WELCOME TO ZOOMTOWN: When Nelson Piquet Jr. hits the track at Phoenix International Raceway (PIR), it will be the Brazilian's first laps at the 1.0-mile tri-oval. In fact, in his six career Truck Series starts, Piquet Jr. has never raced at a track shorter than 1.5-miles. However, over the off season, the Kevin Harvick Inc. (KHI) Truck Series teams held tests at Walt Disney World (Fla.) Speedway (1.0-mile) and Gresham (Ga.) Motorsports Park, (0.50-mile) where Piquet Jr. posted excellent lap times at both.
EU QUERO SEIS (I WANT SIX): The KHI Truck Series teams are no strangers to victory lane at Phoenix. In November, Clint Bowyer drove the No. 2 Chevrolet Silverado to the team's third consecutive and fifth total Truck Series win at Phoenix International Raceway. Piquet Jr. hopes to earn KHI its sixth victory at the track and continue their consecutive win steak when he gets behind the wheel this weekend.
HAPPY ANNIVERSARY: Phoenix International Raceway is a part of KHI's young history as the organization captured its first win at the desert track. KHI co-owner Kevin Harvick brought home the first win for the team at PIR in the Truck Series event in 2002. Harvick narrowly beat series veteran Ted Musgrave for the victory and became only the fifth driver in history to win a race in all three of NASCAR's national racing series.
CHASSIS HISTORY: The No. 8 team will utilize chassis No. 048 this weekend at Phoenix International Raceway. No. 048 is one of KHI's premiere short-track trucks, and it has been used seven times since it was built in July of last year. KHI co-owner Kevin Harvick drove No. 048 to victory lane in its maiden race at Gateway (Ill.) International Raceway. The chassis was most recently on track in November at PIR where it was driven by Ron Hornaday to a 29th-place finish following a late-race accident.
THOUGHTS FROM THE DRIVER: Nelson Piquet Jr.
How do you feel going into Phoenix International Raceway?
"I've never been to Phoenix, so this is going to be one of those tracks where I really have to draw on the experience of my teammates and my crew chief. I believe that my experience from our test at Walt Disney World Speedway will also come into play a lot when I get on track for the first time."
What are some of the major differences you've experienced in stock car racing as opposed to open wheel racing?
"I think the whole environment of stock car racing is very interesting, and I think it's more of a sport than what I did in Europe. It involves more of the driver and depends more on the driver, both in competition and in a sentimental or emotional way. Whether you're tailoring the setup of the truck or getting in an argument after the race, the driver plays a bigger part of it in NASCAR and I like it that way. Over here, everyone's very committed and everyone loves the sport. Plus, the public is amazing, and the amount of fans watching these races really gives us a big boost. This is a whole different path for me, a completely different route in my career."