Villeneuve back at Brickyard chasing Indy 500 magic

Sat May 24, 2014 3:53pm EDT
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By Steve Keating

INDIANAPOLIS (Reuters) - Much has changed in the motor racing world since Jacques Villeneuve pulled his car into Victory Lane 19 years ago and chugged on the traditional quart of milk that goes to the Indianapolis 500 winner.

Back at the Brickyard to run the 500 for the first time in nearly two decades, and where the youngest driver in Sunday's race was two months old when the Canadian won here in 1995, Villeneuve has had to familiarize himself with a new car, new rules and new faces.

Even Villeneuve appears different, evolved from the intense, humorless competitor that captured the Formula One drivers crown in 1997.

By his own admission, the Quebecer has mellowed, now more patient on and off the race track. But listen to Villeneuve for a moment and it is as if time has stood still.

While his delivery may be different, the 43-year-old remains as opinionated and outspoken as ever, still as fearless at speaking his mind as he is behind the wheel.

Since leaving Formula One in 2006, Villeneuve has been a racing nomad, getting his speed fix wherever he could find it; NASCAR and Nationwide stockcar and truck series, the 24 Hours of Le Mans, V8 Supercars in Australia and World Rally Cross.

It was that need for speed that finally lured Villeneuve back to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

"It's great to be back at those speeds because there is nothing that compares to it," said a smiling Villeneuve. "It was almost too fast. The first 20 laps were a shock to the system.   Continued...