Monday, August 20, 2012

Villeneuve Plays The Villain Again

Jacques Villeneuve was the center of controversy
Jacques Villeneuve played the villain’s role again Saturday, commanding the spotlight in yet another controversy filled weekend at Montreal’s Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. 

The former CART and Formula One champion pumped up the volume before a single lap had been turned, criticizing Danica Patrick for her comments following a June 23 incident at Road America that saw him spin Patrick from behind while racing for fifth place.  

“It's never her fault,” said Villeneuve, accusing Patrick of getting preferential treatment based solely on her gender. “If it hadn't been Danica, no one would have said anything. When Danica knocks out another driver, it's the fault of the driver who was knocked out. When a driver knocks out Danica, it's the other guy's fault.  

“That's part of the game, I guess." 

Villeneuve donned the black hat again in Saturday’s race, wrecking pole sitter and Canadian countryman Alex Tagliani out of the lead with just seven laps to go; a crash that relegated Tagliani to a bitterly disappointing, 22nd-place finish. In-car footage revealed that the former CART and Formula One champion never cracked the throttle, choosing instead to drive through Tagliani and take the lead.  

The crash also resulted in the weekend’s most surreal moment, as Villeneuve was jeered lustily by fans at the track that bears his father’s name.

With Tagliani out of the way, Villeneuve led until the final lap before becoming embroiled in one final controversy. In an attempt to save fuel, Villeneuve appeared to slow his pace in the race’s final turns, allowing runner-up Justin Algaier to reach his rear bumper.

"He slowed way down and really babied it through (Turns) Three and Four, and then around the bend,” said Algaier. “We got down into Six and he under-braked by a lot. I was trying to brake as deep as I could, wheel-hopped a little bit and got into the back of him."

Algaier took the lead as Villeneuve pushed wide in the final turn, claiming the checkered flag and triggering another round of uncomplimentary, post-race commentary.

Tagliani (30) and Villeneuve (22) tangled
"It was very frustrating, because Dodge and Penske gave me a car that was unbeatable today,” said Villeneuve. “But I guess Justin Allgaier decided he had to win, and the only way he could do that was to take me out, which was really frustrating.”

“I know the 30 (Tagliani) got taken out by (Villleneuve),” said Allgaier in Victory Lane. “At the end of the day, what goes around comes around."

There is no questioning Villeneuve’s talent at the wheel of a race car. The Quebec native won the 1995 CART Championship, the 1995 Indianapolis 500 and the 1997 Formula One World Driving Championship, joining legends Mario Andretti and Emerson Fittipaldi has the only men to achieve all three milestones.  

Unfortunately, he may not have what it takes to succeed in NASCAR.  

His brief Nationwide Series career has been littered with on-track incidents, leading many to question his level of respect for both the series and its competitors. Like Allgaier on the final lap Saturday, many of Villeneuve’s fellow drivers have determined it’s best to deal with the Canadian ace quickly and without conscience, before he does the same to them. 

The jury remains out on Jacques Villeneuve’s NASCAR career. But the evidence is beginning to mount.

 Photos: The Cahier Archive,


  1. Jacques Villeneuve is doing the same thing he accuses Danica of.

  2. Far more drivers drove like bigger idiots than JV did in this race. I saw many drivers wreck into each other and JV was no where to be found.

  3. Anonymous12:24 PM

    Every race I watch him in the question is always when, not if, he's going to do something stupid. Too bad. He has talent somewhere in him.

  4. John Lavoie12:36 PM

    Live by the sword...Die by the sword

    Racing does need it's villains....lets face's the villains and the controversy they create that put butts in the seats...but like Justin said "What comes around, goes around"

  5. Anonymous12:44 PM

    It is not ok when Jacques does something wrong but when Justin does it, its ok. Thats calling the kettle black.

  6. Anonymous12:46 PM

    Well Jury if you want a good finish go with Jacques. I have been a huge fan of Jacques since the early 1990's and he is not a mean guy, he is not disrespectful. I do agree with his comments about Danica, how ever hard to hear- she is treated differently, now does that mean it is right to dump her-no. But she even said if she could actually catch Jacques she would wreck him. Jacques led almost the whole race and was the car to beat. It is unfortunate though that the only way to beat him was to cheaply dump him.

    PS the reason I am a nascar fan now was because after Greg Moore died I stopped watching racing and did not want to see anything happen to Jacques. Then my husband introduced me to Nascar and I am a huge fan- thanks to it's safety standards. Seeing Jacques in a Nascar car is awesome for me. But maybe if he was in the series things would be different.

    Nancy K

  7. Anonymous1:13 PM

    I find it laughable that he criticized Justin for the exact thing he did to Alex. How do you say hypocrite in French?

  8. So you drive through a guy while your motor is bouncing on the chip, and then talk about the 31 having to wreck people to win. Pretty funny eh?

    I heard a radio comm between Kalinoff and Stenhouse I think, right before the restart where Mike is pretty much telling him to dump the 22 car. Kind of pumping him up saying don't sweat it, he's done it to everyone. It looked like Ricky tried way too hard to take him out and lost it.

    Oh well. It is what it is. I still love the racing at Montreal. Love the drama. Hate the footwear. What was that all aboot eh?

  9. Brandon in TN5:22 PM

    Dear Jacques,

    Payback's a .... well you know the rest.

  10. Very well said Dave!

  11. Anonymous7:51 PM

    I'm Canadian, and with all the stuff he had done to the nationwide regulars in the past 2 years, I'm really glad someone had the guts to say no more. If he wants to run in NASCAR he has to learn respect from the other drivers, which he is not yet. Maybe some more trips into a wall might have him give some respect to the stars of the sport. I cheered when he did not win. Don't get me wrong, he has great talent, but in NASCAR you also must have respect for the other drivers, expecially when you only drive 1-2 races per year. I was also superized that he did not get punted a lot sooner in the race.

  12. the debster10:37 AM

    I thought it was a fabulous end to a great race. Justin Allgaier did a great job and won. He raced Jacques like Jacques would have raced him.

  13. Anonymous10:47 AM

    No one could have written a better ending to the race. After punting others, fate(or a bumper) returned the favor. How can you not just love that. All talent no brains.

  14. Anonymous9:41 AM

    Great article as always Dave!!! Look forward to your colium and appreciate the bluntness in them......Travis from Tulsa

  15. Anonymous2:35 PM

    Pithy and so CORRECT as always GF... well said !

  16. Mark Little3:55 PM

    It appears that JV has forgotten what he used to do in CART and F1, that is show some class and drive clean. He got spun out because he deserved it. I think in Road America, he had some case, but still, he should be above that. At Montreal, he just drove like an ass...and if you live by the sword, you better prepared to die by it. By letting Allgaier get to his back bumper, he deserved what he got.

  17. Anonymous5:44 PM

    villeneuve would dump the Good Lord heself to win at Montreal