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Villeneuve returning to IndyCars.

Jacques Villeneuve is ready to make an IndyCar comeback.

Schmidt Peterson Motorsports said it has hired Villeneuve to race in this year's Indianapolis 500, 19 years after the Canadian driver first drank the milk in Victory Lane.

Villeneuve, 42, has been a television analyst, musician and RallyCross driver. But when Schmidt and co-owner Rick Peterson, also from Canada, made a serious offer, he couldn't refuse. The 500 is scheduled for May 25.

As an Indy rookie in 1994, he qualified fourth and finished second to Al Unser, Jr., and was named the race's rookie of the year.

The next season, he qualified fifth at Indy, and became the first and only Canadian winner of the race.

But after starting 33 races, winning six poles and five races in two IndyCar seasons, Villeneuve had a chance to join Formula One -- the series that made his late father, Gilles, a household name.

Like his dad, who died in a 1982 F1 qualifying crash, Villeneuve excelled with 163 career starts between 1996 and 2006. The younger Villeneuve reached the podium 23 times, won 11 races, 13 poles and claimed the 1997 world championship.

His journey back to North America began in 2007 when Villeneuve made the move to American stock cars. Over the next seven seasons, he dabbled in Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Le Mans series as well as sports cars.

Villeneuve regained interest in IndyCars last season as he watched how close and competitive the races had become.

Schmidt has always found a way to compete at Indy.

Getting Villeneuve might be the biggest coup of all for his low-budget team.

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Title Annotation:Motoring
Publication:Manila Bulletin
Date:Mar 13, 2014
Words:272
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