Monday, June 25, 2012

Villeneuve Becoming A Pariah In Nationwide Garage

Jacques Villeneuve continues to push hard for a shot at a NASCAR career. Saturday at Road America, he pushed too hard. 

Villeneuve made no friends Saturday.
Villeneuve’s racing resume is impeccable. The son of Formula One great Gilles Villeneuve, Jacques is himself a former F1 World Driving Champion, as well as the 1995 Indy Car World Series Champion and 1995 winner of the Indianapolis 500. Despite those lofty accomplishments, however, Villeneuve has failed to generate sustained interest in NASCAR. He has just three career starts in the headline Sprint Cup Series, with a top finish of 21st. More recently, he has made sporadic road course starts in the NASCAR Nationwide Series for Braun Racing (now Turner Motorsports) and Penske Racing, often contending for wins despite a series of late-race, banzai charges that have earned him the ire of  his fellow competitors.  

Villeneuve’s “bull in a china shop” reputation was reinforced again Saturday, when the Penske Racing driver turned point leader Elliott Sadler head-on into the wall with 11 laps remaining, then punted Danica Patrick out of fourth place on the final lap, leaving Patrick 12th at the drop of the checkered flag. 

“I just saw it right there on the screen,” said a steaming Patrick after the race. “Y’all can make a decision for yourself what you think happened there.” 

Eury: "He's not a real race car driver..."
Crew chief Tony Eury, Jr., was more outspoken, confronting Villeneuve after the race, calling the Canadian driver “an a—hole” and asking, “why do you have to come here and run over people? 

Villeneuve blamed the incident on dirty tires, saying, “I wasn't fighting with Danica, I was fighting with Max Papis. Just before the braking, I guess he was wanting to cross over and go to the inside of Danica. He probably didn't know I was there, so it pushed me in the grass. You don't slow down that much in the grass, so by that time I was on the race track again, I was going a little bit faster than Danica. That's all."

"He doesn't have the respect for what his name should mean," said an angry Eury afterward. “With a name like that and the history his family has, for him to come here and not have any respect for anybody, he's not a real race car driver in my book.

"It's got nothing to do with (Danica)," Eury said. "Every time (Villeneuve) is behind you, you wonder if you're about to get run over. Today happened to be our day." 

Saturday’s race marked the second consecutive controversial outing for Villeneuve at Road America. Last year, he finished third after overcharging Turn One on a late-race restart, putting all four wheels in the dirt in an ill-advised move that wrecked both Papis and Brian Scott. Many observers questioned then whether Villeneuve’s hunger for a full-time NASCAR ride had clouded his judgement. Saturday, other Nationwide Series drivers echoed Eury’s post-race comments, saying the former F1 champion takes unnecessary chances, pushes his equipment past its limits and lacks respect for his fellow drivers. 

“He wants what he wants, and he doesn’t care how he gets it,” said one series regular, speaking on the condition of anonymity.  “He’ll drive through the grass to gain a spot, then use you as a guardrail to make it through the corner. He has all the talent in the world, but nobody is comfortable racing with him.” 

At age 41, time is running short for Villeneuve to make his mark as anything more than a spot-reliever in NASCAR. His talent is beyond dispute, but his lack of respect on the race course has made him a pariah among his fellow drivers. 

“Where Jacques Villeneuve goes, there tend to be cars that have problems,” said Patrick Saturday. “Whether it's his fault, the other cars' fault or whether it's just stock car racing at the end of the race... you guys can make a decision on what happened there at the end."

 Photo Credits: yallaf1.com, espn.com

21 comments:

  1. Anonymous10:16 AM

    Very well said!

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  2. Anonymous10:18 AM

    Well, its up to the car owners if he will be in a car. Personally I hope he isn't and if he is I think anytime you're behind him punt his butt each chance they have & take care of it themselves. Be interesting if Roger puts him back in the car.

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  3. Anonymous10:26 AM

    guys... papis put him in the grass and jacques had wheel hop! he couldn't get the car slowed down quick enough

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    1. Anonymous12:37 PM

      BS - he was in and out of the grass long before he dumped her. He's an ass!

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  4. Anonymous10:57 AM

    You think someone at JR motorsports would tell Eury Jr to shut up by now. Regardless of right or wrong. He shouldn't be the one calling out drivers as he's been doing this year.

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    1. Have you seen Tony Jr.? YOU tell him to shut up! ;)

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  5. Anonymous11:01 AM

    Max Papis was quoted in the Milwaukee Journal saying that the incident with Danica was not Jacques fault ...

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    1. Who DID hit her, then?

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    2. Anonymous2:05 PM

      "I dunno", "It wasn`t me", "Some other guy" hit her

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  6. I have been a fan of JV since his US open wheel days, but am growing tired of seeing him time after time make stupid decisions. If he would stop making banzai moves at the beginning of the race his natural talent will see him towards the front of the pack at the end of the race. I don't think we will get to see him ever do this because I fear he will be punted off the track at first chance. And I wouldn't blame the driver who did it. It's just to bad JV didn't shine like he should have in NASCAR.

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  7. I was livid when I saw this on Saturday and I was livid again when I watched it this morning (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=143l_xhO2LA&feature=related). This egregious act is indefensible. Villeneuve should be sanctioned by NASCAR.

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    1. NASCAR generally doesn't sanction drivers for spinning someone out.

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  8. OI think the next time he's in a race someone should just run over him the way he seems to run over the rest of the field.

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  9. JV did hit Danica, BUT Max is telling the truth.

    It wasn't JV's fault completely, Max was blocking JV and put him in the grass, but Danica wound up in the wrong place at the wrong time because JV was on the gas going into Turn 5 and when you see how difficult that turn was all day, there was no way all three cars were making it out of there without a problem.


    I just hate that the lead car was the one who got hurt the most.

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    1. JV was also back on the asphalt for at least 150 yards before contact with Patrick's back bumper occurred. That must have been VERY sticky grass.

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    2. Anonymous2:32 PM

      IF wheel hop or dirty tires were the culprit wouldn't we have seen smoke from JV locking up his tires?

      Robert Y
      Cincinnati

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  10. Anonymous12:58 PM

    Great write up, Dave... felt terrible for Danica.

    If it was someone other than JV that hit her in the way he did, then I'd buy the "in the grass-tire hop-couldn't slow down" reasoning. But considering JV's track record in not only this race (hitting Sadler) but other NASCAR races... the guy knew exactly what he was doing.

    I do hope he's in at least one more Nationwide race... on a road course. What goes around comes around.

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    1. Anonymous4:53 PM

      Edit (sorry Dave I meant to say): I do hope he's in at least one more Nationwide race... on a road course... and just to make it extra special... in front of his home crowd. What goes around comes around.

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  11. Anonymous4:27 PM

    As the man said, JV was out of the grass and back on the track 150 yards before he hit Danica. I suspect what happened is that he had used up his brakes and couldn't make the corner and chose to use Danica to scrub off speed so he could get around. That would explain the lack of smoke from any locking up of brakes.

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  12. Anonymous9:43 PM

    Did anyone forget why jacques was racing back that far in the pack to begin with? Perhaps it was because he got spun out by the the race winner. Then the squeakey clean Piquet says after he passed Jacques..Ha... can we say F1 cheater... Danica wasnt the only person spun out saturday but she was the only girl with a big sponsor who got spun. Max, who was closer than anyone else to see and hear the incident on the track, said it was a racing incident, and that is good enough for me bacause Mad Max did have a bone to pick with jacques from last year. Oh and please tell Ms Gunslinger I do like her style on the radio. She makes me and my wife laugh out loud but making fun of the Villeneuve name is is a bit of a gamble with canadian fans...kinda like saying driver 88's name wrong...It just isn't cool. Thanks for letting me vent.. love the show. Mike from New Brunswick

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