"Jacques of all trades" Villeneuve targets Brickyard glory while trying to re-light F1 career. (LAT)
Even as he continues to work on plans to re-enter Formula 1, Jacques Villeneuve is continuing his efforts in NASCAR. The 1995 Indianapolis 500 winner announced Friday that he will attempt to qualify for the Brickyard 400 on July 25, as he bids to to join one of the most exclusive clubs in motorsports as an Indy car and stock car race winner at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Villeneuve, who went on to win the 1997 Formula 1 World Championship after claiming the CART Indy car title the same year as his 500 triumph, will drive the No. 32 Dollar General Toyota for Braun Racing at the Brickyard. If he makes the 43-car field during qualifying Saturday, July 24, he will join Juan Pablo Montoya as the only drivers to compete in the three major auto racing events at IMS – the Indianapolis 500, Brickyard 400 and United States Grand Prix. The French-Canadian won the Indianapolis 500 in his second start at IMS. He also made five starts in the USGP Formula 1 race from 2000-'03 and 2006, with a best finish of fourth in '00.
“I am very excited to join with Braun Racing and Dollar General at Indianapolis,” Villeneuve said. “We had a very exciting and solid (NASCAR Nationwide Series) race last month at Elkhart Lake. I had hoped it would result in additional opportunities to drive for the organization.
“I have a lot of good memories at the Brickyard. Winning the Indy 500 was a very big highlight in my career. This will be my first venture in a stock car there, but I am confident that we will do well.”
Villeneuve will attempt to make his third career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start, but his first with Braun Racing. He has competed for the team in road course events in the NASCAR Nationwide Series in 2008, '09 and this season.
“Entering the Brickyard 400 as an owner at this historical track means a lot to me,” said Braun Racing owner Todd Braun. “It is extra special because I grew up here in Indiana. It's also exciting to take a former Indy 500 winner to the Brickyard. He and Trent (Owens, crew chief) work very well together, and I know that Trent is looking forward to the feedback that Jacques can provide him. He is an extremely talented driver. Jacques is a great asset to our team.”