Carpentier back in Montreal

Patrick Carpentier didn’t need another reason to love his native Quebec, but he got one last year with his auspicious debut in NASCAR’S second-biggest series.

The longtime Las Vegas resident won the pole for the inaugural NASCAR race at Gilles Villeneuve Circuit in Montreal and finished second in the road-course event.

“It’s amazing how much things can change in just a short time,” said Carpentier, 36, who lives in northwest Las Vegas with his wife and two children.

He has taken this week off from his full-time job driving in the Sprint Cup series for Gillett Evernham Motorsports and will return to Montreal to promote the Nationwide event and try to improve on last year’s performance by winning.

Carpentier has two top-five and four top-10 finishes in seven career Nationwide starts.

In the Cup series, he is 36th in points with one pole and a best finish of 14th but has failed to qualify for three races.

Former Cup champion Terry Labonte will sub in Carpentier’s No. 10 Dodge in the Cup series this weekend in Long Pond, Pa.

Carpentier, a former open-wheel driver, is expected to return to the Cup series for the Aug. 10 road-course race at Watkins Glen, N.Y. …

Alex Tagliani, another former open-wheel driver and Quebec native living in Las Vegas, returns to Montreal to drive Saturday in the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series, in which he won his first stock-car race Saturday in Edmonton, Alberta.

• BULLRING OPENS — After a monthlong hiatus, racing in the NASCAR All-American Series returns Saturday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway’s Bullring.

Former track champion Scott Gafforini has a 65-point lead over Jeff Connors in the Super Late Models division with six races remaining. Connors leads teammate Robert Ewing by one point.

The Super Late Models and Late Models divisions will compete together in two 33-lap features during Keith Danser Kids Candy Toss night, which will include exhibition wheelstands by Ed “The Outlaw” Jones in a 100 mph replica of a stagecoach. …

Other series points leaders are Branden Giannini (Late Models), Dow Woerner (Modifieds), Phil Goodwin (Chargers), Justin Johnson (Thunder Roadsters), Jeremiah Wagner (Legends Pro), Frank McCourt (Legends Masters), Jack Madrid (Legends Semi Pro), Fred Harding (Bombers), Jacob Tilton (Bandolero Bandits) and Patrick O’Hanley (Bandolero Young Guns).

Spectator gates will open at 5 p.m., with featured racing scheduled to begin at 7.

• STRIP’S ‘TOP DOG’ — The speedway will pay $1,000 to the fastest street-legal car at the dragstrip tonight as a new feature in the track’s program to provide a controlled alternative to illegal street racing.

Forty cars exceeded 115 mph in the quarter-mile at two previous Midnight Mayhem events to qualify for tonight’s run-off. It will take place in conjunction with the regular Mayhem program.

• DESERT RACING — The annual Midnight Special night race in the Southern Nevada Off Road Enthusiasts series is Aug. 9 and begins just south of Las Vegas. For more information, call 736-6355 or visit …

Southern Nevada racers lead the standings in their respective divisions midway through the Championship Off Road Racing season. Rob MacCachren is first in Pro 2 and Pro Buggy, and Menzies Motorsports teammate Bryan Freeman is first in Single Buggy with six wins in seven races.

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