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Indy is a special place. We go there not to exist but to win the race,” Schmidt said. “To see a guy that finished second and finished first there, I don’t think he’s going to have any problem going back.”

Villeneuve becomes the fifth 500 winner on this year’s entry list. The others are three-time winner Helio Castroneves of Brazil, two-time winner Scott Dixon of New Zealand, 2000 winner Juan Pablo Montoya of Colombia and Brazil’s Tony Kanaan, the defending champ.

Another trip to Victory Lane would give Villeneuve two more milestones. He would break Al Unser’s record for the longest gap between first and last victories. Unser went 17 years between his first Indy crown in 1970 and his record-tying fourth win in 1987. Villeneuve also would break Gordon Johncock’s record for the longest gap between first and second wins at Indy, 1973 and 1982.

Villeneuve isn’t motivated by records. He wants to win.

“I’m a racer,” he said, explaining he does not plan to retire anytime soon. “I’ve got to find ways to get better and better and better, and I’m going there with a team that’s very experienced and has been very successful as well.”