Alex Tagliani has raced a number of different cars and at tracks all around the world - But he has yet to run a oval in the national divisions of NASCAR.
Alex Tagliani has impressed in the handful of NASCAR road course races he's run on the Xfinity and Truck side. In seven starts between the two series, he's scored three poles, three top fives, three top tens, and also led 44 laps.
Working with Penske though - seriously, I would race Xfinity for the rest of my career if I could
“I just really enjoyed that car, the challenge and being with the team,” Tagliani said. I was able to make the highlight reel, going from 28th to 2nd (in the final two laps at Road America). I was happy to be able to rock the boat there, turn some heads but I'm also realistic. I'm Canadian and I don't see too many Canadians in NASCAR racing.
Could NASCAR replace Indy?
Tagliani plans to run some more races for Penske and enjoyed the experience so much, that he would even consider putting his open-wheel career on hold to run a full-time on the Xfinity side.
"You may think, Xfinity is a step below Sprint Cup, but I would race it full-time for the next ten years if I had that chance with Penske. I really enjoyed the car, the challenge and the team. It's a highlight of my career to be able to work with them and jump in that car and contribute to a championship for Roger (Penske).
"Could the Indy 500 be replaced by the Daytona 500 if I had to give up the Indy 500 to do full-time NASCAR? Maybe, I don't know. Working with Penske though - seriously, I would race Xfinity for the rest of my career if I could. That car and that team was so nice to work with. It was kind of like the dream environment. They are like the Ferrari of Formula 1 or Penske/Ganassi in IndyCar.
Desire to run ovals and prove himself
Tagliani is one of those versatile racers, as you may have read about in my Traveling Man piece on the current state of his career. Stock cars, single seaters, sports cars, touring cars - He's tried it all. One thing he has yet to do is run a NASCAR race on one of the sport's many ovals.
"I would really like to find a way to do some ovals, even in the Truck Series," he explained. "If I can get that chance and make the same statement I do when I run road courses, maybe they're going to say 'well this freaking guy can drive freaking ovals.'
"I blew up everybody by six tenths in that Truck race for Keselowski and true road racers look at that and we're shocked. NASCAR people expect that though, they think it's normal! It's not that easy! It was on a freaking ragged edge. If I can go and maybe do something like that on the ovals, then they'd be impressed."
Giving young Canadians a shot
Tagliani has his a foothold in a lesser known division of NASCAR already, the Canadian Tire Series, formally known as CASCAR. He has 26 starts with one victory and over 350 laps led, but also runs his own team, giving young Canadians a shot in a NASCAR-sanctioned series.
“It’s rewarding to know that you can make someone very happy," he said of Pier-Luc Ouellete, who made his debut earlier this year. "He was so excited and so thankful that I gave him that dream weekend to be a paid driver in NASCAR and go to races for a bigger team and has the cool shirts and the fire suits.
“When he showed up at the track, he called me to say that his name was on the suit. So I told him, 'Unless you want one that says Tagliani Autosport, I can put a patch on it.' But he said he was just happy to have the name on the suit.
“It was very nice for me to see how happy I could make someone.”