Mar 11, 2014, 12:00 PM EDT
At least two of IndyCar’s current drivers are supportive of the Villeneuve move, as the French Canadian returns to open-wheel racing for the first time in eight years.
“I really think it’s great for the series to have that big of a name coming back,” said Simon Pagenaud, who will be one of Villeneuve’s two teammates at Schmidt Peterson Motorsports.
“You love those kind of stories. You want to promote new guys coming up, but to have the past champions go against the new guys can be exciting.”
One of said “new guys” – young American Josef Newgarden of Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing, now entering his third season – also endorses both Villeneuve’s Indy 500 return and also Juan Pablo Montoya’s full season return.
“It’s super exciting,” Newgarden told MotorSportsTalk last week. “Seeing some of these guys come back in, I watched Montoya in F1, and he was such a badass everywhere. It’s kind of interesting to race him now. It’s a little surreal. Same with Villeneuve. He’s a legend at everything he’s done.”
However, while both admit there will be positive buzz generated from the returns, neither Pagenaud nor Newgarden think the returning drivers will have it easy.
“Jacques was in the Indy 500 19 years ago, so the cars have changed quite a lot,” Pagenaud said. “He’ll follow what we’re doing within the team. But he’ll need time.”
Added Newgarden, “I think they’ll have a tough time. There’s so many good guys in IndyCar right now, and they have all more time with the DW12 car, learning the way this thing is in the modern era. It will be tough but should be interesting. It will be cool to be driving alongside such respected names.”
The battle of generations is among the intriguing story lines for this year’s Indianapolis 500. And it’s something both Pagenaud and Newgarden appreciate.
Apr 19, 2015, 1:30 PM EDT
Raikkonen rallies to second place in Bahrain, marking his first podium finish since the 2013 Korean Grand Prix.
Apr 19, 2015, 1:13 PM EDT
British driver holds on to win the Bahrain Grand Prix for the second time despite a last lap brake scare.
Apr 19, 2015, 12:49 PM EDT
NBC News’ Kerry Sanders goes for a two-seater lap with Mario Andretti at Long Beach.
Apr 19, 2015, 12:44 PM EDT
Defending world champion dominates proceedings in Bahrain to finish ahead of Kimi Raikkonen and Nico Rosberg.
Apr 19, 2015, 12:00 PM EDT
Indonesian driver clinches his first victory in the GP2 Series at the 70th attempt.
Apr 19, 2015, 10:15 AM EDT
Mercedes and Ferrari prepare to duel in the desert on Sunday. Join us on NBCSN and Live Extra from 10:30am ET for all of the action from the Bahrain International Circuit.
Apr 19, 2015, 9:30 AM EDT
Lewis Hamilton will lead the grid away in Bahrain on Sunday ahead of Sebastian Vettel and Nico Rosberg.
Apr 19, 2015, 8:45 AM EDT
Watch a sneak preview of today’s episode as we hear from local racer Daniel Ricciardo on his home race weekend.
Apr 19, 2015, 8:00 AM EDT
Starting from pole position, Hamilton goes in search of his third win of the season in Bahrain.
Apr 18, 2015, 10:00 PM EDT
Beretta’s Ferrari to start up front for Round 5 of season.
Apr 18, 2015, 9:15 PM EDT
Newgarden qualifies sixth for Long Beach race, best outside IndyCar’s established “power trio.”
Apr 18, 2015, 9:05 PM EDT
With 1-2-5 in qualifying at Long Beach, Team Penske’s hot streak on Saturdays continues to open 2015.
Apr 18, 2015, 8:49 PM EDT
Polesitting entries bring it home Saturday at Long Beach for the TUDOR Championship.
Apr 18, 2015, 8:15 PM EDT
Scott Dixon hopes for success at Long Beach, a track he considers a “thorn in the side.”
Apr 18, 2015, 8:05 PM EDT
Ryan Hunter-Reay begins rebound from NOLA wreck by qualifying fourth in Long Beach.
Apr 18, 2015, 6:44 PM EDT
NBCSN IndyCar analyst Townsend Bell returns to the Indianapolis 500 with Dreyer & Reinbold/Kingdom Racing.
Apr 18, 2015, 6:19 PM EDT
Helio Castroneves brings Team Penske its third consecutive pole to start the season.
Apr 18, 2015, 5:52 PM EDT
IndyCar qualifying about to go on NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra.
Apr 18, 2015, 5:28 PM EDT
Jack Harvey will start from the pole for Sunday’s Indy Lights race in Long Beach.
Apr 18, 2015, 5:00 PM EDT
American driver Alexander Rossi performs admirably to finish third, having lost the lead of the race with two laps remaining.
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