MONTREAL – Circuit Gilles Villeneuve owed Marcos Ambrose a victory and finally paid up.

The Australian had led more laps than any other driver in the first four editions of Montreal’s NASCAR Nationwide event and he finally cashed in Saturday, taking the lead on a restart with nine laps to go and holding off crowd favorite Alex Tagliani to take the checkered flag in the NAPA Auto Parts 200.

Ambrose had started at the back because he missed the pre-race drivers meeting for the NASCAR Nationwide event. Then he survived a collision with 1997 Formula One champion Jacques Villeneuve halfway through the race that knocked him back to 28th place.

“I kept my head down, stayed calm, ticked off some good laps and made some aggressive passes,” Ambrose said. “It’s been a great day.

“I feel like I passed 400 cars out there. I finally got to the front when it counted. I’ve come close here. I’ve led more laps than anyone, but today I was able to close the deal.”

Ambrose’s first Nationwide win of the year came on the heels of his first Sprint Cup victory, Monday at Watkins Glen.

Tagliani crossed 1.112 seconds back and Michael McDowell was third, Steve Wallace fourth and J.R. Fitzpatrick fifth. Danica Patrick finished 24th in her first NASCAR road race.

NASCAR announced after the race that the right rear spring on Ambrose’s car would be examined at its research and development center in Charlotte, N.C., on Tuesday. A spokesman didn’t say what officials were looking for but said the victory would not be taken away regardless of what is found.

Canadians Tagliani and Villeneuve, teammates on the Penske team for the weekend, started from the front row but neither was able to hold back Ambrose’s Stanley Ford.

Villeneuve held the lead through the first three of six yellow flags in the 74-lap race, but with Ambrose just behind going into a chicane on the restart after the fourth caution, he locked his brakes, went wide across the grass infield and T-boned the Aussie when he came out the other side.

“I just saw Marcos on the inside and instead of driving aggressively and leaning on him, I gave him plenty of room, ended up on the gray and just lost it,” said Villeneuve, who placed 27th, two laps off the lead. “After that the power steering was burst and we had to replace it.

Attendance figures weren’t announced, but with warm, sunny weather and Villeneuve and Tagliani on the front row, it appeared to be the biggest crowd since the inaugural Nationwide race here in 2008.

NASCAR TRUCKS: Kevin Harvick held off Timothy Peters to win the truck race at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Mich.

It was Harvick’s second consecutive win in the series and the 11th of his career. He passed Mark Martin and Parker Kligerman on the inside to take the lead, seconds before they made contact to start a five-car accident. That wreck led to a caution on Lap 91, and there was one more after that from laps 98-100 before the race ended with a green-white checkered finish.

SPRINT CUP: Greg Biffle won the pole for today’s Pure Michigan 300 at Michigan International Speedway in qualifying on Friday, turning a lap at 190.345 mph.

Biffle edged Roush Fenway Racing teammate Matt Kenseth (190.209 mph). Ryan Newman was third (189.573 mph), followed by Denny Hamlin (189.294 mph) and Mark Martin (189.190 mph).

Brad Keselowski, David Ragan, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon and Jamie McMurray will start from positions six through 10, respectively.