At the beginning of each year, NASCAR series fans prepare for the big party that kicks off the season’s activities, namely Race Week, which always takes place in Daytona in February. The latter is always crowned by holding the queen event of the series, the Daytona 500.
This year, the event could have a special flavor for racing fans here, as Jacques Villeneuve confirmed yesterday that he plans to participate in the event with the Hezeberg team. It would be a first for this young organization, as well as a first attempt, since 2013, to get a start in the big series of NASCAR as far as Jacques Villeneuve is concerned.
The veteran Quebec driver, now 50, took part in pre-season testing on Tuesday and Wednesday at the wheel of a Ford bearing the number 27. The latter was, of course, that of his father during his last campaigns in Formula 1, but it was also used by Jacques himself during his time in the big NASCAR series. The Hezeberg team’s number 27 car plans to compete on a partial calendar in 2022.
The timing of Jacques Villeneuve’s return to the NASCAR universe is interesting, as a new generation of cars is still being tested and will debut at Daytona. This balances the forces a little and gives lesser known and established teams a little more chance of carving out a place for the famous 500 mile event.
“It would be amazing. The last time I participated in a NASCAR race in North America was several years ago… It will be extremely special because it is also an exceptional race to participate in. And it’s difficult to earn a place at the start, because you have to qualify with a good time or in duels. It makes things a little more stressful, but being part of the party would already be something special. »
– Jacques Villeneuve
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It should be noted that several teams (36) have their place already assured because they hold a charter ensuring their participation in the season. Places are therefore rare on the starting grid for the “intruders”. In fact, there are four places, because in total, 40 cars will start.
Jacques Villeneuve has taken part in the European NASCAR Whelen Euro Series for the past two seasons. Recall that the driver with the famous last name made his first name just as famous with a victory in the Indianapolis 500 in 1995, as well as a Formula 1 championship in 1997.
As for the Hezeberg team, it intends to focus on road-course events this year. 2019 European Whelen Series champion Loris Hezemans is the lead driver, but he has yet to be approved to race in NASCAR’s big series. That’s what opened the door for Jacques Villeneuve to try out at Daytona.
The Daytona 500 is to be held on February 20.