Penske brings back Villeneuve for road course races
One of the most accomplished racers in recent history will join Penske Racing for two upcoming road course races on the 2012 NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) schedule.
Former world champion driver Jacques Villeneuve will compete behind the wheel of the No. 22 Discount Tire Dodge Challenger in the NNS races at Road America (June 23) and Circuit Gilles Villeneuve (August 18). He will return to the Dodge at these venues for the second-consecutive season. Villeneuve will round out a talent-rich lineup for the No. 22 Dodge that will also include 2010 NNS champion Brad Keselowski and Parker Kligerman throughout the 2012 season.
“I appreciate Penske Racing giving me the opportunity to get back behind the wheel of the No. 22 Dodge this season,” said Villeneuve. “Road America and Montreal are two of my favorite racetracks. I feel, after winning the pole last year at Montreal, that we can have a lot of success. A NASCAR victory is something I want.”
Villeneuve is one of only three drivers to win the Indianapolis 500, the Indy Car championship and the Formula One Series world title, joining former Penske Racing drivers Mario Andretti and Emerson Fittipaldi in the rare racing triple crown. Villeneuve won the Indy 500 and the CART Series Indy Car crown in 1995 before moving to Formula One where he captured the driver’s title in 1997.
“Jacques is a premiere road racer that brings extensive experience to the No. 22 Discount Tire Dodge team,” said Penske Racing team president Tim Cindric. “He gave us two strong runs last year and we feel he can do the same this season. We would like to be the team that gives him his first NASCAR victory.”
Villeneuve has made 10 NASCAR starts over the past five seasons, including seven in the Nationwide Series. He owns his top NASCAR finish at both courses when he finished third at Montreal in 2010 and Road America in 2011. In addition, he led the field to the green flag in last year’s event at Montreal.
Competing at both Road America and Montreal, Villeneuve will return to two tracks where he’s enjoyed some impressive history. He has already been to Victory Lane at Road America as he won the CART Series races there in both 1994 and 1995. He will then race in his hometown of Montreal, Quebec, Canada at the circuit named after his famous father, former Formula One driver Gilles Villeneuve.
For the two upcoming events, Villeneuve joins a team that certainly has experienced its share of success over the last 27 months. Since the team made its debut in February 2010, the Discount Tire/Snap-on Dodge NNS team has recorded 12 wins, 11 poles and a remarkable 48 top-five finishes in 76 races. The team claimed Penske Racing’s first-ever NASCAR title when it won the series championship in 2010.