|© AP Photo/Miguel Costa, MF2
Rubens Barrichello will begin his first full season in Brazilian stock car racing on Sunday after more than two decades competing abroad.
Barrichello is back home after ending his Formula 1 career two years ago and failing to secure a seat for a second season in the IndyCar Series.
The 40-year-old Brazilian said he was not ready to retire just yet and decided to join the local series after driving a few races as a guest in 2012.
"Everyone is entitled to a restart," he told Globo TV. "And I'm giving myself this opportunity. I had a new beginning in the U.S. and now I'm having another one in Brazil, being closer to my family."
He doesn't dismiss racing in events such as the 24 Hours of Le Mans or the 24 Hours of Daytona in the future, but is not thinking about leaving the country again to race in other series.
Barrichello struggled in his three stock car races last year, finishing no better than 22nd, but was fastest in a practice session ahead of the season opener on Sunday and will start 14th in the 34-car grid.
"I have a lot of experience at Interlagos, but in a different type of car," Barrichello said. "I'm still getting to know this car, I still feel like I'm a rookie, but hopefully I'll be competitive."
Barrichello had been saying for a long time that he planned to retire from racing at the local stock car series, Brazil's most popular.
"My main opponent is still the car," he said. "I think today I'd still be more adapted to an F1 car than I am to the stock car. But this is not an excuse, my future now is here, I have to make it work. I have to adapt myself as quick as possible so I can succeed as quick as possible."
Last year he complained of all the bumping and banging he experienced in the series, saying he felt like he even needed a bullet-proof vest the next time he entered the track. Barrichello was 22nd in his first race, retired in his second and was 22nd again in the season finale at Interlagos.
"It's a different type of adventure," he said. "I have to get used to it, I know the other guys won't change."
Barrichello's best finish in IndyCar last year was fourth in Sonoma, California. He followed that with a fifth-place finish in Baltimore, but ended the year 12th in the drivers' championship.
The Brazilian raced for a record 19 years in F1, finishing second in the drivers' championship in 2002 and 2004 with Ferrari, both times behind seven-time champion Michael Schumacher. Barrichello won 11 races in F1 and holds the series' record for most starts with 322.
The stock car season will have 12 races this year, finishing on December 15 at Interlagos.