DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Could Jacques Villeneuve's plans to run a full season in Sprint Cup be coming apart just weeks before the season opener here in Daytona?
A major change in management for Villeneuve could indicate just that, as Yahoo! Sports has learned that the Canadian driver has dismissed long-time manager and business partner Craig Pollock.
Last season, following months of speculation and after his name was attached to several major team owners in the NASCAR garage, Villeneuve made his NASCAR debut with Bill Davis Racing. He competed in seven Craftsman Truck Series races and also made his controversial Cup debut at Talladega. Villeneuve also competed at Phoenix.
At the time, Villeneuve and Pollock announced plans to field a full-time Cup entry with BDR in 2008. But efforts to find the financial resources necessary for that effort have fallen short, with deadlines issued by both Toyota and BDR approaching rapidly.
Sources told Yahoo! Sports that Villeneuve, the former F1 world champion and Indy 500 winner, dismissed Pollock this week – under a cloud of controversy.
The two have known each other for nearly 20 years and together were partners in a host of ventures, including a restaurant and a car care products distribution business.
Recently, however, their relationship reportedly had begun to sour. And although Pollock had been able to put together two-thirds of the required financial package necessary to run a full Cup season, officials at Toyota and BDR demanded proof of a full financial package, sources said.
The relationship got even worse after Pollock, looking to take advantage of what he believed to be financial difficulties facing team owner Bill Davis, offered to purchase Davis' team outright.
Davis bristled at the notion, and Villeneuve was left to make a choice – Pollock or Davis. Shortly afterward, Villeneuve decided he needed to cut ties with Pollock.
Observers close to the situation say it was Pollock who perhaps was the main obstacle hindering Villeneuve's effort to find proper sponsorship, as stories of allegedly questionable tactics in Pollock's business dealings in Europe had made their way to North America.
With the start of the season rapidly approaching, Villeneuve likely will be forced to dig into his own pockets and provide the funding necessary – estimated to be in the millions of dollars – to begin the season.
Meanwhile, Villeneuve has several people – including Englishman James McArdle, who first met Villeneuve when both worked at the former F1 team British American Racing (BAR) – searching for money.
A detailed announcement regarding his future is expected to be made by the driver sometime next week.
- Craig Pollock