Amanda Vincent, NASCAR Correspondent
Alex Tagliani may not have much experience when it comes to racing in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, but that didn't deter him from turning a 100.865-second lap in the No. 30 Turner Motorsports Chevrolet at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal on Friday to claim the pole starting spot for Saturday's NAPA Auto Parts 200. It's the Canadian's first series pole after claiming the second starting spot a year ago. The race on Saturday will be his fourth-career Nationwide start and his third at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in the series.
"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."
Sam Hornish Jr. turned in a 100.905-second lap in the No. 12 Penske Racing Dodge to take the other front row spot on the starting grid for his first race at the track.
"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.”
Another Canadian, Jacques Villeneuve, qualified the No. 22 Penske Racing Dodge third with a lap time of 100.922 seconds at the track named for his late father, giving Penske Racing two of the top-three starting spots.
The 44 drivers who made qualifying attempts were sent out onto the track in groups of five or six to make qualifying runs. Tagliani went out with group seven and claimed the provisional pole with a time that none of the five drivers in group eight were able to top, despite being faster than Tagliani in practice. Both Hornish and Villeneuve were among the five drivers in group eight.
Another driver from group seven, Danica Patrick in the No. 7 JR Motorsports Chevrolet qualified fourth to start next to Villeneuve on the second row.
Owen Kelly rounded out the top-five in qualifying, filling in behind the wheel of the No. 54 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota. Car owner Kyle Busch is expected to race the car on Saturday. He missed qualifying in Montreal, as he was tending to Sprint Cup Series duties at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Mich. As a result, Busch will have to start the race from the back, despite the top-five qualifying run posted by Kelly.
Qualifying sixth through 10th were Michael McDowell in the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, Cole Whitt in the No. 88 JR Motorsports Chevrolet, Ron Fellows in the No. 5 JR Motorsports Chevrolet, Billy Johnson in the No. 60 Roush Fenway Racing Ford and Brian Scott in the No. 11 Joe Gibbs. Racing Toyota.
Ryan Ellis was the lone driver who failed to make the cut, and therefore, won't race on Saturday.