By admin | June 24, 2012
By Richard Allen
Jacques Villeneuve may be a former Formula 1 world champion and Indianapolis 500 winner but that alone doesn’t seem to be winning him very many friends in the NASCAR garage. The Canadian driver makes only rare road course starts in stock car racing but he has shown quite an ability for making enemies in those limited events.
And now, count Danica Patrick among those who departed a track angry as a result of the aggressive driving style of this road course ‘ringer’ following Saturday’s Sargento 200 Nationwide Series event in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. Also, Villeneuve found himself involved in a mishap that included series points leader Elliott Sadler and another with Michael McDowell.
The Patrick situation occurred on the last lap as a pack of drivers, including the two former open wheel stars, were racing for positions inside the top-5 behind eventual winner Nelson Piquet, Jr. Villeneuve drove into turn 5 of the massive four mile Road America track a bit too hard and tagged the rear bumper of Patrick’s Chevrolet, sending the popular female driver for a spin.
Although obviously perturbed by the turn of events, Patrick measured her words regarding the Villeneuve incident carefully during an ESPN post-race interview. “That’s the bummer that we weren’t able to finish that off and finish off with a top-5 like I feel like we all deserved,” she declared. “You all can make a decision for yourself what you think happened there.”
However, Patrick crew chief Tony Eury, Jr. wasn’t so guarded with his comments after he confronted the opposing driver after the race. “Every time he comes over here and races, he pretty much has a car that looks like that,” Eury said, pointing to Villeneuve’s scraped front bumper. “He has a perfectly good winning car but he can’t finish it because he’s not a good thinker. I just told him ‘If you’re gonna be a great race car driver then start performing like one’.”
For his part on the Patrick issue, Villeneuve said that he got into her because Max Papis had pushed him into the grass at the critical point on the track where heavy braking for the tight turn takes place. As a result, Villeneuve claims he was unable to get his Penske Racing Dodge slowed enough to avoid contact.
The incident in which Villeneuve was involved with Sadler occurred in the same turn 5 but appeared to be much more of a so called ‘racing deal’ as cars jockeyed for position and the #2 car simply found itself on the receiving end of the final bump. However, based on Villeneuve’s past history, even ‘racing deals’ are going to create an uproar.
Villeneuve was himself the recipient of a turn 5 bump when McDowell tagged him. After the race, McDowell explained that Villeneuve had charged so hard into the turn that he was much too slow in the middle of the corner, making contact unavoidable.
This race seemed to serve as merely a microcosm of Jacques Villeneuve’s NASCAR career. He makes very few starts in this form of racing but displays an uncanny knack for making enemies.
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