Jacques Villeneuve makes Braun Racing's first start at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and drives to 29th-Place finish in Brickyard 400 INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (July 26, 2010) -- Jacques Villeneuve and Braun Racing beat the odds to make a historic first...
Jacques Villeneuve makes Braun Racing's first start at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and drives to 29th-Place finish in Brickyard 400
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (July 26, 2010) -- Jacques Villeneuve and Braun Racing beat the odds to make a historic first start on Sunday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Competing in the famed race is a major accomplishment for the young Sprint Cup team owned by Indiana-natives, Todd Braun and his father, Ralph. A four-team organization in the Nationwide Series, advancing into NASCAR's premier series has been a large and dedicated effort. Driving the first Cup car built in-house, the F1 World Champion and Indy 500 winner drove the No. 32 Dollar General Toyota to a 29th-place finish in the Brickyard 400.
Starting from the 43rd position, Villeneuve had moved into 42nd when a multi-car crash was triggered ahead of him in turn two. He hit the brakes hard and slid sideways. As the field slowed behind the pace car, he reported to crew chief, Trent Owens, that someone had hit him in the right rear as they dodged the wrecking cars. Owens called his driver to pit road where the Dollar General crew put four new tires onto the Camry. They examined the right rear of the car to ensure that the fender would not rub the new tire. The left rear also had some damage that they quickly repaired.
Restarting from the 28th spot on lap eight, he drove up to 23rd before the next caution flag was displayed for debris on lap 15. Able to get a better feel for the car's condition during the green-flag laps, Villeneuve reported to Owens on how it was handling.
"It's very neutral now," he said. "We're loose for about three laps and I have to be careful into the turn. Then it balances well. I can carry speed into turns three and four but am lacking in one and two."
Owens called him to pit road for service on lap 17 and instructed the crew to change four tires, pack the car with fuel and remove tape from the grill. On lap 20, Villeneuve lined the Dollar General Toyota up in the 23rd position for the restart on lap 21.
During the ensuing green-flag run, Villeneuve settled the No. 32 into the 26th position. As teams began to experience overheating issues, Owens asked his driver for a report on the car's temperatures. Villeneuve reported that the water was safely at 225 degrees.
On lap 39, the leaders began to come to pit road for green-flag stops. Villeneuve followed suit on lap 44 and came to pit road for fresh tires and fuel. As the field cycled through the green-flag stops, he found himself in the 28th position on lap 50.
As the uninterrupted racing continued, Villeneuve reported to Owens that the car's handling was off balance when he was trapped in traffic. On lap 66, the yellow flag was displayed again for debris.
"We are tight sometimes," he told Owens. "Most of the run we are loose."
He brought the No. 32 to pit road for service on lap 67. The Dollar General crew quickly changed four tires, packed the Camry with fuel and made an adjustment on the left front shock to help with the loose condition. Villeneuve returned to the race track in the 29th spot for the restart on lap 70.
During the next green-flag pit stop on lap 97, it was discovered that one of the splitter braces was broken, which was disrupting the handling balance of the Dollar General Toyota. Villeneuve reported that he handling was now a little tight but loose on power. A caution on lap 117 gave the Dollar General team the opportunity they needed to repair the brace.
On lap 120, Villeneuve brought the Dollar General car to pit road for service and repairs. The lengthy service did not cost track position since the No. 32 was already trapped two laps down to the leader. He returned to the track in the 29th spot for the lap 122 restart.
Reporting that the water temperature was rising, Owens instructed Villeneuve to return to pit road for an unscheduled green-flag pit stop on lap 128. The Dollar General put four scuffs on the car and cleaned the debris off of the grill. Losing an additional lap to the leaders, Villeneuve returned to the track on lap 130 but remained in the 29th spot. He informed the team that the water temperature had dropped and the car's handling had improved.
He continued to circle the 2.5-mile track, gaining speed and experience. Villeneuve came to pit road for one last pit stop for fresh tires and fuel during the lap 139 caution for debris. He restarted from the 30th position. In the closing laps, he drove the Dollar General Toyota into the 29th position. The finish was a milestone for both Villeneuve and the Braun Racing organization.
"I had a lot of fun today," said Villeneuve. "It was a little stressful because we came here without any practice, the team not knowing the car or the track and me not being in the Cup car for over two years. It was a big question mark, but that's how I like it, when it's tough. After practice yesterday, I knew we still had a lot to do. The team worked very hard to make adjustments before the race. They continued to work on it during the race and by the end the car was running really strong. I made contact with the wall a couple of times. I backed it down because there was no point in risking the Dollar General Toyota. I could run two-wide even against the quick guys and hold my own. It is too bad that we lost so much time when the splitter brace broke. The car was loose after that, but it was fun and I could drive it hard. I'm looking forward to driving for Braun Racing in Montreal next month."
-source: braun racing