Former F1, Indy 500 champ Jacques Villeneuve focused on Daytona 500


The next race is always the most important to any driver, but next weekend’s Daytona 500 carries additional significance to Jaques Villeneuve.

“The Daytona 500 is one of the three big races on the planet,” said Villeneuve, who won the 1995 Indianapolis 500 and the 1997 Formula 1 championship.

“You have the Le Mans 24 Hours (he finished second there in 2008), the Indy 500 and Daytona, so that’s one reason for doing it.”

While drivers with Formula 1 experience have raced in the Daytona 500, no former F1 champion has competed in NASCAR’s biggest event of the season. Mario Andretti won the 1967 Daytona 500, but he didn’t claim his F1 championship until 1978.

There is no guarantee Villeneuve will make this year’s field. At least five cars are expected for the four spots to non-chartered teams, including Villeneuve’s Team Hezeberg. 

The organization seeks to make its first Cup race at Daytona and run the six road courses this season with Loris Hezemans, the 2019 and ’21 EuroNASCAR Pro champion.

Villeneuve will battle at least Kaz Grala, Timmy Hill, JJ Yeley and Noah Gragson for a spot in the Daytona 500.

Villeneuve attempted to make the 2008 Daytona 500, but he crashed in his qualifying race and did not make the 500. 

“It’s a little bit of a gamble when you have to qualify during the Duels,” Villeneuve said. “You could be the quickest car out there and still get caught out. When I tried to qualify years ago … the car was quick, but then I got caught up in a crash and then you don’t make the show. It’s very stressful.”

Jacques Villeneuve
Jacques Villeneuve celebrates with the Williams team after the European Grand Prix in Jerez, Spain. Villeneuve finished third in the race and won the Formula 1 championship. (Photo: Mark Thompson/Allsport)

Villeneuve has four Cup starts. His best finish was 21st at Talladega in 2007. He has nine Xfinity starts. Villeneuve’s best finish in that series was third at Montreal (2010, 2012) and Road America (2011). He ran seven Camping World Truck Series in 2007. His best finish there was 14th at Atlanta. 

The 50-year-old Villeneuve’s resume includes 11 F1 wins, including seven in his championship season and six in open-wheel, including the Indy 500. 

His Indianapolis 500 victory came before Chase Elliott and Tyler Reddick were born. Villeneuve’s Formula 1 title in 1997 came before six current drivers were born, including William Byron, Cole Custer and Austin Cindric. 

Even though Villeneuve is with one of the smaller teams in the series, that doesn’t diminish his excitement to race.

“After I won F1 and the Indy 500, I guess it could be a difficult decision to take because if you don’t make the show, you could damage your reputation,” he said. “You can damage the 30 years of hard work you put in your career. So there’s always a big risk involved in that aspect, but I just love racing. 

“I’m passionate. I’m alive when I’m behind a steering wheel. The bigger the race, the better.”

NASCAR Cup playoff standings after Coca-Cola 600


The severe penalty to Chase Briscoe and his Stewart-Haas Racing team Wednesday for a counterfeit part dropped Briscoe from 17th to 31st in the season standings. Briscoe now must win a race to have a chance at the playoffs.

The penalty came a day after NASCAR suspended Chase Elliott one race for his retaliation in wrecking Denny Hamlin in Monday’s Coca-Cola 600. Elliott is 28th in the points. The 2020 Cup champion also needs to win to have a chance to make the playoffs.

Ten drivers have won races, including Coca-Cola 600 winner Ryan Blaney. That leaves six playoff spots to be determined by points at this time. With 12 races left in the regular season, including unpredictable superspeedway races at Atlanta (July 9) and Daytona (Aug. 26), the playoff standings will change during the summer.

Among those without a win this season are points leader Ross Chastain and former champions Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski and Elliott.

Here’s a look at the Cup playoff standings heading into Sunday’s Cup race at World Wide Technology Raceway in Madison, Illinois. Drivers in yellow have won a race and are in a playoff position. Those below the red line after 16th place are outside a playoff spot in the graphic below.

NASCAR issues major penalties to Chase Briscoe team for Charlotte infraction


NASCAR fined crew chief John Klausmeier $250,000 and suspended him six races, along with penalizing Chase Briscoe and the No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing team 120 points and 25 playoff points each for a counterfeit part on the car.

The issue was a counterfeit engine NACA duct, said Elton Sawyer, NASCAR senior vice president of competition, on Wednesday. That is a single-source part.

MORE: Updated Cup playoff standings

The team stated that it accepts the L3 penalty.

“We had a quality control lapse and a part that never should’ve been on a car going to the racetrack ended up on the No. 14 car at Charlotte,” said Greg Zipadelli in a statement from the team. “We accept NASCAR’s decision and will not appeal.”

Asked how then piece could have aided performance, Sawyer said Wednesday: “Knowing the race team mentality, they don’t do things that would not be a benefit to them in some way, shape or form from a performance advantage.”

The penalty drops Briscoe from 17th in the season standings to 31st in the standings. Briscoe goes from having 292 points to having 172 points. He’ll have to win to make the playoffs. Briscoe has no playoff points at this time, so the penalty puts him at -25 playoff points should he make it.

Briscoe’s car was one of two taken to the R&D Center after Monday’s Coca-Cola 600 for additional tear down by series officials.

The penalty comes a day after NASCAR suspended Chase Elliott one race for wrecking Denny Hamlin in last weekend’s race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

NASCAR Championship Weekend returns to Phoenix in 2024


Phoenix Raceway will host the championship races for the Cup, Xfinity, Craftsman Truck and ARCA Menards Series in 2024, NASCAR announced Wednesday.

The races will be held Nov. 1-3, 2024. The Cup season finale will be Nov. 3, 2024. The only other Cup race for 2024 that has been announced is the Daytona 500. It will be held Feb. 18, 2024.

Phoenix Raceway has hosted the championship finale for Cup, Xfinity and Trucks since 2020. Chase Elliott won the Cup title there in 2020. Kyle Larson followed in 2021. Joey Logano won the crown there in 2022.

This year’s Cup finale at Phoenix will be Nov. 5 and air on NBC.



Drivers to watch at World Wide Technology Raceway


After the fireworks from the Coca-Cola 600, NASCAR heads to World Wide Technology Raceway, a 1.25-mile speedway just outside of St. Louis. Sunday’s race (3:30 p.m. ET on FS1) marks the second time the Cup Series has raced at this track.

Much is at stake. The race to win the regular season championship has intensified. Tempers are high. The pressure to make the playoffs builds. Ten drivers have wins this season. Twelve races remain in the regular season.


Kyle Larson

  • Points position: 11th
  • Best finish this season: 1st (Richmond, Martinsville)
  • Past at WWTR: 12th last year

While a driver coming off back-to-back finishes of 20th or worse might not seem like a frontrunner, it actually does make Larson one. His topsy-turvy season has seen him place outside the top 10 in back-to-back races four times. In the three previous times he had consecutive finishes outside the top 10, he came back to finish second, first and second. Can he keep that streak going this weekend?

Bubba Wallace

  • Points position: 15th
  • Best finish this season: 4th (Las Vegas I, Kansas I, Coca-Cola 600)
  • Past at WWTR: 26th last year

Wallace has scored three consecutive top-five finishes, his best streak in his Cup career. He has climbed from 21st to 15th in the standings during this run.

William Byron

  • Points position: 3rd
  • Best finish this season: 1st (Las Vegas I, Phoenix I, Darlington I)
  • Past at WWTR: 19th last year

Byron has finished no worse than seventh in the last five races. He’s led nearly 20% of the laps run during that time. Byron has averaged nearly 47 points a race during that streak.


Corey LaJoie

  • Points position: 20th
  • Best finish this season: 4th (Atlanta I)
  • Past at WWTR: 36th last season

NASCAR’s one-race suspension to Chase Elliott gives LaJoie the chance to drive a Hendrick Motorsports car for the first time. This will be the best car LaJoie has driven in his career. Many eyes will be on him to see how he does.

Ross Chastain

Chastain has finished 29th and 22nd in the last two points races. He’s not gone more than three races without a top-10 finish this season. After his struggles last weekend at Charlotte, Chastain saw his lead cut to one point over Coca-Cola 600 winner Ryan Blaney in the standings. Five drivers are within 17 points of Chastain in the season standings.

Aric Almirola

  • Points position: 26th
  • Best finish this season: 6th (Martinsville I)
  • Past at WWTR: 5th last year

Almirola has finished 13th or worse in all but one race this season for Stewart-Haas Racing. In the five races since placing sixth at Martinsville, Almirola has finished an average of 21.0.