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Patrick still sore at Villeneuve over Elkhart Lake incident

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Associated Press
8/17/2012 6:49:08 PM
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MONTREAL -- This could get testy between Jacques Villeneuve and Danica Patrick at the NAPA Auto Parts 200.

The NASCAR Nationwide race will be the first time the two drivers are on the track together since their incident at Elkhart Lake on June 23.

Patrick was in fourth place in the Road America race, looking to equal her NASCAR best finish, when she was bumped from behind and into the gravel by Villeneuve. She ended up 12th.

When asked about it at the time, Patrick told reporters to watch the replay and draw their own conclusions about who was in the wrong.

But when asked about it again on Friday, she said it was no surprise the culprit was Villeneuve, the 1997 Formula One champion who does occasional road races in NASCAR.

"It was disappointing at Elkhart because it was a good race and it would be nice to come home where we ran all day, but it wasn't a surprise," said Patrick. "I actually had in my run notes from watching the race the year before.

"I had a couple of words. One was turn five, first gear, Villeneuve. I had just got into first gear because I went on the inside, because it was the last lap, and I thought 'just don't wheel-hop it.'

"I broke at my correct mark. I wasn't trying to be a hero. I got it down to first gear. I was going to get a good shot off and climb the hill. And that's as far as it went. I was in first gear, turn five, Villeneuve."

Villeneuve is known for making contact with other cars in NASCAR.

In this case, he had been pushed into the grass by Max Papis, then got back on track and bumped the back of Patrick's car as they slowed for the turn. He said at the time he applied the brakes, but the car didn't slow because the tires had been on the grass.

NO FORMULA ONE FOR PATRICK -- Patrick said she once considered taking a crack at driving in Formula One, racing's top level. She spent most of her career in IndyCar before switching to NASCAR for good last year. Patrick is expected to move up to NASCAR's top series, Sprint Cup, next year.

"A long time ago there was an opportunity to test a (F1) car," she said. "Then I made the decision, quite honestly, that I don't want to race Formula One, so why would I go and spent the time it would take to test and put myself in an exposure standpoint where if it didn't go well then people would have judgements.

"I don't think I have any more time in my life to make another career change. I just started the second one now. I'm happy with the decisions I've made. I went through the IndyCar phase and now I'm ready to drive NASCAR for a long time. I'm pretty sure I'll retire from NASCAR."

TRACY AND INDYCAR -- Paul Tracy never said he was through with IndyCar racing, but he sees his racing future in other series now.

The Toronto driver spent 22 years in Champ Car, IndyCar and other open-wheel series. This week, he's driving in the Grand-Am endurance racing series at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.

"Without having driven the new (Indy) car for over a year, it would be very difficult to come in now, a year behind everybody," he said. "And I want to drive in a good team and have a proper program.

"I just don't think that's available now for me, so I haven't focused on trying to find a ride. If (Chip) Ganassi called me up and said 'Come drive the 10 car,' like anyone around the world I'd jump at the opportunity. But I don't think that opportunity is coming. My focus now is trying to continue my racing. I enjoy racing. If I get an opportunity next year, I'd love to be in this (Grand-Am) series full time."

GRAND-AM, CANADIAN TIRE -- Jon Fogarty took pole position for Saturday's Grand-Am endurance race with Memo Rojas second and Alex Tagliani of Lachenaie, Que., third.

Tagliani, driving for Starworks in a team with Ryan Dalziel, hopes that getting experience in a Daytona Prototype car will lead to getting a ride in the Daytona 24-hour race. Tagliani will also be in the Nationwide race.

Tracy qualified seventh for Action Express.

Meanwhile, J.R. Fitzpatrick of Ayr, Ont., won pole position for the NASCAR Canadian Tire series race, just ahead of Andrew Ranger of Roxton Pond, Que.

Ranger has won three of the last four Canadian Tire events at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. Fitzpatrick won in 2009.

D.J. Kennington of St.Thomas, Ont., was third. Former NHL defenceman Patrice Brisebois, now in player development for the Montreal Canadiens, was 25th.

TOURING CARS -- Marc-Antoince Camirand of St. Leonard d'Aston, Que., won the 13-lap Canadian Touring Car Championship race, ahead of Sasha Anis of Brampton, Ont., who won the first race of the weekend on Thursday.

Tampa Bay Lightning defenceman Marc-Andre Bergeron finished 14th.

Danica Patrick (Photo: Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)

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(Photo: Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
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