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Villeneuve to make Indy 500 return

ESPN Staff
February 27, 2014 « Hopes grow for London Grand Prix | Perez leads the way on first morning of final test »
Jacques Villeneuve went to Victory Lane during his last appearance at Indy © Getty Images

Jacques Villeneuve will compete in this year's Indianapolis 500, 19 years after winning the prestigious open-wheel event.

Villeneuve, 42, has landed a drive with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports at the May 25 event, and will attempt to break Al Unser's record for the longest gaps between first and last victories at the historic race track, which currently stands at 17 years. Villeneuve finished second at the event in 1994, and went one better the following year as he claimed the CART title, before beginning his F1 career alongside Damon Hill at Williams in 1996.

In recent seasons he has dabbled in NASCAR's Sprint Cup and several sports car series' but this marks the first return to American open wheel racing, and he admits watching IndyCar in recent years left him itching for a return.

"IndyCar is growing again and that's why last year when I started watching races again, every time I watched I felt almost angry I wasn't there," Villeneuve said.

"To get this opportunity is a gift. A lot of people say when you have kids, you slow down. I want my kids to see me race. I'm a racer. I've got to find ways to get better and better and better, and I'm going there with a team that's very experienced and has been very successful as well."

Team co-owner Sam Schmidt believes the presence of a former Indy 500 winner and F1 champion is a boost to their chances.

"Indy is a special place. We go there not to exist but to win the race," Schmidt said. "To see a guy that finished second and finished first there, I don't think he's going to have any problem going back."