Villeneuve will enter Nextel Cup race at Talladega

After successful tests at Talladega in Nextel and ARCA cars and a clean race in the Truck series at Las Vegas, Jacques Villeneuve was allowed by NASCAR yesterday to run races on super speedways. On the same day, it was announced Jacques would enter the Nextel race at Talladega on October 7. Villeneuve was already entered in the ARCA and Trucks race but it was also announced Villeneuve would not run the ARCA race because he would be too busy on that weekend.

Villeneuve will have to fight his way through qualifying for the race as the car entered is not in the top 35 in the owners standings. Villeneuve commented it would be a good place to try to qualifying as it was not so much about driving but keeping your foot down and hoping the engine and the car are fast.

That race at 'Dega will be the first time a COT race is held on a super speedway.


Villeneuve tests ARCA car at Talladega

Jacques Villeneuve was back at Talladega Speedway yesterday for another series of tests, this time inside an ARCA car. Bill Davis Racing brought 2 cars to the test, one for Villeneuve (#02) and another for Michael Annett (#28). Both had a very good day scoring respectively 8th and 2nd fastest lap times out of 44 cars. Villeneuve was inside the car from early in the morning to late in the afternoon and impressed his crew chief as he was smiling all the way, despite the reputation he built himself in the F1 circus.

Villeneuve should be running the ARCA race at Talladega speedway on Friday, October 5th


Ranger wins the championship

Andrew Ranger became this Sunday the first ever NASCAR Canadian Tire Series champion with a 6th place finish at Kawartha Speedway. Ranger's championship rival D.J. Kennington blew a motor on lap 98 which opened the door for Ranger to grab the championship. With that achievement, Ranger will be invited to the Toyota All-Star Showdown to be held at Irwindale Speedway on October 19-20. That race pits together the best drivers from NASCAR Development Series in a special showdown format.

Spengler 2nd at Barcelona

After a gruesome race where cars bumped into each other for the whole race, Bruno Spengler grabbed the 2nd place on the podium behind Jamie Green who scored his first DTM victory in career at Barcelona this Sunday.

With the controversial decision by Audi to remove all of it's cars from the race because the Mercedes drivers were way to aggressive and resulted in unfair racing (about 4-5 Audi cars were bumped of the way by Mercedes drivers), Spengler is now only 2 points off the lead with one race left, scheduled for October 14 at Hockenheim.

Villeneuve 21st in NASCAR debut

Despite a final result showing 21st out of 36 drivers in this saturday Craftsman Truck Series race in Las Vegas Speedway, Jacques Villeneuve had a pretty good day. After scoring near the top 10 in the practice sessions, Villeneuve qualified his truck in 7th position and seemed quite relaxed before the race. On the drop of the green flag, Villeneuve dropped several positions, a drop which was repeated every restart as Villeneuve seemed to struggle with a very loose truck on cold tires. He kept moving up every time and was running about 15th when the truck of Brian Scott in front of him got loose and had to slow down to gather it back while Villeneuve bumped him trying to avoid the contact. Villeneuve had to pit for repairs and never was competitive again for the race.

Next race on the schedule for the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series is on October 6 at Talladega Speedway


Villeneuve on Las Vegas entry list

Well, it's official now, Jacques Villeneuve will be driving in NASCAR this week-end. His name appears on the Craftsman Truck Series entry list for the Las Vegas race this week-end, where he will drive the #27 Toyota Tundra entry for Bill Davis Racing.

Villeneuve won't be the only Indy 500 champion on track as Buddy Lazier will also run the race. Lazier won the 2000 edition of the May classic.

Villeneuve will be the third ex-F1 driver t drive in the Truck series as Eliseo Salazar ran Watkins Glen in 1997 (finished 17th) and Olivier Beretta ran the Heartland Park Race in 1999 (also finished 17th) but both races were road races, meaning Villeneuve will be the first to do so on an oval.


Carpentier tests at Kentucky Speedway

Patrick Carpentier participated yesterday in a test with Gillett-Evernham Motorsport (GEM) at Kentucky Speedway. Carpentier drove the #10 old-style Nextel Cup car usually run by Scott Riggs for about 140 laps around the track, along with Nextel regular Elliott Sadler and 2 Red Bull cars. Carpentier seemed quite happy as he got out of the car : "Our goal was not to achieve a new track record, but to get used to the car, but still, I registered good times. The team was satisfied with the day and I brought the car back in one piece"

During the day, Carpentier was served a variety of different car settings to see how he reacted to each of them and, in he recorded his best lap time at a tenth of a second faster than Sadler

Carpentier will be in Carolina this week-end to work out the details of a possible contract with GEM


No luck for the Wittmers at Miller.

In Friday's Koni Challenge race at Miller Motorsport Park, the Wittmer brothers both had a
disappointing race. First, Kuno did not even get behind the wheel of his IMoto Acura as his teammate Nick Esayian hit a wall on lap 4. Nick on his side got behind the wheel in 21st place after a stint from co-driver Glenn Bocchino (IMoto owner) and got up to 4th place until he slid in the oil of a blown engine and had to retire with 10 laps to go.

Ranger let down by his engine

Andrew Ranger had a hard luck this Sunday as he lost his engine while going up through the pack on lap 268 of the 300 lap event in Antigosh, Nova-Scotia. His title rival D.J. Kennington finished third, 10 spots in front of Ranger and thus, reduces the gap to 41 points going into the last race of the season at Kawartha. Despite a second place finish, early season contender J.R. Fitzpatrick is now mathematically out of this year's NASCAR Canadian Tire Series title run.


Another year in Canada for Ranger in 2008

According to an article written by Pierre Lecours, Andrew Ranger would be back in the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series in 2008, whether he wins the title or not this year. Although Ranger surprised everyone this year with his speed and maturity, his agent Alan Labrosse feels another season would help him gain experience in specific situations.

Labrosse also said they would like to run a race or two this year in a NASCAR feeder series but they don't have a budget for that now. They will try to put everything in place for next year, where Ranger should run 5 to 6 races on the other side of the border.

Ranger will be running tonight in the 11th race of the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series in Nova-Scotia and still leads the championship with an 87 points advantage over D.J. Kennington before the 300 laps event.


The Wittmers at Miller Motorsport Park

After their dominant win in Trois-Rivières in the last Koni Challenge race, the Wittmer brothers are back behind the wheel this week-end but this time in separate cars. The decision separate them was taken by IMoto because Nick Esayian, Kuno's teammate in World Challenge, is renting their second car and asked for Kuno to be his teammate for the race. Consequently, Nick will be sharing the other car with team owner Glenn Bocchino for the 2.5 hour race.

The Dumoulins also at Miller Motorsport Park with Alegra Motorsport

The Dumoulin brothers will also be at Miller this week-end and in separate cars as well. Jean-François will drive the a Porsche GT3 with Carlos de Quesada while his brother Louis-Philippe will share the second Alegra Motorsport Rolex GT entry with Kris Wilson.


Marc-Antoine Camirand in Rolex at Miller Motorsport Park

Building a race car from the ground up in 45 days? It's the challenge Spirit of Daytona just completed prior to this week's Rolex race at Miller Motorosport Park. St-Leonard d'Aston native Marc-Antoine Camirand was part of the process and will be behind the wheel this week-end along with Guy Cosmo and Doug Goad. "I've driven the car a dozen times to set it up but it was now time to compare ourselves to other cars and see where we stand" Camirand said. He then added : "We won't be on pole at Miller this week-end but will get ready for next season and the 24 hours of Daytona. My deal with the team includes this race and 6 more next year [ ... ] I'm really happy to be racing again. I did a lot of private testing with this team but I was beginning to miss the real racing"


Villeneuve 3rd on second Talladega test

On his second day of testing at Talladega super speedway, Jacques Villeneuve was again the fastest Toyota on the speed charts after the morning's drafting session. This time, he sits in 3rd place with a best lap averaging 191.130 as the cars were using a smaller restrictor plate and a smaller wicker.

Dave Blaney, Jacques' teammate finished the session in 22nd place, 3rd of the Toyotas out of 61 cars that ran today.

Villeneuve's next visit behind a NASCAR driving wheel should be at Las Vegas where he is scheduled to make his NASCAR debut in the Craftsman Truck Series

Villeneuve learns the draft under cover

On his first day of running in the draft, Jacques Villeneuve learned a lot from the pros yesterday, despite being under cover for the run. After issues with the main car in the morning, Villeneuve took the backup #22 for the afternoon session and few drivers knew he was driving it, just like Jimmie Johnson after passing together through a 17 cars field : "Really, that was Jacques? I was sure it was Blaney [...] He must be alright because I would have never thought it was a rookie following me in the draft". Jeff Burton had about the same comments after a bump drafting session with Villeneuve : "I saw Blaney's car in front of me and he was in a perfect place for a push so I bumped him on the backstretch. He then pushed me back in the same fashion [... ] I'm not that surprised of seeing him driver like a veteran. He was champion in F1, that means he can drive... fast".

Villeneuve brought the car back with a slightly bent front bumper which pleased his crew chief Slugger Labbe : "That means Jacques learned to push, which you have to do here at Talladega"


Villeneuve 11th in afternoon drafting session

Although Jacques Villeneuve told the press he would be taking it easy this afternoon during the drafting session at Talladega Speedway, he ended up 11th on the time charts, out of 70 cars. This test was the first super speedway drafting session run with the new Car Of Tomorrow (COT) which will be used for the October 7th race at the same super speedway in Alabama.

Villeneuve ran his best lap in 49.278 seconds, for an average speed of 194.326, about half a second behind the fastest lap of Johnny Sauter which ran a 48.816 for 196.165 mph, more than 4 mph faster than pole speed last April with the old cup car.

Radio-Canada reported Villeneuve went out for 5 runs of 28, 26, 16, 15 and 12 laps for 97 laps total, more than half the distance of the Talladega 500 (188 laps)

Carpentier will not get 4th GEM car at NHIS

Gillett Evernham Motorsport (GEM) announced today that Boris Said will drive their 4th entry (#98) at New Hampshire International Speedway (NHIS) . The car will be used for research and development for the upcoming 2008 season. Rumours had been flying for a while that Patrick Carpentier might be sitting in that car at NHIS. GEM also fields that #98 car in this week's Talladega tests with Jason Keller at the wheel.

Villeneuve spent the first Talladega day getting confortable with the Cup car

Jacques Villeneuve today told SceneDaily a bit about his first day of testing at Talladega with the Nextel Cup teams : "We got going very late this morning and only got a couple runs in - we haven't been able to work on setup at all yet[ ... ] I was just getting used to running the fast laps out there as far as staying up to the top of the race track as long as possible before coming back down. I'm still working to figure everything out, but we will get more time this afternoon"

When questioned about the drafting practice that would take place later in the day, he added "I've been told that I will be wondering what this bunch of lunatics is doing out there running so close to each other the whole time - just like kids I suppose, but it should be fun [...] I am probably going to stay in the back and watch what happens."

Engine failure for Villeneuve at Talladega test

Jacques Villeneuve was on scene this Monday to test the Car Of Tomorrow (COT) for it's upcoming race at Talladega on October 7th (first race for the COT on a super speedway). Villeneuve's run was a short one as his engine let go on his first lap out. Bill Davis Racing's spokesperson told Radio-Canada that Villeneuve had nothing to do with the failure and that he went quickly back on track with the backup car.

Villeneuve was shown on Jayski's testing page as last car of 62 in the morning practice with a recorded speed of 162 mph while the 61st place car was at 181 mph.

Ranger holds on to his lead

After a 6th place finish saturday at Barrie Speedway's 1/3 of mile, NASCAR Canadian Tire Series' driver Andrew Ranger holds on to it's championship lead while rival D.J. Kennington clinches a victory out of a spectacular repair on pit road where they attached the throttle with a bungee cord to replace a broken return spring.

Although Ranger lost some ground in the standings, he still has an 87 points advantage over Kennington with 2 races to go.


Carpentier would run the 2007 chase and the complete 2008 season

ESPN today announced that George Gillett, majority owner at Gillett Evernham Motorsport (GEM), was quoted on radio CKAC saying Patrick Carpentier would run the 2007 Nextel Cup Chase races and probably the complete 2008 season. GEM currently runs 3 Nextel Cup cars but is scheduled to add a 4th for development purposes for the end of the season, which would make room for Carpentier this year. Scott Riggs' ride at GEM is on jeopardy for next year so most experts expect Carpentier to take that seat for 2008.


Carpentier close to a deal with GEM

The Canadian Press reported today Patrick Carpentier would be close to a deal with Gillett Evernham Motorsport(GEM) for a NASCAR ride. Robert Desrosiers, Carpentier's representative, told that, they don't have a contract or a racing schedule yet but are sure about one thing : Patrick will be testing with GEM pretty soon, probably as soon as Kentucky next week. He then added : "I believe that after the tests, I think all of the cards are going to fall in place and we'll have more of a definite schedule on what Patrick's going to do this season [...] There are still quite a few races left in Busch and Nextel Cup and it's going to be up to Mr. Evernham and Mr. Gillett to see where they want to put Patrick."

No Le Mans ride for Villeneuve in 2008?

René Fagnan from Auto123.com had talks recently with Peugeot representatives where he was told Jacques Villeneuve would not be driving in the 2008 Le Mans 24 hours. The Peugeot representative said "Jacques told us that, if he didn't have a NASCAR ride for 2008, he'd do Le Mans with us again. [...] It all went very well last June. Serge Saulnier, team boss, chooses the drivers and hasn't confirmed anything for next season. There were some contacts with Villeneuve but if he runs the whole 2008 schedule like it seems, it's clear it is going to be very difficult to run Le Mans. If it wasn't so, he surely would have found a seat with us"

Villeneuve ran the 2007 Le Mans 24 hours for Peugeot this year and was running 2nd place with co-drivers Marc Gené and Nicolas Minassian when their engine died with 90 minutes to go

Carpentier and Samax splits

It looks like Patrick Carpentier won't be driving for SAMAX in the Rolex Daytona Prototypes anymore this year. Philippe Crépeau from Radio-Canada.ca learned that the partnership ended on the night of the Watkins Glen race on August 10th. "The team didn't have the money to pay me. They already owe me a lot so we decided to stop it there" said Carpentier. He then added : "I will not lose time on that. I don't really feel like it. It sad that it happened but life goes on. We are looking forward now. I'm focusing on NASCAR


Villeneuve is approved by NASCAR for COT test

They're were little reasons to believe otherwise but NASCAR announced today they approved Jacques Villeneuve's participation in the manufacturer's test that will be run at Talladega next week. Villeneuve will run the Car Of Tomorrow (COT) car alongside other NEXTEL regulars on the 2.66 mile super speedway.

Team owner Bill Davis also talked about having Villeneuve run the ARCA tests at Talladega on Sept. 24th and 25th (in was stated earlier this week that he would be running the ARCA race there on Oct. 5th)

Villeneuve in ARCA car for Talladega

Also read in the Journal de Montréal yesterday : Jacques Villeneuve will be on track at Talladega on October 5th with the ARCA series

Carpentier in a 4th GEM car?

The Journal de Montréal reported yesterday that there are talks going on between Patrick Carpentier and Gillett Evernham Motorsport(GEM) for a spot in their 4th car to be added before the season ends. Gillett was quoted saying : "Carpentier is an extraordinary young man [...] He'll be testing for us in Kentucky and since we're adding a 4th Nextel car this season, he might be behind the wheel for one or more races before the season end."

GEM will be testing at Talladega next week but Carpentier will not be allowed to run the car since he's not been approved by NASCAR to run the super speedways yet. On the other hand, a car built specifically for Patrick is being prepared in GEM's headquarters.

Villeneuve getting comfortable with the COT

Jacques Villeneuve took the wheel of a Nextel Car of Tomorrow (COT) for the first time yesterday at Kentucky Speedway and got at speed much quicker than the people at Bill David Racing expected. Slugger Labbe, Villeneuve's crew chief said they had planned the whole morning for Villeneuve to get comfortable with the car but he was in the expected speed range at his 3rd lap which enabled them to do much more work than expected. In the end, Jacques ran 162 laps of the 1.5 mile oval. With these results, their testing schedule is now kicking to a new speed as Jacques should be testing with the Nextel guys at Talladega next week if he receives his clearance from NASCAR for the 2.66 miles super speedway.

The rumours heard yesterday also confirmed Villeneuve would use the last 7 races of the Craftsman Truck Series in preparation for his 2008 Sprint Cup assault.


The timing is right

After reading the news in the past couple of days, I realized one thing : The Flying Frenchmen are back into motorsport. Take a good look around around you'll see them everywhere, drivers from Quebec are invading the motorsport scene once again. After Jacques Villeneuve left F1, Patrick Carpentier lost his IRL ride and Andrew Ranger leaving ChampCar, one could easily think the dream was over but now, we've got Bruno Spengler knocking at the door of Formula One (as a test driver for Dave Richard's new ProDrive adventure) for the next year, Jacques Villeneuve and Patrick Carpentier (after a great Busch run in Montreal) signing with NASCAR teams to have preparation rides for a full assault next year. We have also seen Kevin Lacroix winning on his first week-end of Champcar Atlantic racing, Jean-François Dumoulin won the GT class at the Daytona 24 hours and Alex Tagliani is still running as good as he can with what he's giving in Champcar.

Only one conclusion is possible, the Flying Frenchmen are back and you'll get every bit of the stories here!