• Oct 7th 2007 at 9:34AM
  • 11

Photo: Christina Tutor for Autoblog.com

While Jacques Villeneuve's first taste of the Talladega Superspeedway Saturday didn't involve the "big one," it did involve a smaller 3-truck wreck on Lap 54. That put the former CART and F1 champion in the garage for part of the race, but the Canadian's crew repaired his No. 27 truck for a finish in 30th place. Saturday was only Villeneuve's second race in the Craftsman Truck Series.

And while he may have slept well before his first NASCAR Nextel Cup race today, we're guessing the 12 drivers in the Race for the Cup tossed and turned all night, concerned about what a rookie in the wildcard race could do to their standings.

Villeneuve qualified for the sixth spot in today's UAW-Ford 500 in the No. 27 UNICEF Toyota Camry. His Toyota has lots of company, with five others in the top six spots including a very pleased Michael Waltrip (No. 55) sitting on the pole followed by Dave Blaney (No. 22) and Brian Vickers (No. 83).

And how did that other open-wheel champion do this weekend? Dario Franchitti finished 17th in his first stock car race, the ARCA RE/MAX 250 Friday night. He will drive the No. 40 car for Chip Ganassi in 2008.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 8 Years Ago
      They are so protective towards "outsiders" because many are so disrespectful to what these drivers do. F1 drivers give no respect to any form of motorsport other than F1 and even that is suspect at times. Just wait until some of the people here on this website and read the baseless and arrogant comments made towards NASCAR and you can see why fans and drivers are so protective.

      I think it should be noted many if not most of the NASCAR drivers as HUGE F1 fans. They always talk about watching the F1 race when they wake up on Sunday morning before their team meetings.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Villeneuve did well today, finishing 21st. I was pretty impressed by him and the way he performed, he had a strong car but chose to stay out of people's way. Thankfully Labonte caused the Big One and not him otherwise he would have made some enemies.

      What a great run for Toyota, winning the pole and having four drivers lead laps (Waltrip, Blaney, Vickers and Reutimann) and Blaney finishing a season high 3rd for them. Never thought such a day would happen at Talladega, much less a CoT race.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Is that true? UNICEF (I assume it's actually the U.S. Fund for UNICEF) is sponsoring a race car?! It doesn't seem like a prudent expenditure of donated money to me.

      "...we're guessing the 12 drivers in the Race for the Cup tossed and turned all night..."

      It's the CHASE for the Cup.
        • 8 Years Ago
        From what I've heard is that Villeneuve gave Unicef the spot on is car. It's not like he needs the money anyway with all the well paid year in F1, even in the bad year with BAR.
      • 8 Years Ago

      • 8 Years Ago
      Hmm...it's just like Talladega Nights.

      Except Villenuve is French-Canadian instead of French.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Congrats to Jacques for qualifying 6th. He has a lot of talent and deserves a lot more respect than a lot of NASCAR fans are giving him.

      If the tables were reversed and a NASCAR driver went to Formula 1 or CART late in the season, all the NASCAR fans would be elated that one of their own is proving him or herself in another series. NASCAR fans are so protectionist of their sport. It makes no sense.

      Jacques has won the Indy 500, a CART World Championship, and a Formula 1 World Championship. What makes him less qualified to run at Talledega then a kid that worked him way up though the dirt tracks and short tracks of the American south?

      Because Jacques is an outsider. That is the only reason why NASCAR fans are saying this and that about Jacques not having 'enough experience' to run in a race during the chase. If it was that big of an issue then NASCAR would make a rule of some sort that no new drivers are allowed in during the chase. Simple as that.
        • 8 Years Ago
        Actually, it's not the fact that he's an outsider that people don't like, it's the fact that he doesn't have enough experience in stock cars to be allowed to race at Talladega. Gordon's issue was with Nascar's decision, not with Jacques.

        Racing stock cars is a lot togher, racing door to door at 200 MPH, than racing in parade formation where maybe two dozen passes are made during any given F1 / CART race.

        A lot of people wrote in here claiming JPM was going to rule Nascar this season because Nascar drivers are a bunch of hacks. Turns out 19 of those 'hacks' are ranked higher in points than Montoya so far this season. JPM would be higher in points, but he's only been able to average wrecking 1.8 drivers per race.
        • 8 Years Ago
        While I don't disagree that NASCAR fans can at times be too protectionist, I think your criticism is a bit off the mark, acidic. No one with whom I've discussed this issue, nor anyone I've seen interviewed has disrespected Jacques. No one has doubted that he has the talent necessary to compete.

        It's not a matter of having the talent, it's a matter of having experience with this form of racing. Restricter plate, side-by-side racing is something that Jacques doesn't have experience with. Given the fact that we're in the middle of NASCAR's contrived playoff season, those in contention for the championship have every right to be concerned that someone with no experience with how these cars run in the draft being thrown into a pack of cars going 190+ mph inches apart.

        Bill Davis was very keen to take advantage of the fact that since Talladega is an impound race, most competitive teams would be qualifying in race trim. They set up JV so aggressively for qualifying that they had to put his car up on jackstands to reset the car during the first pit stop.

        Whether or not NASCAR made the right decision, I don't know. That's a matter of opinion. But the fact of the matter is that NASCAR makes questionable calls on a regular basis. So no, acidic, it's NOT as simple as that. The concerns about Jacques came from drivers from every region in the US, not just the south.
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