Nelson Piquet, Jr. Humbled by ARCA Racing Series Debut DAYTONA BEACH, Florida (Wednesday, February 10, 2010) - Formula One driver Nelson Piquet, Jr., was disappointed by his stock car racing debut in the ARCA Racing Series presented by RE/MAX...
Nelson Piquet, Jr. Humbled by ARCA Racing Series Debut
DAYTONA BEACH, Florida (Wednesday, February 10, 2010) - Formula One driver Nelson Piquet, Jr., was disappointed by his stock car racing debut in the ARCA Racing Series presented by RE/MAX and Menards but recognizes the incidents in the Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200 were all part of the learning curve when racing a 3,400 lb. stock car. The driver of the No. 6 Eddie Sharp Racing Toyota experienced a strong start, but late-race incidents relegated Piquet, Jr. to a disappointing 27th place finish.
"Running the ARCA race was a great education for me," said Piquet, Jr. "There are very few similarities between open-wheel and stock cars, and that was evident to me during the first practice."
Piquet, Jr. practiced 20th fastest in what was ultimately the only session of the weekend, earning a best time of 50.004 seconds (179.986 MPH). Piquet, Jr. picked up speed in qualifying on Friday afternoon, laying down a lap time of 49.966 seconds and earning a 7th place starting position in the Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200. Unfortunately, rain washed out the Happy Hour session later that evening, which was supposed to allow competitors the opportunity to draft, stealing valuable track time from the ARCA rookie.
For the son of three-time Formula One Series Champion Nelson Piquet, the first opportunity to experience drafting at 200 MPH was when the green flag waved at Daytona International Speedway, forcing the 24-year-old to learn quickly, surrounded by 42 other racecars.
For much of the race, Piquet, Jr. remained at the front of the pack, running in the top-5 or just outside, while his competitors got caught up in multi-car wrecks and pit road mishaps. After a serious wreck brought out the red flag for more than 20 minutes, Piquet, Jr. was unable to restart the No. 6 ESR Toyota when the field returned to yellow. Forced to restart from the back of the pack, Piquet, Jr. once again made his way into the top-5.
Unfortunately, as laps wound down and racing got more heated, the Brazilian driver was involved in two incidents: Piquet, Jr. made contact with nine-time series champion, Frank Kimmel, which ultimately look Kimmel out of the race, and was involved in a late-race spin with Danica Patrick. As a result of the incidents, he slipped back to 27th.
Piquet, Jr. will get another chance at Daytona International Speedway when he returns this weekend for his NASCAR debut in the Camping World Truck Series with Red Horse Racing. Piquet, Jr. hopes to make the transition from open wheel to stock car races and will race in selected ARCA and Camping World Truck Series races during the 2010 season.
Ultimately, Piquet, Jr. felt good about his performance, despite the disappointing finish and hopes to utilize his experience from the ARCA race when he returns this weekend. "I had a solid weekend, but unfortunately, drafting practice was rained-out, so my first experience running side-by-side was in the race," said Piquet, Jr. "I apologize to anyone I made contact with this weekend. I learned a lot, and I will take that knowledge back to Daytona for the Truck Series race this weekend. The race was very exciting, and I had such a great time participating in my first ARCA event. I am very dedicated to doing what ever it takes to be successful in stock car racing."
"I have realistic expectations, and I know that this kind of racing is not easy," he continued. "I have a good team and good people behind me whom I am relying on to help me with my development. My goal is to complete all the laps and continue to gain experience."
Piquet, Jr.'s spotter, Mike Calinoff, expressed his confidence in the driver's ability. "I'm very proud of what Nelson was able to accomplish this weekend. We had a few incidents in the ARCA race, but he clearly showed just how talented he is in a race car. It's going to take time for him to get used to the heavy stock cars, but I have no doubt that he can successfully make the transition."
Piquet, Jr. returns to Daytona International Speedway in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series on Friday, Feb 12.
-source: nelson piquet PR