MONTREAL (AP) - Max Papis may no longer be running a full Sprint Cup schedule, but he still gets stoked when things go right in whatever he's driving.
After topping the speed charts in Happy Hour for Sunday's Nationwide race, Papis qualified ninth in Kevin Harvick's Chevrolet and was ecstatic because he knew he had a good ride for his first Nationwide race of the year.
``It's good for the morale,'' said Papis, who has one top-10 in five starts in NASCAR's truck series and not much to show in 18 Cup starts for Germain Racing. ``I even told myself, `When you're in a good car, you do your best and results will come.' ``
It did on Sunday. Papis ran up front all afternoon at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve and passed eventual winner Boris Said entering the final chicane on the tricky 14-turn layout. Unfortunately, Papis swung too wide and Said beat him to the line by a nose in the fifth-closest finish in series history - .012 seconds.
``We had a strong race car, but it's not a win,'' Papis said. ``It's maybe the first time that I had a chance to really sit in a car that had a legitimate chance to win and we came down to the last corner.''
This season in Cup, Papis has had two blown engines, suffered overheating problems in three races, and also has a handful of start-and-parks. He has plans to drive the truck series next year.
The 40-year-old Italian, an accomplished road racer, won three times in the former CART Series and has won the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona. He's made 35 Cup starts in three years. His best finish this year was 22nd at Texas and on the road course at Watkins Glen.
``I'm pretty proud. I came a long way,'' Papis said. ``When I came here the first time a couple of years ago, I was definitely a fish out of water. Now, I feel I've improved tremendously. It's like Christmas four months early for me.''
ROAD COURSE RINGERS: The NASCAR Nationwide race at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve on Sunday had a strong group road-course talent in Marcos Ambrose, Robby Gordon, Boris Said, and Max Papis, along with Canadians Ron Fellows, Jacques Villeneuve, Patrick Carpentier, J.R. Fitzpatrick and Andrew Ranger.
Series leader Brad Keselowski is intent on joining them. After finishing last in his first series road race at Mexico City in 2007, Keselowski's average finish in the next 12 road races was 6.9, including consecutive career-best fourth-place efforts at Road America and Watkins Glen earlier this summer.
He made it three straight fourths on Sunday after starting eighth in the crash-filled Nationwide race in Montreal.
``It takes a little bit of experience,'' said Keselowski, fifth last year at Montreal. ``Experience is going to get you farther than anything else, just doing it yourself. I can watch Shaquille O'Neal dunk all day long, but I don't think I'm going to be able to dunk. It takes a little bit of experience, and I think I can get there.''
RANGER'S ROOST: Rising French Canadian driver Andrew Ranger started from the pole and won the NAPA Auto Pro 100 in the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series on Sunday at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.
After surviving an early challenge from series points leader JR Fitzpatrick, who had to retire with a broken axle, Ranger beat Jason Bowles on a restart with two laps to go and had a lead of several car-lengths entering the final lap on the 14-turn road course.
Bowles made one final charge heading into the 10th turn, a hairpin right-hander, blatantly slamming the right rear of Ranger's No. 27 Dodge and gaining the lead.
The 23-year-old Ranger, who won the series championship in 2007 as a rookie and in 2009, recovered quickly. He drove up to the back bumper of Bowles' No. 11 Dodge, spun him into the outside wall entering the final two turns, and cruised to the victory over Don Thompson Jr.
``The restarts were really tough on me. I was lucky to get through the first corner,'' said Ranger, a native of Roxton Pond, Quebec. ``My car was just all over the place. To see the white flag, I feel really nervous, trying not to make a mistake. We drove into the hairpin and he came really hard. He passed me, but it's my town.
``I was actually really (peeved) and came down to the chicane,'' Ranger said. ``I pushed him a little bit. I don't know what happened. I hit him a little bit, yeah.''
Ranger poked his left arm out his window in triumph after crossing the finish line and did a smoky burnout to the delight of the Canadian fans, who roared their approval.
Bowles finished 21st, one spot behind former Montreal Canadiens defenseman Patrice Brisebois and two behind Fitzpatrick.
SPARK PLUGS: None of the first three Nationwide winners at Montreal - Kevin Harvick, Ron Fellows and Carl Edwards - dominated enough to score a perfect driver rating of 150.0. At both Road America and Watkins Glen this year, wins were coupled by a perfect rating: Edwards at Road America and Ambrose at Watkins Glen ... Ambrose led the most laps in each of the first three Nationwide races at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve - 37 in 2007, 27 in 2008, and 60 last year. He finished seventh, third, and second, respectively ... Two Nationwide road races have ended with a last-lap pass - Carl Edwards passed Marcos Ambrose on the last turn at Montreal last August and Dale Earnhardt Jr. passed Ron Fellows on the last lap at Watkins Glen in June 1999 ... Ron Fellows made his 18th road-course start in the series, the most of any driver in Sunday's lineup ... 70-year-old retired Canadian general Lewis MacKenzie finished 15th among 30 drivers in the Formula Tour 1600 race. Driver and television commentator Didier Schraenen finished eighth but suffered a heart attack afterward and was rushed to a hospital for emergency surgery. The 51-year-old Schraenen, a three-time Canadian F1600 champion and a racing analyst on the RDS all-sports network, was reported in stable condition.

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