Former F1 champion CART Jacques Villeneuve is finally a NASCAR winner at 50

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Jacques Villeneuve, 1995 Indianapolis 500 winner and former F1 and CART champion, added the NASCAR race winner to the list on Saturday.

Villeneuve, 50, won the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series at the Autodromo di Vallelunga in Italy. He overcame a 5-second penalty for skipping the start and beat his closest rival Vittorio Ghirelli at the checkered flag by 6.3 seconds.

The race was an 18-lap affair on the Autodromo di Vallelunga circuit of 14 turns and 2.5 miles. It’s a circuit definitely to Villeneuve’s taste, since he finished second there in 2020.

“Finally, it took a long time to come,” Villeneuve said in an article posted on the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series website. “We fought a lot at the front and the car was good in qualifying. We had a hard time in free. practice, but in qualifying the car was really amazing. I didn’t have to lift outside of turn 1. I went there and Alon lifted him.

Villeneuve, who won 11 times in a Formula 1 career that spanned from 1996 to 2006, also won five times in Indy cars. Villeneuve is in his third season in the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series. Previously, he started four times in the NASCAR Cup Series, nine times in Xfinity and seven times in the Truck Series.

His last NASCAR Cup Series start was in 2013 in Sonoma for team owner James Finch. There, Villeneuve completed only 19 of the 110 laps before leaving with an engine problem.

Villeneuve, now ninth in the season standings in Europe, spent much of the race on Saturday battling three-time Euro NASCAR champion Alon Day. Day in 2017 became the first Israeli driver to compete in the NASCAR Cup Series when he raced in Sonoma.

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