Nelson Piquet Jr. Finishes 12th in First Visit to Michigan with ARCA Racing Series; Eddie Sharp Racing Driver Kicks-Off Double Duty Weekend Brooklyn, Mich. (June 12, 2010)-In Nelson Piquet Jr.'s debut at Michigan International Speedway, the ...
Nelson Piquet Jr. Finishes 12th in First Visit to Michigan with ARCA Racing Series; Eddie Sharp Racing Driver Kicks-Off Double Duty Weekend
Brooklyn, Mich. (June 12, 2010)-In Nelson Piquet Jr.'s debut at Michigan International Speedway, the Brazilian-born driver finished 12th in the Racing for Wildlife 200 in the ARCA Racing Series presented by RE/MAX and Menards.
The weekend proved to be busy for Piquet as he was competing in the ARCA Racing Series event and the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, which raced Saturday afternoon.
Piquet kicked off his eventful weekend with ARCA Racing Series practice Thursday morning. The No. 6 Qualcomm-Eddie Sharp Racing Development Toyota had the 13th quickest in the two-hour session with a time of 39.608 seconds (181.781 mph). Later Thursday, Piquet qualified with a lap time of 39.041 seconds (184.422 mph), positioning him to start fifth for Friday's race.
Continuing his transition from open wheel to stock car racing, Piquet looked forward to the 100-lap race around the 2-mile Michigan oval. ESR teammate Craig Goess started from the pole position and took a commanding lead from the green flag. Not far behind, Piquet looked to score his first top-five finish in the ARCA Racing Series, during the 200-mile race.
Piquet took the green flag in the fifth position and battled an ill-handling car, dropping to the seventh position for the first green-flag run. Elated when a caution was called on lap 27 for debris on the track, the No. 6 team took the opportunity to change four tires, add fuel and make track bar adjustments when pit road opened on lap 31. The team hoped the changes would help the car's tight condition.
The next green-flag run proved fruitful, as Piquet worked his way to the front of the field. By lap 41, just six laps into the run, Piquet battled the No. 60 Toyota of Patrick Sheltra for the fifth position. While battling with Sheltra, Piquet radioed to the crew that the car was getting loose. The No. 6 car picked up the pace working past lap traffic and passed the No. 60 Toyota by lap 48. Once in the top-five, the former Formula-One driver had his sights on the fourth-place car of Steve Arpin. Five short laps later, Piquet utilized lap-traffic to pass Arpin three-wide for the fourth position.
By lap 56, the No. 6 Toyota started to tighten up, but Piquet assured the team it was not pushing too much, as he gained on the third place car of Clay Rogers. Coming into turn three on lap 62, the ARCA rookie drove hard into the corner, passing Rogers for third. As he came out of turn four, Piquet brushed the wall while completing the pass and radioed to the crew that the car was becoming tighter. The Brazilian driver was comfortable with how the car was driving and was making up time on the second-place car, until lap 65 when he began to worry that the car was becoming too tight.
The team elected to pit under green on lap 72, hoping an early stop to make adjustments would allow Piquet to catch up to the second-place car. As the crew changed left-side tires, the car fell off the jack, before all the tires could be changed. The team moved quickly to react to the troubles and hoped that the field would finish pit stops and a caution would allow Piquet to make up the positions lost. Unfortunately, a yellow flag was waved on lap 77 for the No. 17 of Chase Mattioli, as he spun coming in for a green-flag stop. The untimely yellow caught the No. 6 Toyota one lap down and destroyed the teams' hope of a top-five finish.
The final green flag waved on lap 82, with Piquet in the ninth position. Piquet continued to battle a tight car in the last 18 laps, finishing the race one lap down in the 12th position.
Although Piquet was looking for a solid top-five finish, the stockcar rookie was glad to have 200-miles of experience to help prepare him for the NCWTS race on Saturday. "In general, the set-up wasn't there. The car was too tight, which was disappointing. Thankfully, we will have a second chance tomorrow to leave the track with more success. I will enter the race tomorrow in a hungrier mood to win the race. In terms of experience, it was good. I learned a little bit more today."
Piquet's next scheduled ARCA Racing Series event is with Eddie Sharp Racing at Pocono Raceway on July 31, 2010.