Jacques Villeneuve scored a top-10 finish in his second race of the season in the NASCAR Nationwide Series on Saturday at Watkins Glen, coming home eighth.
The former Formula 1 champion qualified a solid sixth in the No. 32 Braun Racing Toyota and made a good start, moving up to fourth in the early going, although he would later lose a few spots while trying to defend his position among the top five.
Villeneuve eventually found himself in the lead for a while as he had yet to pit for the final time while most of the top runners had already completed their final stops. However, race leader and eventual winner Marcos Ambrose passed him before he was able to officially complete a lap in the lead, a caution coming out immediately after that. Its timing dashed his hopes of a better finish as he then had to pit, losing track position to all those who had already taken on fuel and tires to go the distance.
Despite that, and a long brake pedal, Villeneuve was still able to rally back to eighth as he finished in the top 10 for the third time in five NASCAR Nationwide Series outings, getting some good mileage under his belt before his home race in Montreal later this month.
"It's not where we wanted to be but we had a good day. It was still acceptable," said Villeneuve. "I think the fact that we had to pit under yellow at the end, that was the main factor because we had to start behind a lot of cars that were slower than us and then I had to use the brakes hard to overtake.
"I think that's what created the problems with the brakes and had we been running more in the front like was our position before, we would've just been running our pace and not pushing too hard on the brakes. However, this is good preparation for Montreal – we know more about the car, about the brakes, and it's all good experience."
Villeneuve reiterated that he is still working hard on getting more NASCAR experience, is hoping to be able to run a full season, and expects that what he has shown in his few races this year will allow him to get another shot at the Sprint Cup series.
"I hope so," said Villeneuve. "At the end of the day what I want to do is the whole season, not just a few races here and there. I don't want to be perceived just as a road racer. That's not a very good career plan in NASCAR, because you just do two or three races a year."
Next week Villeneuve is expected to fly to Europe as he is expecting news regarding his bid to field a new F1 team in 2011. He is unsure as to what the outcome will be and lamented that his involvement became public as he had intended to keep the matter a confidential one.
"I have no idea of what we're fighting up against," said Villeneuve. "Everything had been kept quiet and we managed to keep it quiet a long time until someone decided to talk, who's not even part of the organization. That was a little bit annoying...
"It's really hard to tell you what's going on because right now we don't have all the facts in front of us."
Villeneuve will next compete later this month in the Nationwide Series event in Montreal, where he finished fourth last year.