MONTREAL – Foiled a year ago by countryman Jacques Villeneuve, Montreal native Alex Tagliani finally has a NASCAR pole.
Tagliani, a regular in IndyCar, turned a speed of 96.688 mph Friday evening around the 15-turn, 2.7-mile layout to edge Sam Hornish Jr., the pole winner a week ago at Watkins Glen International.
It's Tagliani's first NASCAR pole in four races. Last year, he started on the front row alongside Villeneuve for Penske Racing and finished second in the race to Marcos Ambrose.
"Last year, one thing I wanted to do was finish as high as I could and make sure that I bring the car back to Roger (Penske) in one piece because I didn't want him to look at me bad in the IndyCar races every single weekend," Tagliani said. "I think that was more of an accomplishment than the second place because it's pretty tough here. Turn 1 and turn 2 is the place where you can lose it all.
"I'm approaching the race in the same way," said Tagliani, who's also racing in the Grand-Am Series. "Just try to keep your nose clean the whole race, put yourself in position in the end to contend, and hope you win."
Last year, Villeneuve won the pole and held the lead through the first three of six yellow flags, but with Ambrose just behind going into a chicane on a restart after the fourth caution, he locked his brakes, went wide across the grass infield and T-boned the Aussie when he came out the other side of the turn. Villeneuve finished 27th, two laps off the lead.
Villeneuve will start third this time, giving Penske Racing Dodges the second and third spots. Ironically, Villeneuve will start alongside Danica Patrick, who qualified fourth.
At Road America in June, Villeneuve collided with Patrick on the last lap as the two drivers were battling for a top-five finish, causing Patrick's car to spin out. Villeneuve finished sixth, while Patrick recovered and finished 12th. Last week at Watkins Glen, Patrick was collected on the first turn by Ryan Truex and finished last.
"She's a racer like any other out there," Villeneuve said. "I'm sure she wants to have a good race as well."
Owen Kelly, who was subbing for Kyle Busch in the No. 54 Toyota, was fifth. Michael McDowell, Cole Whitt, Ron Fellows, Billy Johnson, and Brian Scott rounded out the top 10.
Points leader Elliott Sadler was 17th, one spot behind Ricky Stenhouse Jr., who's second in points.