By Craig Murto - email@example.com
Former World Driving Champion Jacques Villeneuve needs to hang up his helmet and remain retired.
It's not just because he dumped Danica Patrick at Road America and robbed her of her best -- and well-deserved -- finish of the season. It's because it seems every time he straps himself into a race car, he proves that he can't get the job done.
Patrick led the NASCAR Nationwide race on the Wisconsin road course and battled some of the best road racers in the country, only to have Villeneuve run her off the track as the race headed to conclusion. The former Formula One and Indy car standout claimed that he couldn't brake after his car was body-slammed by Max Papis' machine.
But the more the video evidence is observed, the more it appears Villeneuve was doing what he's done every time he's strapped into a car in recent years; he was driving over his head, and left observers scratching their heads wondering how he ever claimed the F1 title. Villeneuve needs to hang up his driving helmet and never pick it up again.
Patrick, on the other hand, was a surprise. For once she really deserved all the attention TV paid to her; she drove like a pro, and if it hadn't been for Villeneuve's cluelessness, Patrick would have finished fourth. And it would have been because she raced for it, rather than fell into it due to attrition or lucked into it in a restrictor-plate race. Maybe she is learning her craft.
Nelson Piquet Jr. won the Nationwide race, the first Brazilian to win in one of NASCAR's top divisions. Son of a three-time F1 champion himself, Piquet is determined to make a career in American stock car racing.
Many drivers aiming for a career in stock car racing compete in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series, where Piquet won his first oval race at Bristol earlier this season.
The K&N Series competed at Langley Speedway in Hampton on Saturday night, and thrilled the crowd of 5,000 in attendance. Corey Lajoie won the race, beating Brett Moffitt and Chase Elliot. Lajoie is the son of former nationwide champ Randy Lajoie, and Elliot is the son of former NASCAR Cup champ Bill Elliot.
Winchester's Sergio Pena had a good run at Langley, finishing fifth. A talented racer who used to run at Shenandoah Speedway, Pena won a few times in NASCAR K&N competition last season but hasn't had the success in 2012 he's desired.
One of the observers at Langley was Brian Tidball, who handles PR at Virginia Motor Speedway. His track suffered a lightning strike that forced closure for a week, so Tidball got to see a pavement race. It was fitting that Lajoie won, as Virginia Motor Speedway was the sponsor on his car's hood.
Sometimes it's difficult to determine where racing success comes from. The Ferrari F1 team, for example, is known to have inferior equipment in 2012. Yet somehow -- probably due to the determination of driver Fernando Alonso -- the team sits atop the F1 points. The two-time world champion charged from 11th on the grid and won the European Grand Prix in Valencia, Spain, before his home crowd, beating other former champions Kimi Raikkonen and Michael Schumacher. It was Schumacher's first podium finish since 2006.
Brad Ritter won the Limited Late Model feature at Winchester Speedway, and Ed Aikin grabbed the win for URC Sprints. Doug Liberman grabbed the NASCAR Late Model win at Old Dominion Speedway, where Tony Harris won the Virginia Sprint Series feature. Rusty Sites got the Late Model win at Hagerstown Speedway.
Ryan Hunter-Reay made it two wins in a row -- both on ovals -- as he won IndyCar's race at Iowa Speedway. Who thought that Hunter-Reay would become a big winner on ovals?
Probably the same people who thought Clint Bowyer would become a road-racing specialist. But somehow Bowyer won the NASCAR Cup race at Sonoma, Calif., and proved that a former dirt Modified driver can learn how to race on a road course.
Tony Stewart had a good run, charging to second. Kurt Busch nearly won the race, and actually remained civil in post-race interviews. Brian Vickers proved that racing sports cars in Europe pays off, as he drove to finish fourth.
There were only two cautions in the entire event. There is one way to ensure more cautions when the Cup boys race at Watkins Glen; put Jacques Villeneuve in a car.
-- Veteran motorsports columnist Craig Murto is a Linden resident.