Skip to content

Pagenaud, Newgarden welcome Villeneuve to Indy 500

Mar 11, 2014, 12:00 PM EST

Jacques Villeneuve will be making his first return trip to Indianapolis since winning there in 1995 -- and only his third race ever there -- for this year's Indy 500. AP

Last week, there were two rather major names released to compete in the Indianapolis 500: 1995 race and CART series champion Jacques Villeneuve, and 2004 NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Kurt Busch.

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.

Latest Posts
  1. Menards stays on as NASCAR XFINITY sponsor for RCR

    Dec 18, 2014, 11:11 AM EST

    MenardsNXS Getty Images

    Menards stays with RCR’s XFINITY program.

  2. Flying Lizards head to PWC with McLaren

    Dec 18, 2014, 9:56 AM EST

    Photo: McLaren Photo: McLaren

    New cars, series for sports car stalwart team.

  3. NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour and Southern Modified Tour release expanded 2015 schedules

    Dec 17, 2014, 8:47 PM EST

    nbc whelen modified tour logo

    NASCAR revealed the 2015 schedules for the Whelen Modified Tour and its Southwest Modified Tour, including a first-time visit at the legendary Hickory (NC) Motor Speedway.

  4. Blast from the past: British video shows what NHRA was like back in 1990

    Dec 17, 2014, 7:23 PM EST

    (AP Photo/NHRA) AP

    Do you like watching old racing videos and programs from the past? If so, you’re going to love this BBC video about NHRA drag racing from back in 1990.

  5. NASCAR America: Kurt Busch testifies in protection order hearing (video)

    Dec 17, 2014, 6:38 PM EST

    (AP Photo/Terry Renna, File) AP

    Kurt Busch got the chance to tell his side in the legal battle with former girlfriend Patricia Driscoll. We break down what Kurt said in court on NASCAR America.

  6. Kurt Busch calls ex-girlfriend’s allegations a ‘fabrication’

    Dec 17, 2014, 5:16 PM EST

    Kurt Busch and Patricia Driscoll in happier times at the 2013 NASCAR Awards Banquet in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Eric Jamison, File) AP

    Kurt Busch testified Wednesday he asked former girlfriend Patricia Driscoll numerous times to leave his motorcoach on the night she claims the NASCAR driver struck her head several times.

  7. Daytona Rising begins race to finish line of Phase 1

    Dec 17, 2014, 3:03 PM EST

    daytona rising logo

    The race to the finish line of Phase 1 of Daytona Rising at Daytona International Speedway kicked into high gear Wednesday, with a record 1,002 construction workers on-site.

  8. Insight: Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup’s presence in F1, and America

    Dec 17, 2014, 3:00 PM EST

    Photo: Porsche Photo: Porsche

    Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup’s status grew in 2014. We caught up with the series manager during Austin F1 weekend.

  9. Expect IndyCar’s Hinch, RHR in Rolex 24 rides

    Dec 17, 2014, 1:30 PM EST

    James Hinchcliffe, Ryan Hunter-Reay AP

    At least two IndyCar stars will join the Rolex 24 lineup, but teams are TBD.

  10. Ben Kennedy, great-grandson of NASCAR founder Bill France Sr., signs with Red Horse Racing

    Dec 17, 2014, 1:23 PM EST

    (Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images) Getty Images

    Ben Kennedy, the great-grandson of NASCAR founder Bill France Sr. and 2014 Camping World Truck Series Rookie of the Year, will race for Red Horse Racing in 2015, the team announced Wednesday.

  11. NASCAR: Top drivers of 2014 – No. 14 Greg Biffle

    Dec 17, 2014, 12:46 PM EST

    (David Becker/Getty Images) Getty Images

    As we continue our series on the top 30 drivers of the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, next up is series veteran Greg Biffle.

  12. IndyCar: Hinchcliffe completes “get to know you” first test with SPM

    Dec 17, 2014, 12:10 PM EST

    Road America Getty Images

    James Hinchcliffe tests Tuesday at Sebring with Schmidt Peterson.

  13. Top NASCAR stories of 2014: No. 14 – Matt Crafton doubles up in the Trucks

    Dec 17, 2014, 12:00 PM EST

    NASCAR Nationwide and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Banquet Getty Images

    Crafton made history in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series this year as its first back-to-back champion.

  14. NASCAR: Top drivers of 2014 – No. 13 A.J. Allmendinger

    Dec 17, 2014, 11:00 AM EST

    GoBowling.com 400 - Practice Getty Images

    Allmendinger propelled his single-car team into the Chase with a win at Watkins Glen.

  15. IndyCar: Coyne makes first offseason announcement with new shock engineer

    Dec 17, 2014, 9:00 AM EST

    Shell Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston - Day 3 Getty Images

    No drivers, but DCR’s shock/damper program should be good in 2015.

  16. NASCAR AMERICA: The end is coming for the Sprint era (VIDEO)

    Dec 16, 2014, 8:04 PM EST

    Ford EcoBoost 400 Getty Images

    It’s not an ideal situation for NASCAR, but as the NASCAR AMERICA gang explained today, it’s not a hopeless one either.

  17. Kurt Busch’s ex-girlfriend testifies in protection order hearing

    Dec 16, 2014, 7:14 PM EST

    kurt busch sonoma Getty Images

    Patricia Driscoll broke down on the stand during the hearing in Dover, Delaware.

Video from NASCAR America

Can next sponsor invigorate NASCAR?
Top 10 NASCAR Driver Searches
  1. D. Suarez (1964)
  2. M. Tifft (1913)
  3. K. Busch (1864)
  4. J. Boston (1818)
  5. A. Self (1738)
  1. C. Coughlin (1375)
  2. S. Heckert (1257)
  3. K. Larson (1243)
  4. D. Kwasniewski (1171)
  5. K. Busch (1107)