Villeneuve 17th fastest of 52 in Daytona qualifying `fast' but `hugely disappointed' On the back of a strong performance in pre-season testing at Daytona, Florida, Canadian motor racing legend Jacques Villeneuve followed up on Saturday with the...
Villeneuve 17th fastest of 52 in Daytona qualifying `fast' but `hugely disappointed'
On the back of a strong performance in pre-season testing at Daytona, Florida, Canadian motor racing legend Jacques Villeneuve followed up on Saturday with the 5th quickest time in morning practice. Focussed on locking Villeneuve's Toyota Camry, no.27 into the top 43 for the upcoming 50th anniversary Daytona 500, his Bill Davis Racing Toyota team were suitably confident that it could put both of its drivers on the front row of the grid that neither Villeneuve nor Dave Blaney (his team- mate) took to the track for the second practise session on Saturday. With all eyes on Sunday's qualifying, expectations were high, but on Sunday morning, the drivers awoke to strong gusting winds that would go on to transform qualifying for the 50th anniversary `Daytona 500' into something of a lottery.
Having drawn the second starting position for qualifying, Villeneuve went straight to the head of the timesheets, where he remained for some time, but soon, the 36-year-old from Montreal watched as his best time was beaten by one driver after another. Ending 17th , and 2nd best of the rookies, Villeneuve was understandably disappointed, but aware that with the weather as quick to change as it had proven, his end position could have been much lower. Blaney ended 5th in a session which saw last year's race winner, Kevin Harvick 33rd , with Villeneuve's former F1 competitor, Juan-Pablo Montoya back in 42nd. Fellow rookie, and reigning IndyCar series winner, Briton Dario Franchitti claimed the 39th fastest time.
Without one of the top 35 cars from final standings in last season's Sprint Cup, Villeneuve is not yet locked-into the `500' itself, and must now attempt to grab one of two available places from Thursday's Gatorade Duel.
Jacques Villeneuve: "Wow, that was hugely disappointing. My team gave me a great car, and we were capable of so much better. We were fast, but the wind affected me and a lot of the other fast guys. It was a bit of a lottery, but that's what we had (to deal with), and we couldn't change it. We now have to make sure we get into the race through (being best rookie in) the Duel, which just adds a lot of pressure to my team, and to me, but it's what we've got to do. I know that we are quick enough, and we don't need good luck we just don't need any bad luck."