NELSON PIQUET JR. BRINGS HOME A SIXTH PLACE FINISH IN HIS NASCAR DEBUT DAYTONA BEACH, FL. (February 13)- Making the transition to NASCAR from Formula 1, Nelson Piquet Jr. made a statement at Daytona International Speedway on Saturday night.
NELSON PIQUET JR. BRINGS HOME A SIXTH PLACE FINISH IN HIS NASCAR DEBUT
DAYTONA BEACH, FL. (February 13)- Making the transition to NASCAR from Formula 1, Nelson Piquet Jr. made a statement at Daytona International Speedway on Saturday night. Facing a learning curve due to the substantial differences between the two types of racing, Piquet proved he can be competitive behind any steering wheel. Right at home in the #1 Red Horse Racing Toyota Tundra, Piquet ran in the top-10 for much of the 100-lap event. Working the draft to his advantage, he was able to bring home a sixth place finish in his first NASCAR race.
In preparation for the NextEra Energy Resources 250, Piquet ran the ARCA RE/MAX event at Daytona to help acclimate him to stock cars and the fast-pace, bump-drafting racing Daytona International Speedway is famous for. Two practice sessions in the #1 on Wednesday and Thursday gave Piquet a taste of how the truck would feel during the race. Happy with its race set-up, he put the #1 in the 22nd starting spot for the season opener scheduled for Friday night. Mother Nature had other plans in mind. Rain showers plagued the area all day on Friday and the race was postponed to Saturday night.
When the green flag dropped shortly after 7:30pm, Piquet instantly looked like a veteran on the high banks of Daytona. A few trucks got together right in front of the #1 and Piquet was able to dodge the wreck and get through it totally unscathed. Amazed at their driver's quick reflexes, the #1 team had a feeling it would be a good night.
Piquet restarted 15th on lap eight and quickly got familiar with the feel of his truck in the draft. Moving around to see what lines would be better; Piquet told the team that his Tundra felt pretty good. The caution flag waved on lap 19 and crew chief Rick Gay called his driver to pit road for the first time. Picking up four fresh tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment, Piquet restarted 13th. He quickly worked his way inside the top-10. Piquet was able to dodge another wreck that happened right in front of him on lap 32. Escaping severe damage, he headed to pit road under caution on lap 38 for fuel only. Working a different pit strategy, the #1 restarted the race from the second position. Piquet held his own up front until his drafting help disappeared and he slipped back to the 11th spot before more help arrived. Piquet radioed his crew that the truck felt just a little tight. The condition didn't seem to bother him much as he once again climbed to the third spot on lap 47.
A caution flag came out on lap 50 and Piquet once again headed for pit road. Picking up four fresh tires and fuel on lap 52, the #1 restarted eighth. Just past the half way point of the race, Piquet was making drafting look easy. Running in the fifth position, he was disappointed to see another caution on lap 61. Hitting pit road again for four fresh tires and fuel on lap 63, Piquet picked up spots on pit road and restarted from the second spot.
When the green flag waved, Piquet didn't have drafting help and slipped back to fourth. He and his teammate in the #17 hooked up together and Piquet helped push Timothy Peters too the front. Another caution came out on lap 73 and Gay called the #1 back to pit road. Picking up four tires, fuel and a small adjustment, Piquet restarted 11th with just over 20 laps remaining in the race.
The #1 Red Horse Racing Tundra found its way back inside the top-10. Piquet was fighting for every position, eventually claiming the seventh spot when the caution flag flew again on lap 83. Opting to stay out, he restarted from the seventh spot for the last 13 laps. With the trucks up front making bold moves, Piquet settled into the bottom line of trucks and waited for the right time to strike. With just a hand full of laps remaining, Piquet ducked out into the high groove. With drafting help behind him, he picked up a few spots but the bottom groove seemed to have more steam. With every truck trading positions in the final laps, Piquet held on and crossed the start finish line in the sixth spot, earning a top-10 finish in his NASCAR debut. Red Horse Racing teammate Timothy Peters won the NextEra Energy Resources 250.