Villeneuve back with Green to find sponsor for NASCAR adventure

Full story: The Canadian Press

- Jacques Villeneuve hopes to have everything in place to relaunch his NASCAR career in time for his hometown race - the Napa Auto Parts 200 on Aug. 2 in Montreal.The 1997 Formula One champion appeared at a packed news conference at his trendy downtown restaurant Newtown on Wednesday with Barry Green, who owned and ran the teams with whom he won Atlantic and CART championships and the Indianapolis 500 in the mid-1990s.Green is acting as Villeneuve's business manager, mainly to find sponsorship to get a full-time ride in stock cars.Villeneuve will take a second crack at winning the Le Mans 24 Hours race in June, then hopes to find a new home in NASCAR."Right now, the Le Mans 24 Hours with Peugeot is very important, but at the same time, we have to build a strong (NASCAR) program not just for a few races, but for the next five or 10 years," said Villeneuve."A good starting point would be Montreal. And the best situation would then be to finish the season in (Sprint) Cup cars. If a sponsor wants to move earlier, that would be great. I wouldn't say no."Villeneuve recently parted with long-time manager Craig Pollock, but found he was out of his element trying to raise financial backing on his own.He financed his own brief foray into stock cars and trucks last summer, and was invited by Bill Davis Racing to drive a car that was noticeably bare of corporate logos at last week's Daytona 500, where he failed to qualify for the main race.Villeneuve realized he needed professional help to find sponsors and called Green, who was comfortably retired back home in Australia."Barry's been a big help in slowing me down, forcing me to think a bit and not think as a racer, but making sure we have a business plan and we know where we're going," the 36-year-old driver said."That's not an easy thing. My wife said that we should do that a month ago and I didn't listen to her."At the back of the room was Stephen Bronfman, son of former Montreal Expos owner Charles Bronfman, who said he would try to "open doors" to the corporate world for Villeneuve.It seems a natural.Villeneuve is one of the best known drivers in motor racing and has titles from every series he has entered, although he hasn't done much winning since the decision to leave the powerful Williams team to join Pollock in launching the start-up BAR F1 team in 1999.Green said finding companies willing to back a racing team is difficult no matter how good the driver is."It's a very tough business for a sponsor to measure," said Green. "It's all about winning."At Daytona, there were quite a number of good cars unsponsored there. I've been in racing many years, running teams, and every year there has been some famous team or driver struggling to get sponsorship. It's about finding the sponsor that wants to become part of the partnership and working together to get results."Green said the main target for now is Canadian companies who may want to latch onto the sport's growing popularity. NASCAR will also have added Canadian presence this year with Patrick Carpentier of Joliette, Que., driving for the Gillett Evernham team.Villeneuve's drawing power at home is unquestioned. He had little new to say at his news conference, but still drew more than 50 media people.And he knows that NASCAR is where he wants to be, although he's willing to start out on the second-tier Nationwide series or even in Craftsman Trucks."There's F1 and NASCAR - those are the two professional ones," he said. "They're two extremes, so they don't compete with each other, but they're both exciting."As a driver, I've done what I have to do in F1, so what challenge is left apart from Le Mans, which is a special race?"When he failed to qualify at Daytona, some felt Villeneuve would walk away from stock cars, but he appears more determined than ever to get back on the track.He was a little peeved that some interpreted his decision not to stay for the main race as a sign of disloyalty to Davis Racing."What people forget is that when you don't qualify, the whole team leaves - the truck leaves and you leave," he said. "That's how it is at every race."Then, all of sudden I'm being criticized for not being there to support the team. I didn't qualify. What will I do at the race track, stand there with my hands in my pockets all day?"The Davis team is now looking for another driver, which Villeneuve said was understandable because he has yet to raise sponsor money.Green estimated that it takes between US$15-$25 million to run a car full-time on the Sprint Cup circuit.
Comments
1 - 6 of 6 Comments Last updated Mar 7, 2008
lucky

Chapleau, Canada

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#1
Mar 3, 2008
 
get tim hortons or canadian tire to sponsor you they have deep pockets
Say What

Dryden, Canada

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#2
Mar 3, 2008
 
Canadian Tire already sponsors the Canadian branch NASCAR series and Tim Hortons has been American owned for some time now.
BSP

Canada

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#3
Mar 3, 2008
 
Where's BRP???

Since: Apr 07

United States

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#4
Mar 3, 2008
 
He should get Green to get him an IRL ride.
Sessions

Coquitlam, Canada

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#5
Mar 3, 2008
 
Being an X Montrealer, having a Bronfman say he will help open doors is like been given the keys to the city. If Jacques wishes to devote the next decade to Nascar It would be an injustice not to back him. Whom ever does come to the party will reap strong returns. His talent is greater than many estimate due to the sub standard equipment he drove in the later years in F1.
Give him good equipment and a little time to grasp the Nascar techniques aand he'll fine his way to the front.

Sessions
johnny

Burlington, Canada

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#6
Mar 7, 2008
 
ballsillie cant get in the NHL so why not nascar do something positive for canadians and exellent exposure to sell more blackberries.or maybe one of our banks that are reaping record profits year after year it will be interesting to see who will have the guts to go racing on nascar level.A whole racing team has to be assembled so sponsors will have to be commited for 2-3 years in order to become competitive bill davis has left the door open for jacques once he lands a sponsor in the 27 car.

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