Villeneuve: My future is in stock cars
|By Steven English and Michele Lostia||Wednesday, June 4th 2008, 15:05 GMT|
Jacques Villeneuve is determined that his future remains in NASCAR, despite losing his ride this season, and is pushing for a full-time drive in the Sprint Cup next year.
The 1997 world champion, who will race for the second time at Le Mans with Peugeot next weekend, is working to raise the necessary budget for 2009.
"Even though my first experience ended suddenly, NASCAR remains my priority," the Canadian told Italian magazine Autosprint. "It ended after the Daytona 500 because there were no resources to finance what was left in my programme.
"The required budget is $30 million for a top team and $15 million for a small team. I didn't manage to find anything and the team was forced to make a decision, which was a shame because the races I did in 2007 were encouraging. But racing costs money and without it you don't even fire up the engine.
"I was probably wrong in refusing previous proposals that would have allowed me to race without having to bring money. But my agreement with Barry Green started in January and you can't find that amount of money in just a few months. We're working on building a full-time programme in 2009."
Villeneuve admits his previous successes haven't helped him in securing a NASCAR ride but believes he's gone about adapting to the new discipline in the right way.
"The fact that I won a Formula One world title is not something NASCAR people care much about. Choosing to race in a series where my previous results are not considered demonstrates my determination. I've started from the bottom, racing pick-up trucks in ARCA just like everyone else.
"It's also useless to hope for the support of a car manufacturer. In NASCAR, none of them pay for a driver's season. There was a good relationship with Toyota, they helped me out, but even the top American drivers can only race if there's a sponsor paying for everything.
"But NASCAR remains my priority for the future, because I like the format, I enjoy the series, and I think I can be competitive."