Vilnius, who was a 1997 Formula One champion and 95th Indy 500 winner, qualified his 27th Hezeberg Engineering Systems Ford Mustang for speed on Wednesday night for the biggest race of the NASCAR season on Sunday.
He ranks one of four non-charter spots on the net, with Noah Gregson of Beard Motorsports also locking in the race on time.
Asked how his achievement in his career, Villeneuve replied: “Super high. Obviously, this is not a victory.
“It’s not like winning the Indy 500 or the F1 Championship, but at this point in my career I last tried to qualify here 14 years ago to make the show incredible because it’s a small team.
“We have not contacted a big team to prepare the car, and very unexpectedly have time to catch up, so it takes place immediately after these great victories.
“Being able to make such a big race at such a high level is amazing, and when I’m in a race car, I don’t realize I’m 50, and that’s good. As long as this continues, I can’t imagine myself stopping the race. “
Jacques Villeneuve, Hezeberg team, Ford Mustang Hezeberg Engineering Systems
Photo: Matthew T. Thacker / NKP / Drawings of motorsport
Villeneuve said some people had written him off as a professional driver, but winning the NASCAR European Series in Vallelunga last year proved he still has what it takes.
“It’s satisfying and amazing because there have been quite a few times when I’ve heard,‘ Okay, come on. You are past him. Just give up, ”he said.
“The hunger never stopped, and the experience is just a big help until the day when, I guess, you start to take your foot off the throttle because you’re a little scared or you no longer feel the adrenaline rush as a positive moment, but start to perceive it as a negative, then you have to stop, but so far the experience is only beneficial ”.
Villeneuve, who drives a part-time car until Hezeberg’s co-pilot Loris Hesemans gains enough experience to race on major NASCAR tracks, did not expect to qualify for speed and was worried he would not be able to make it. in the race. through today’s duel race.
His last attempt to qualify through Duels with Bill Davis Racing in 2008 ended in a car accident (below) involving four-time IndyCar champion Dario Franciti, winner of the 2010 Daytona 500 Jamie McMurray and a Hollywood stuntman Stanton Barrett.
Jacques Villeneuve, Stanton Barrett, Jamie McMurray and Dario Francity crashed
Photo: Motorsport.com / ASP Inc.
“I was convinced that we did not have enough speed to pass in time, and I thought that then we would have to fight it through fights,” he admitted. Somehow the car was much easier to drive. It was easy to be smooth because we didn’t get that much.
“It was very, very close. The whole thing was to pick up speed to speed from the second turn, switch gears, get away from the wall so as not to block the air, just get those extra few turns, and it made a difference. ”
The team is led by Tuan Hezemans and businessman Ernst Berg with the technical support of Reaume Bros Racing. If the team gets a strong result on Sunday, it could mean an increased program in the Cup series as it is not expected on every round.