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. Dale Earnhardt Jr. ready for new crew chief Greg Ives to take him to the next level

    Jan 29, 2015, 8:30 PM EST

    From left to right, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Chase Elliott and Junior's new crew chief, Greg Ives. Getty Images

    When he went looking for a new crew chief to replace the soon-to-be departing Steve Letarte, Dale Earnhardt Jr. ultimately didn’t have to look very far.

  2. Kahne, Rodden gear up for better year in 2015

    Jan 29, 2015, 8:00 PM EST

    KahneMediaTour Getty Images

    Kasey Kahne looks for success with new crew chief… and another Super Bowl for his Seahawks.

  3. Track executive arrested, charged with lewdness with 19-year-old

    Jan 29, 2015, 7:30 PM EST

    Photo credit: NHMS Photo credit: NHMS

    Jerry Gappens, executive vice president and general manager of New Hampshire Motor Speedway was arrested last week and charged with indecent exposure and lewdness.

  4. Ryan Newman — and his brass knuckles — are ready to fight for Sprint Cup crown in 2015

    Jan 29, 2015, 6:33 PM EST

    ryan newman AP

    After coming so close last season, Ryan Newman is ready to fight for the Sprint Cup championship in 2015 — and he’s bringing his brass knuckles to give him a hand.

  5. Why Hendrick won’t retire the No. 24

    Jan 29, 2015, 6:01 PM EST

    Rick Hendrick, Jeff Gordon Rick Hendrick, Jeff Gordon

    Car owner Rick Hendrick said he consulted with Jeff Gordon about if to retire the No. 24 after this season.

  6. NASCAR America: One last chance for Jeff Gordon at Daytona

    Jan 29, 2015, 5:42 PM EST

    Jeff Gordon 2015 media tour Getty Images

    One week after announcing he was retiring after the 2015 season, Jeff Gordon told NASCAR America that he wants to win his final Daytona 500 and also walk away with his fifth career Sprint Cup championship.

  7. Brasilia IndyCar race is canceled

    Jan 29, 2015, 4:42 PM EST

    Sao Paulo Indy 300 - Day 2 Getty Images

    IndyCar’s Brasilia, Brazil race set for March 8 has been canceled.

  8. Jimmie Johnson is going for seven titles, but isn’t the story at Media Tour

    Jan 29, 2015, 4:35 PM EST

    JJmediatour Getty Images

    Jimmie Johnson will again embark on a quest for his seventh Cup title, but he acknowledged and embraced Thursday he’s not the story at Hendrick Motorsports for 2015.

  9. Rick Hendrick: No pressure on Jeff Gordon in final season, he just has to win 14 races and championship

    Jan 29, 2015, 4:12 PM EST

    Rick Hendrick isn't putting any pressure on Jeff Gordon by wanting 14 wins and a championship this season, right? AP

    There’s nothing like putting a little pressure on a guy, especially in his final season. Team owner Rick Hendrick expects Jeff Gordon to win 14 races and the championship in 2015!

  10. WATCH LIVE: NASCAR AMERICA at 4:30 p.m. ET wraps up NASCAR Media Tour

    Jan 29, 2015, 4:00 PM EST

    JGMediaTour AP

    Today’s NASCAR AMERICA runs for an hour and has a heavy No. 24 theme.

  11. McLaren goes back to the future, but can it return to its heyday?

    Jan 29, 2015, 3:30 PM EST

    McLaren-Honda Announces New Driver Line-Up For 2015 Getty Images

    Fernando Alonso and Honda return to McLaren for 2015, but will it prove to be a winning partnership?

  12. Larson not disappointed he won’t drive No. 24

    Jan 29, 2015, 2:41 PM EST

    Klye Larson, Jeff Gordon Klye Larson, Jeff Gordon

    Although he grew up a Jeff Gordon fan and was counseled by Gordon on his future, Kyle Larson will watch someone else drive the No. 24.

  13. One look at his wrist and Kyle Larson says it’s time to win races and Sprint Cup crown

    Jan 29, 2015, 2:35 PM EST

    Kyle larson rolex 24 2015 ap AP

    Fresh off a team win in the Rolex 24 at Daytona, Kyle Larson not only is keeping time better, he says it’s also time to win some races and contend for the Sprint Cup championship in 2015.

  14. Magnussen pushing for swift return to a full-time F1 seat

    Jan 29, 2015, 2:00 PM EST

    Kevin Magnussen AP

    Danish driver hopes a year in a reserve role at McLaren will help him get back into a full-time F1 seat in 2016.

  15. Column: Chase Elliott’s promotion perfectly timed for NASCAR

    Jan 29, 2015, 1:52 PM EST

    VFW Sport Clips Help A Hero 200 VFW Sport Clips Help A Hero 200

    The 2014 Xfinity Series champion is announced as Jeff Gordon’s successor a day before his father, Bill Elliott, is inducted in the Hall of Fame.

  16. GP3 champion Alex Lynn joins Williams as development driver

    Jan 29, 2015, 1:00 PM EST

    © GP3 Media Service © GP3 Media Service

    British youngster will combine this role with a full season in GP2 with DAMS.

  17. Chase Elliott will replace Jeff Gordon as No. 24 driver next season

    Jan 29, 2015, 12:10 PM EST

    Chase Elliott Chase Elliott

    The 2014 Xfinity Series champion will make his Sprint Cup debut in March before moving full time to NASCAR’s premier series in 2016.

  18. Dover Motorsports Inc. releases earnings report, sets sale of Nashville Superspeedway for end of February

    Jan 29, 2015, 11:51 AM EST

    Dover Motorsports INc. logo

    Dover Motorsports Inc., one of only two independent track ownership groups in NASCAR, released its fourth quarter and yearly earnings report on Thursday. That included significant news on the pending sale of the DMI-owned Nashville Superspeedway.

Video from NASCAR America

One final chance for Jeff Gordon at Daytona
Top 10 NASCAR Driver Searches
  1. J. Gordon (2026)
  2. J. Clements (1451)
  3. K. Schrader (1444)
  4. M. Waltrip (1313)
  5. K. Grala (1312)
  1. K. Larson (1291)
  2. M. Lira (1277)
  3. R. Hornaday Jr. (1216)
  4. B. Vickers (1133)
  5. J. McMurray (1097)