`All about today': Villeneuve's `07 NASCAR test and race program comes to an end
Later today, Jacques Villeneuve will contest the `Ford 200' NASCAR Craftsman Truck race, at the Homestead-Miami Speedway, the 1.5 mile oval track, 29 miles to the South-West of Miami, Florida. The race will be Villeneuve's final NASCAR appearance of 2007, ahead of a full-season inside NASCAR's premier `Sprint Cup' series in 2008, and brings to a close a successful program of seven race events, and a dozen test days. It's been just over two months since the Canadian open-wheel racer first sat in one of Bill Davis Racing's Toyota Tundra race trucks at the Chicagoland Speedway, and the experienced Villeneuve has learned a lot about NASCAR since then.
In what promises to be a busy day, Villeneuve will take to the track for the first time this morning, for the 30 minute rookie practice session, which will be followed just 10 minutes later by a one-hour `final practice' session. At 5:00pm local time, the former Indy 500 winner and Formula One World Champion will qualify for the race, which is scheduled to start hours later at 8:00pm; all in all, a busy day for the NASCAR rookie on his first visit to the Homestead track.
It is likely that Homestead will be Villeneuve's last Craftsman Truck race, as next year he will concentrate solely on succeeding in Cup, so his focus is on scoring as high a finish as possible. He also understands that it will be important to cover full race distance as he builds his experience ahead of next season, when there will be no time to focus `just on learning', as fan and media expectation is that the 36-year-old, one of open-wheel racing's most successful ever drivers, will be racing close to the front of the pack through the 36 events that make the 2008 `Sprint Cup' series.
Speaking trackside this morning, Jacques Villeneuve was looking forward to tonight's race, commenting, "It's all about today. It's going to be busy, but it's the same for everyone. The rain should lift, but if it didn't then that would change everything; I'm not sure what would happen, but with the series so close I'd expect the race to run tomorrow. Personally, I'll be focussed on learning as much as I can, on going fast, and hopefully, on being somewhere near the front by the time the race ends. But it's not easy, and a lot can happen at a track like Homestead."
Tonight's race, which will be Villeneuve's last in the blue colours of UNICEF, the children's charity founded by the United Nations, will be shown on Speed Channel, with coverage starting at 7:30pm ET.