Skip to content

Pagenaud, Newgarden welcome Villeneuve to Indy 500

Mar 11, 2014, 12:00 PM EDT

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. Porsche powers to 1-2 in final Nürburgring WEC practice

    Aug 29, 2015, 4:38 AM EDT

    © FIA WEC © FIA WEC

    Marc Lieb storms to the top of the timesheets in the no. 18 Porsche, heading up a 1-2 finish in FP3.

  2. Power sets the pace in Sonoma’s Friday marathon session

    Aug 28, 2015, 9:11 PM EDT

    © INDYCAR © INDYCAR

    A long day on Friday ends with Will Power on top of the timesheets.

  3. Drivers reflect on Wilson at Sonoma (VIDEO)

    Aug 28, 2015, 8:11 PM EDT

    AP AP

    Quick series of interviews and tributes flow in for Justin Wilson on site at Sonoma.

  4. NHRA: Don Schumacher Racing releases Spencer Massey effective immediately

    Aug 28, 2015, 7:16 PM EDT

    AP AP

    The 10th place driver in NHRA Top Fuel standings gets released from his contract at DSR.

  5. Karam reflective, thinking of Wilson family upon heading to Sonoma

    Aug 28, 2015, 6:40 PM EDT

    AP AP

    Sage Karam speaks with reporters Friday at Sonoma Raceway.

  6. MotoGP: Marquez, Lorenzo lead the way in British GP practice at Silverstone

    Aug 28, 2015, 5:00 PM EDT

    BRNO, CZECH REPUBLIC - AUGUST 14:  Marc Marquez of Spain and Repsol Honda Team rounds the bend during the MotoGp of Czech Republic - Free Practice at Brno Circuit on August 14, 2015 in Brno, Czech Republic.  (Photo by Mirco Lazzari gp/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Marquez and Lorenzo continue their fight at the front of the MotoGP field in practice at Silverstone on Friday.

  7. Renault e.dams confirms Prost and Buemi for upcoming Formula E season

    Aug 28, 2015, 3:30 PM EDT

    E.Dams-Renaults Swiss driver Sebastien Buemi drives during qualifying practice at the 2015 FIA Formula E London ePrix championship at Battersea Park in London on June 28, 2015. AFP PHOTO / IAN KINGTON        (Photo credit should read IAN KINGTON/AFP/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Prost and Buemi retained by the defending teams’ champion for season two.

  8. Lieb: Porsche pumped up following Le Mans success

    Aug 28, 2015, 2:30 PM EDT

    Germany's Marc Lieb steers his Porsche 919 during the 83rd Le Mans 24-hours endurance race, on June 14, 2015 in Le Mans, western France. Fifty-six cars with 168 drivers participate on June 13 and 14 in the Le Mans 24-hours endurance race. AFP PHOTO / GUILLAUME SOUVANT        (Photo credit should read GUILLAUME SOUVANT/AFP/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Porsche will debut a new aero kit at this weekend’s 6 Hours of Nürburgring in Germany.

  9. Bottas expected more from Williams in 2015

    Aug 28, 2015, 1:00 PM EDT

    SPA, BELGIUM - AUGUST 23:  Valtteri Bottas of Finland and Williams drives during the Formula One Grand Prix of Belgium at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps on August 23, 2015 in Spa, Belgium.  (Photo by Charles Coates/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Finnish driver admits Williams expected to be further ahead than it is.

  10. Audi on top once again in second Nürburgring WEC practice

    Aug 28, 2015, 12:15 PM EDT

    The Audi R18 E-Tron Quattro No7 of the Audi Sport Team Joest driven by Marcel Fassler of Switzerland, Andre Lotterer of Germany and Benoit Treluyer of France is seen in action during the first qualifying practice session of the 83rd 24-hour Le Mans endurance race, in Le Mans, western France, Wednesday, June 10, 2015. The race will begin on Saturday, June 13. (AP Photo/David Vincent) AP

    Benoit Treluyer shoots to the top of the timesheets late on in FP2.

  11. Hamilton unmoved by FIA Pole Trophy success

    Aug 28, 2015, 11:30 AM EDT

    xxxx during qualifying for the Formula One Grand Prix of Belgium at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps on August 22, 2015 in Spa, Belgium. Getty Images

    Hamilton wrapped up the second annual FIA Pole Trophy last weekend in Belgium.

  12. Mallya targeting top-four finish for Force India in 2016

    Aug 28, 2015, 10:00 AM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of Hungary - Practice Getty Images

    Mallya expresses his delight in Force India’s form despite having a smaller workforce and budget than many of its rivals.

  13. Button tests World RX car, following in his father’s footsteps

    Aug 28, 2015, 9:00 AM EDT

    © World RX © World RX

    Button’s father John raced in rallycross during the 1970s and 1980s.

  14. Preview: IndyCar will race to honor Wilson, and to close its season, at Sonoma

    Aug 28, 2015, 8:00 AM EDT

    AP AP

    Montoya, Rahal the two likely contenders to claim Power’s crown, as IndyCar looks for solace and a great race to end the season and ease the pain after the loss of Justin Wilson.

  15. Audi quickest in opening WEC practice at the Nürburgring

    Aug 28, 2015, 7:44 AM EDT

    <> on June 13, 2015 in Le Mans, France. Getty Images

    First blood to Audi as its battle with Porsche is rekindled on home soil.

  16. Andretti to field No. 25 car at Sonoma; Oriol Servia to drive Wilson tribute car

    Aug 27, 2015, 6:14 PM EDT

    ServiaRLLreturn Getty Images

    Oriol Servia will race in what was Justin Wilson’s car this weekend at Sonoma.

  17. IndyCars cross the Golden Gate Bridge; pay tribute to Justin Wilson (PHOTOS, VIDEO)

    Aug 27, 2015, 4:21 PM EDT

    © INDYCAR © INDYCAR

    IndyCars cross the Golden Gate Bridge in a motorcade, for pre-title buildup and to pay tribute to Justin Wilson.

  18. Aleshin geared up ahead of IndyCar return at Sonoma

    Aug 27, 2015, 4:00 PM EDT

    TORONTO - JULY 18:  Mikhail Aleshin of Russia driver of the #7 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Dallara Honda during practice for the Verizon IndyCar Series Honda Indy Toronto on the streets of Toronto on July 18, 2014, in Toronto, Canada.  (Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Aleshin returns to IndyCar this weekend after a year away.