NNS: Jacques Villeneuve leads opening practice at Road America

In the first Nationwide Series practice at Road America, Jacques Villeneuve topped the charts with a lap of 133.564 seconds. He was six tenths quicker than Nelson Piquet Jr., who was second on the charts.

Last year, Villeneuve came home with a third place finish after qualifying in the third position.

“We had, ultimately, quite a good weekend even though the end of the race was a little bit too exciting,” he says. “It’s great to be back with the team and Discount Tire and mostly the same guys on the car.  Last year we went from here to Montreal, improved the crew and then went testing three weeks back.  I’m very confident.”

He added that his plan is to keep his nose clean for the whole race as he looks for his first ever Nationwide Series victory.

Meanwhile, Camping World Truck Series regular Nelson Piquet Jr. is making his third Nationwide Series start after making two previous starts – a 24th place finish at Homestead in 2010 and a seventh at Walkins Glen in 2011. He was second in practice with a lap of 134.211 seconds.

“I earned a top-10 in my very first Nationwide Series start, my first start on a road course in NASCAR, and I’ve grown a lot as a driver in the two years since then,” Piquet says. “The two tracks are quite different, but I spent a lot of my career on road courses before coming to NASCAR.”

Road course veteran ‘Mad’ Max Papis was third followed by Michael McDowell and Ron Fellows. Fellow is making his annual appearance in the Nationwide Series with JR Motorsports.

Sam Hornish Jr. was sixth, followed by Miguel Paludo, Justin Allgaier, Brian Scott, Jason Bowles and Jason Bowles. Brad Sweet was 11th with Danica Patrick in 12th. Allgaier had one incident during practice when he got in the wall, but he kept on going.

Points leader Elliott Sadler was 16th in practice.

Matthew Bell would bring out a caution during practice as he got in the wall. He is looking to make his first Nationwide Series start this weekend.