Jacques Villeneuve came to New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Saturday to shop — for a race team.
While the 1997 Formula champ’s first choice would be acquiring a full-time ride in either the Sprint Cup or Nationwide Series, Villeneuve realizes providing his own seat my be the best option to join the sport.
“There’s two things, if I can get a good ride, I probably would not be looking at (buying a team) but the way the budgets are right now you might as well bring it yourself,” Villeneuve said. “If I could get a full-time ride, I probably wouldn’t bother.”
Villeneuve said his first preference is Sprint Cup. But he would prefer a solid Nationwide Series team to a struggling Cup operation. That’s what Villeneuve has found with his current part-time deal at Penske Racing.
“I really like the Nationwide Series,” Villeneuve said. “It’s a lot of fun and it’s really good racing.
“With Penske Racing, it’s been great. It’s a great team. The people are great. The cars are great. The team is great. They give you everything you need to be able to do what you need to do.”
Villeneuve, 40, has enjoyed some success in NASCAR, particularly in the Nationwide Series where he’s scored three top-five and four top 10 finishes in six starts. The Montreal native most recently started and finished third at Elkhart Lake last month behind the wheel of the No. 22 Dodge. His next race with Penske is August 20th in Montreal at Circuit Gilles Villanueva — named for his father.
Villeneuve said he’s “very sad” that nothing has been lined up yet for Watkins Glen, but he would love the opportunity to race there as well.
As for the Kimi Raikkinonen NASCAR experiment, Villeneuve said, “I think he realized it wasn’t going to be easy — so he went away. It’s a lot more challenging than people think You have to be willing to do the work.”