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Friday, September 28, 2007
Gordon says Villeneuve should wait for smaller track

By Terry Blount and Angelique Chengelis
ESPN.com

KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- Jeff Gordon thinks it's a big mistake for former Formula One champion Jacques Villeneuve to attempt to make his Nextel Cup debut next week in the UAW-Ford 500 at Talladega Superspeedway.

"I love Jacques, but that's not the right decision to make," Gordon said Friday. "I didn't think it was the right decision last year for David Gilliland, either.

No Fourth For Childress

Nextel Cup team owner Richard Childress said Friday he has given up fielding a fourth Cup car full-time next season.

"The right opportunity was not there," Childress said.

Asked if that meant the right driver was not available, Childress pushed back his sunglasses and said: "The right opportunity was not there," he said again, smiling.

Scott Wimmer, however, could run a few Cup races for RCR next season. Wimmer has signed a Busch deal with the team for next year.

"The whole deal has not been worked out completely with [sponsor] Holiday Inn," Childress said. "He'll probably run a few Cup races."

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"Nothing against their talent or anything else, but that race in the Chase? Why? If you want to run a race, go to Atlanta or another 1.5-mile oval."

Gordon said he was surprised NASCAR gave it approval for Villeneuve to debut on the giant 2.6-mile oval. The Oct. 7 event is the first restrictor-plate race in the Car of Tomorrow.

Villeneuve made his NASCAR debut last weekend in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. He finished 21st, the first driver one lap down.

"I watched him in truck race and yeah, he did a nice job," Gordon said. "But he wasn't really in the thick of things. He just didn't bounce off anything. And he did OK in the test at Talladega, but that's not anything like racing there."

"I don't agree with it, but I'm not going to lose any sleep over it."

Mike Brown, general manager of Bill Davis Racing, said racing at Talladega was Villeneuve's idea.

"He really pushed us to enter a third car," Brown said Friday. "We trust his instincts. We've been pleased with every test he's had and real happy with his run in the truck race."

Villeveuve isn't the only open-wheel racer trying to make his Cup debut at Talladega. Three-time IndyCar Series champion Sam Hornish also will attempt to qualify for the race.

But Hornish has competed in six Busch races this season. He also attempted to qualify at New Hampshire and Dover the previous two weekends, but didn't make the field.

Juan Pablo Montoya made his stock car debut last season at Talladega, but he was competing in the ARCA event. Montoya started second and finished third.

Terry Blount and Angelique Chengelis cover NASCAR for ESPN.com