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Villeneuve aims for the 500 Miles of Daytona

After two days of preparatory testing at Daytona, Jacques Villeneuve’s goal has not changed: he wants to participate in the most prestigious race of the NASCAR Cup, the one that kicks off the 2022 season.

“The goal is to come back to Florida next month to try and get my place on the starting grid of the Daytona 500 Miles,” said the Formula 1 world champion, in a telephone interview with Newspaper yesterday evening. Everything went well. We mainly concentrated on riding alone to maximize our chances in qualifying. “

“Unless there is a bad surprise, which I obviously do not want,” he continued, “our team [Team Hezeberg] intends to continue the adventure. “

This team, established in the Netherlands, is taking its first steps in the queen discipline of NASCAR. Villeneuve was appointed by this organization to drive on the most famous American stock car racing complex.

The Daytona 500 will take place on February 20 and will bring together all the big names of NASCAR, including Kyle Larson, Chase Elliott, Kevin Harvick, Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano, to name a few.

Limited means

“We are a small team with limited financial means,” admitted Villeneuve. Nothing is certain since you will have to take part in one of the two qualifying events. [communément appelées les « Duels »], Thursday evening a few days before the race, to ensure our place on the starting grid. “

“The good news, he added, is that our times on Wednesday [hier] at the end of the day were very comparable to those of another driver who will also have to successfully complete the stage
qualifications. “

” All hopes are allowed “

According to his estimates, four drivers will fight for the six places still available on the starting grid. All the others, holders of a NASCAR franchise, are guaranteed a place on the starting grid, regardless of their result in the “Duels”.

“All hopes are allowed,” said Villeneuve. The team hasn’t made an official announcement, but their ambitions are clear. She wants to run to Daytona. In my case, I wouldn’t have made the trip to Florida just for fun. “

The last (and only) presence of the 50-year-old veteran pilot at Daytona dates back to 2008. A puncture had ruined his course during one of the two “Duels”, which prevented him from becoming the first Quebecer since Dick Foley in 1960, to participate in this race considered the “Super Bowl” of NASCAR.

Dad for the fifth time

At a press conference yesterday in Daytona, Villeneuve did not hide that his passion for racing was intact, despite his … age and especially his other occupations.

Villeneuve has four starts in the NASCAR Premier Division. It shows as the best result a 21e place in Talladega in 2007, a speed ring like Daytona, and its last test dates back to the road circuit of Sonoma, in 2013.

Since then, he has never given up on the idea of ​​returning to North America, even though he regularly engages in other projects.

“It’s a bit more complicated to focus on racing here since I live in Italy,” he said. I am very busy working as a Formula 1 analyst [pour le réseau français Canal +] and make babies. “

Incidentally, Villeneuve was eager to get home. His new partner, the Italian Giulia Marra, will give birth to a child within a few weeks.

“But,” he concludes, “that won’t prevent me from driving at Daytona. “

Villeneuve is the father of four boys, born from two previous unions.

With Tommy Thurber, Agence QMI