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No "slip slidin' away" in the rain at Montreal

Chris Symeon, Motorsports Editor

The Inside Line Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - "Slip slidin' away, slip slidin' away. You know the nearer your destination, the more you're slip slidin' away." Luckily for Goodyear and NASCAR, using rain tires to run in the rain during Saturday's NAPA Auto Parts 200 at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal didn't echo the opening lyrics from Paul Simon's 1977 hit release.

While it was sunny in Montreal earlier in the afternoon, threatening weather moved into the area prior to the start of the race. Scott Pruett led the first seven laps before rain fell on the track.

NASCAR halted the race as teams came down pit road to prepare their cars for the change in weather. The sanctioning body had originally planned three minutes for teams to put on rain tires, as well as to install windshield wipers, rear brake lights and defoggers on their cars. But NASCAR extended the delay to eight minutes, and then teams returned on the rain-drenched track.

Goodyear earned some respect from competitors, teams and fans for having a dependable rain tire.
It was the first time NASCAR had run a national series points race in wet conditions, and it ended up being a pretty good event for the Canadian fans who braved the inclement weather. NASCAR first experimented with rain tires during a 1997 exhibition race in Japan.

Six days after their tire fiasco in Indianapolis, Goodyear earned back some respect from competitors, teams and fans for having a dependable rain tire. NASCAR regulars Carl Edwards, Clint Bowyer, Ron Hornaday, Jr. and Steve Wallace had never competed in the rain until Montreal, but all four drivers handled the conditions well enough to score a Top-10 finish.

After teams bolted on rain tires, it didn't turn out to be a caution-filled race, as only a couple of drivers went off the course. Justin Marks spun on Lap 22, and Max Papis wrecked on Lap 30.

When weather conditions turned for the worse on Lap 47, NASCAR displayed the fourth and final caution. Jacques Villeneuve and Joey Logano were running in the top-10 during the caution, but both drivers crashed when they hit other competitors. Villeneuve, Logano and other drivers complained they could not see because of the rain. As a result, NASCAR displayed the red flag and then eventually called the race, giving Canadian Ron Fellows the victory.

Perhaps NASCAR should have halted the race a little sooner for safety reasons.

Nonetheless, the tire maker brought a reliable rain tire to Montreal, while the sanctioning body made the right decision to use it for the first time in a points event.

Kudos to Goodyear and NASCAR for preventing the cars from "slip slidin' away" in rainy Montreal.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Chris Symeon at csymeon@sportsnetwork.com.

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