MONTREAL — Canadian road racer Ron Fellows splashed his way to victory Saturday in the first NASCAR points event run on grooved rain tires, winning when heavy rain and poor visibility forced officials to end the race 26 laps early.
The 48-year-old Ontario driver, a four-time winner in Nationwide Series road-course events, took advantage of Marcos Ambrose’s pit-road speeding penalty to take the lead and had a 33-second advantage over Canadian-born Las Vegan Patrick Carpentier when the NAPA Auto Parts 200 was red-flagged, then called off.
"There’s so much water that you can’t see," Fellows said minutes before the race was called. "Now, with the heavy rain, it’s very dangerous."
After just eight laps on the 2.71-mile, 14-turn Circuit Gilles Villeneuve road course, rain and lightning forced an eight-minute delay. The cars returned to the track with the grooved Goodyear tires, and many also had a single windshield wiper.
"This is ridiculous," early leader Scott Pruett said over his radio.
Grooved tires also were used in 1999 during a Craftsman Truck Series practice on the road course at Watkins Glen. In 1997, the tires were used in practice and qualifying for an exhibition race in Japan.
After averaging about 90 mph on the regular slick tires before the rain arrived, the leaders’ average speed dropped to about 75 mph on the grooved tires.
"That was different," Fellows said. "This is incredible."
Ambrose finished third after leading a race-high 27 laps.
Ron Hornaday was fourth, followed by Boris Said, Carl Edwards, Jason Leffler, Greg Biffle, series leader Clint Bowyer and Scott Wimmer.
Jacques Villeneuve, the former Formula One champion racing on the track named after his late father, had so much trouble seeing out of his Toyota that he ran into the back of another car during the final caution period. Running sixth at the time of the accident, he finished 15th.
Teen star Joey Logano also wrecked during the caution. He finished 16th.
"It was fun, but it’s not good to see guys wrecking under yellow," Edwards said.
Edwards’ car didn’t have a windshield wiper, so he reached out the side window with a squeegee to clean the windshield during the cautions.
• FORMULA ONE — At Budapest, Hungary, Lewis Hamilton took a big step toward winning his third straight Formula One race by claiming the pole position for the Hungarian Grand Prix.
The McLaren driver set a fastest lap of 1 minute, 20.899 seconds for his 10th career pole and second straight at the twisting Hungaroring track. Hamilton was more than two-tenths of a second faster than teammate Heikki Kovalainen to give McLaren a 1-2 front row.
Ferrari’s Felipe Massa will start third ahead of Robert Kubica of BMW Sauber.
The 23-year-old Hamilton, who was fastest through all three practice sessions, is attempting to become the fifth repeat winner and first Briton since Damon Hill 12 years ago to win three consecutive races.