determine the finishing order. Before the green-white-checkers was introduced, the race would finish under yellow, something purists consider to be more fair.
Anyway, they get three chances to do this. If there's a yellow after the green is thrown for the third time, the field is frozen and the race is over.
Or, it's supposed to be.
Saturday at Road America, Justin Allgaier was leading the race when the last yellow came out. The race was over at that point, or so many people thought, including Allgaier. But his car ran out of fuel and he couldn't complete the lap, handing the lead to . . . who?
Sorenson was behind Allgaier when the yellow came out. Although Allgaier kept going (he still had fuel at this point), Sorenson took his foot off the accelerator and slowed down. Fellows continued at the speed Allgaier was running and passed Sorenson. All sorts of other passing took place back in the pack after the yellow came out as some drivers slowed down and others didn't.
Fellows maintained a fast pace until he caught the pace car and he fell in behind it, with Sorenson following him and other cars falling into line. As the field approached the start/finish line, Allan Bestwick, the TV announcer, declared that NASCAR had ruled Fellows was the leader.
Only after the checkers was it announced that NASCAR was reviewing the situation, likely as the result of a protest, and eventually awarded the win to Sorenson, with Fellows second.
Although it was confusing, it was clear that Fellows won the race. It was pretty obvious that NASCAR opted to award the win to a series regular, rather than a part-timer - not the first time that this sort of thing has happened.
Think Paul Tracy and the 2002 Indianapolis 500.
Fellows was not happy, but adknowledged that there wasn't much he could do. "It is what it is," he said, although TV camera shots of him inside the car immediately following the race's conclusion showed him to be upset.
Later Saturday, Marco Andretti won the IZOD IndyCar Series race at Iowa Speedway, with Tony Kanaan second and Scott Dixon third. James Hinchcliffe of Oakville was ninth and Alex Tagliani of Montreal was 16th.
Earlier Saturday, Germany's Sebastien Vettel won his seventh pole of the so-far eight-race 2011 Formula One season at Valencia, Spain, literally making mincemeat of everybody else in the field except his Red Bull-Renault teammate, Mark Webber.
In the closing moments of knockout qualifying, conducted under gorgeous sunny skies, Vettel went to the pits rather than complete his final lap. This followed by seconds the surprise surrender of his Ferrari rival, Fernando Alonso, who aborted his final flying run when he realized he was not going to be able to match Vettel's speed.
This, then, was Vettel's 22nd career pole and puts him in a good position for tomorrow's European Grand prix (TSN, 7:55 a.m.) So far this season, the defending World Champion has won five races.
The top ten starters for Sunday are: Vettel (1 minute, 36.975 seconds), Webber (1:37:163 on his final flying lap), Lewis Hamilton (McLaren-Mercedes, 1:37:380), Alonso (1:37:454), Felipe Massa (Ferrari, 1:37:535), Jenson Button (McLaren, 1:37:645), Nico Rosbert (Mercedes, 1:38:231), Michael Schumacher (Mercedes, 1:38:240), Nick Heidfeld (Renault, no time), Adrian Sutil (Force India, no time).
Knockout qualifying seemed like a good idea at the time and works for the first two segments. Then we often get what happened in Valencia a few hours ago - two cars didn't go out at all (we don't stand a chance of improving our position, so why bother?) and two other cars, Rosberg and Schumacher, only went out for one lap (to scrub in tires and save a set for Sunday's race).
A Formula One Grand Prix is a show, and the actors have to play their parts. If the top ten format isn't working - and it isn't - go to a top six. People watching, particularly the fans on hand who've paid serious money to be there, deserve better.
By the way, in other open wheel qualifying, Takuma Sato won the first pole of his IZOD IndyCar Series career - on the oval in Iowa! To say he's excited about this would be an understatement.
Danica Patrick will start second and James Hinchcliffe of Oakville will start seventh - a dynamite result for the rookie. That race can be seen tonight at 9 on TSN2.
For a preview of all the other weekend's racing, please see post below.