Jacques Villeneuve declared himself pleased with a fourth place finish on his NASCAR return on Sunday in the Nationwide Series event in Montreal.
The 1997 Formula 1 World Champion survived a chaotic race that saw plenty of incidents, most of them caused by the track conditions in the closing stages of the race when the damp asphalt caught out many of his rivals.
Villeneuve first led the race on lap 16 when leader Marcos Ambrose pitted, and the French-Canadian stayed out to try to get on a better sequence, although his gamble didn't pay off as planned due to the timing of the caution periods. Despite that, he was able to make the most of the final restart where many of those ahead of him were involved in a multi-car incident at Turn Two. Villeneuve emerged from the chaos in fourth place, which he kept until the checkered flag.
"We didn't have a very good pit stop strategy, it didn't work out for us that the yellow came out exactly at the wrong time. That was a little bit frustrating, but the restarts were going amazing," said Villeneuve.
"My car was amazing at the restarts for two laps, three laps. The brakes were strong, I could attack and overtake a few cars and then take it easy because the brakes were over heating a little bit.
"Every time there was a caution I was happy. But, there's nothing that's not bent on the car. It was like being in a pinball machine at every restart. It was just a matter of surviving and when I saw the rain coming I was quite happy because I thought we could maybe get a few more positions – and fourth, after where we were halfway through the race, was great."
The 38-year-old admitted that the race has been probably the wildest he has ever been part of due to the permanent contact there was throughout the 76 laps of racing, partly caused by the double-file restarts and the damp track in the end.
"It is the wildest one, because if we did that in F1, you would survive five meters and you'd probably be rolling and have no wheels attached," he said. "There's no way you could do restarts like that.
"This was wild – this was definitely crazy and it's a good thing those cars are strong. Maybe that's why we run into each other so much."
Villeneuve's fourth place marks his first top five finish in one of NASCAR's national series. It came in only his second Nationwide Series start.