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Danica Patrick gets in her car before practice for the Toyota Savemart 350 at Sonoma Raceway on Friday, June 21, 2013. (John Green/Bay Area News Group)

SONOMA -- Danica Patrick's feelings toward Jacques Villeneuve haven't softened any in the last year, with her saying Friday that "after the things that have happened, it's hard to have a lot of respect for someone like that."

"I respect what he's done in his career," Patrick said of Villeneuve, who is a former Formula One world champion and Indianapolis 500 winner, "but the way he treats other drivers on the track, I can't, so, that's all there is to say."

Patrick saw Villeneuve on Friday at the rookie orientation for Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway, "and I was like, 'Oh, hey,' " Patrick said. "And that was about it."

Sunday's race will be the first time the two drivers will compete against each other since two races on the Nationwide Series last year. Patrick is in her first full season in the Cup series, and Villeneuve is running this one race for Phoenix Racing.

In the final lap of the Sargento 200 at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wis., last June, the two were battling for fourth place when Villeneuve spun Patrick's car from behind and into the gravel. Villeneuve finished sixth and Patrick finished 12th.

Asked what the first word he thinks of to describe Villeneuve, Clint Bowyer, last year's winner in Sonoma, said: "Train wreck. Extremely fast train, but usually ends up derailed somehow."

Villeneuve is aware he enters Sunday's race with a reputation for aggressive, and sometimes reckless, driving.

"Last year I ran into Danica, and that was the worst thing you can do in racing," Villeneuve told The Associated Press on Friday. "It doesn't matter ultimately how or why it happened, that's enough to create this image and now I am stuck with it."

  • Marcos Ambrose knows Sunday's race represents what might be one of his final chances to turn around his season and improve his hopes of making the season-ending Chase for the Cup.

    Ambrose, author of two Cup road course victories at Watkins Glen and one of the more improbable gaffes in the history of racing at Sonoma Raceway, has only two top 10s in the first 15 races of the season and is 23rd in the standings.

    "I'm very mindful that we've had a terrible year and this is a really good opportunity to get our year back on track, so certainly there is added pressure there," Ambrose said Friday before the first Cup practice began. "We need to turn our year around, and this is a good opportunity for us."

    Ambrose, who drives for Richard Petty Motorsports, finished 18th in the Cup standings last season, which included eight top 10s and a win at Watkins Glen. He won the pole last year in Sonoma and finished eighth, making it four consecutive years he has finished in the top 10 here.

    Of course, it could be argued that he should have won here as well. In 2010, he led late in the race when the caution flag came out. He shut off his engine to help save fuel, but his car would not restart and he fell back in the field. He went on to finish sixth.

    "This track has eluded me for the victory," Ambrose said. "Some things were in my control and some have been outside, but this track is tough. It's not going to give it to you, and we feel like we have as good a shot as anyone here to win it."

  • Saturday's qualifying format will a first for Cup racing, as drivers will be in groups of five or six and be given five minutes to run as many as three qualifying laps. Cars will be sent out in five-second intervals, with the fastest cars earning the top spots for Sunday's race. Qualifying begins at 11:05 a.m.

    Groups were determined by lap times in Friday's first practice. The fastest drivers -- Ambrose, Juan Pablo Montoya, Casey Mears, Kurt Busch and Jamie McMurray -- will be in Saturday's final group.

    "It's nice to have in the back of your mind knowing that you have a little room for error if you have to run another lap," said Jeff Gordon, who will be in the third-to-last qualifying group.

  • Bowyer had the fastest lap in practice Friday, with a speed of 94.556 mph coming in the second session. Ten drivers had laps faster than 94 mph in the second practice session, compared with just one, Ambrose, in the first session.

    Race facts

    Where: Sonoma Raceway, Highways 37 and 121, Sonoma
    What: 16th race on the 36-race NASCAR Sprint Cup schedule
    TV: Saturday -- qualifying, 11 a.m., Speed; Sunday -- race, noon, TNT.