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NASCAR NEWS 

Villeneuve still serious about NASCAR

Jacques VilleneuveJacques Villeneuve is still open to a future in NASCAR despite making a bid to enter a Formula 1 team in partnership with Durango.

The former Formula 1 world champion and Indianapolis 500 winner will try to qualify for what would be his third ever NASCAR Sprint Cup series event this weekend at the Brickyard, more than two years after he attempted to make the field for the 2008 Daytona 500.

The Canadian is currently trying to keep his career options open as he returns to NASCAR while working on his proposed F1 team.

Speaking at Indianapolis, Villeneuve remained tight-lipped about his F1 bid and said for the time being he does not have a preference on where to race next year.

"There's a lot going on and until you have something finalised you've got to look at every opportunity that's out there," said Villeneuve.

"I really enjoy driving the NASCAR and that's why I moved back on this side of the ocean in 2006, it was to work on this and it's taken a while to get going. Right now we got [the Nationwide series race at] Elkhart Lake going and now we've got the Brickyard so it's starting to open up a little bit and it would be great if we could carry on doing more ovals.

"Obviously there's been a lot of talks about Formula 1 and as long as this is an option, I have to keep it open. It's really hard to tell you what the preference would be. We have to wait until the real opportunity is there on the table. Until there's something full-time that we can get going, I just can't really focus on one."

Villeneuve indicated that he had options to race in IndyCar again but said his focus now is mainly on F1 and NASCAR, which he believes to be the "top-two forms of racing in the world."

Although he was evasive when asked about his F1 plan, he admitted the road for a start-up team would always be a bumpy one, as the current new outfits have proven thus far on their debut season.

While few details have leaked thus far as to how his team would be built up, there seems to be little indication that it may involve an organisation with F1 experience.

"If you look at the new teams this year, they got going very late and obviously with not enough budget," he said. "So there's very little that can be accomplished in the first year. And the problem is when they start like that they can't build on the following year and so on, so it's a vicious circle."

The 39-year-old said this weekend's result in the Brickyard 400 could prove pivotal to his NASCAR future. His #32 Braun Racing Toyota is not guaranteed to start the race and he has to make the field on speed during Saturday's qualifying. He will quickly need to adapt to a car that he has not driven since his failed attempt to qualify for the Sprint Cup season opener in 2008.

"This is not a qualified car so that creates another level of pressure," said Villeneuve. "We have to spend the day just working on the qualifying set-up and getting used to the track to try to make the show. That's the main issue right now and hopefully it won't rain. We'll see how it goes after that. If we can have a good race then it will definitely be an important one for what happens in the future."

This weekend marks more than 15 years since Villeneuve's last race at the 2.5-mile Indianapolis oval, where he claimed Indy 500 victory following second place in his rookie year in 1994. He also raced on the venue's purpose-built F1 track five times, scoring a best finish of fourth in the first event held in 2000.

Villeneuve's most recent NASCAR outing was last month in a Nationwide Series race at Road America where he was competitive at the front, leading some laps and contending for victory before fuel pressure issues hampered him in the end.

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