MONTREAL – Alex Tagliani is venturing away from the IZOD IndyCar Series this weekend for what he hopes is a successful trip home to Canada.
Tagliani will be racing this weekend at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in both the NASCAR Nationwide Series and the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series Daytona Prototype division.
But Tagliani isn’t just driving one Daytona Prototype entry during Saturday’s event, he’s co-driving two entries for Starworks Motorsports.
It’s going to be a busy weekend for Tagliani to say the least.
“It will be my first opportunity to drive a DP (Daytona Prototype) car, so I asked a bunch of questions to the guys that have driven those type of cars, and I’ve looked at the schedule,” said Tagliani. “There is quite a bit of track time as well to get used to it. But mainly the role is to do a good job for the team. I know there is a championship at stake, and I’ll try to support Ryan (Dalziel) the best I can, and I’ll try to support Ryan the best I can, and then take over the car from Alex (Popow).
“I guess, my size, I fit perfectly in both cars without too much to do. So with what’s been happening lately with Starworks, they decided to put me in the car, in both cars for the race, so I’m looking forward to it.”
Perhaps the bigger target this weekend for Tagliani is the NASCAR Nationwide event held on the same day, an event where he finished second last year while driving for Roger Penske.
“Last year I finished second, so I have pretty high hopes, but you never know,” said Tagliani, who will be driving the No. 30 Chevrolet for Turner Motorsports this year. “This race is pretty tough. Turn one and two are always the determining factors in this particular race over the years. But I’m hoping with the car and the team that I have at Turner Motorsports we’ll be able to do a good job.”
Tagliani never planned to run both races on Saturday, but when the opportunity presented itself he certainly wasn’t going to turn it down.
You see, most IZOD IndyCar Series drivers and teams will be busy this weekend testing at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway. That includes Sebastien Bourdais, one of the normal Starworks Motosports drivers, who will be testing his Dragon Racing IndyCar entry.
Tagliani, however, can’t make it to the test. That opened the door for him to race this weekend in Montreal.
“Bourdais was not able to make it in Montreal because he’s testing in Sonoma with pretty much every other team in IndyCar, but I’m not making that test, so I was available,” said Tagliani. “The team started to register me for both cars. But it happened pretty late.”
Not that long ago Tagliani would have had a big advantage racing at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve over the NASCAR crowd, but he says they are catching up quickly.
“More and more, the NASCAR guys are learning the track,” Tagliani said. “They get their cars started to what they like to drive, and they’re very competitive now. It’s not as clear as before, because we knew the track very well, and we had a little advantage. When the race starts because of these restarts and the way the track is configured, it’s very difficult to know who is going to make it out of there until the last lap, basically.”
Could Tagliani end up in victory lane twice on Saturday at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve? It isn’t out of the question.