MONTREAL — As Justin Allgaier jumped out of the car in Victory Lane Saturday, a member of his crew dumped him with cold water.
Fittingly, Allgaier had just dumped Jacques Villeneuve on the final lap to to win the NAPA Auto Parts 200 in Montreal Saturday.
Well, actually he hadn’t. Allgaier had just tapped Villenueve, gotten him a little loose, then passed him so he could take the checkered flag first. If Allgaier had really dumped Villeneuve he wouldn’t have finished third.
Allgaier’s move was standard operating procedure in the NASCAR business. Yet after it was over Villeneuve was crying foul, as if Allgaier had sentries on the top of the bleachers with .22 rifles trying to puncture Villenueve’s tires.
As I watched Villeneuve in the media room complaining about Allgaier’s final move, I considered grabbing my cell phone and calling the authorities. You know, for one of those 72-hour evaluations for someone who may or may not have lost his mind.
How in the world did Villeneuve have an issue with Allgaier when just laps earlier he had crashed Alex Tagliani into a wall with the lack of compassion that would make Hannibal Lecter proud? On a further scale, how did Villeneuve’s claim of racing clean counterbalance with him plowing into Danica Patrick at Road America earlier in the year?
I know we all abhor “points racing,” and one nice thing about a part-time driver like Villeneuve coming into NASCAR’s fray is that he doesn’t have to worry about anything but winning. The only problem with that is that it allows Villeneuve to act like a petulant child on the track when he doesn’t get what he wants.
The worst part about Saturday is that Villenueve soiled his father’s legacy. The damn track, Cirque Gilles Villeneuve, is named after his dad, who died at the age of 32 in 1982 during a qualifying lap in Belgium.
I’ve been trying to be sympathetic. Maybe this is like Maverick in “Top Gun,” with someone struggling to race against a ghost/dad. But Dale Earnhardt Jr. has managed it without lacking a total grasp of reality.
The truth is that as much as Villeneuve claims he’s coming to the track to win, the evidence is he’s here just as much to wreak havoc to protest the fact that the NASCAR audience didn’t want anything to do with him. The former Formula 1 champ showed up in NASCAR in 2007, with an attitude that he seemingly was just too good for NASCAR. Then he couldn’t find any sponsorship and was quickly jettisoned.
So now he gets a couple a couple of road course races a year, largely because no matter how insignificant he is anywhere else he’s still a big deal in Montreal. Because of his dad he’s generally been celebrated in Quebec regardless of his bad behavior.
Hopefully, due to pummeling fellow Quebec-er Tagliani the fans up here will be able to take off their rose-colored glasses and figure out that he’s just not worth their cheers, regardless of nationalist feelings.
I’m really hoping that Villenueve has finally burned all his bridges. Maybe he has with main backer Dodge leaving NASCAR after this season. if he comes back to his dad’s track next year it may be with a car much less competitive.
Never has running around in 17th been more needed for a driver.
Follow Josh Stewart on Twitter @JoshNASCARWWE.