Nelson Piquet Jr made racing history when he became the first Brazilian to win in one of NASCAR’s top-three series.
|Nelson Piquet Jr savors
his historic moment in victory lane
Photo – Jeffrey Phelps/AP
After claiming the track record during qualifying for the NASCAR Nationwide Series – NNS – Sargento 200, Piquet Jr went on to lead the most laps and claim the checkered flag in only his third NNS start.
“I still can’t believe it! I have been dreaming of this day since making my first NASCAR start. It feels absolutely amazing,” Piquet Jr said in victory lane. “Turner Motorsports is an unbelievable organization and I can’t thank them enough. My amazing team in both the NASCAR Camping World Truck series – NCWTS – and NASCAR Nationwide series – NNS – and everyone back at the shop made this win possible.”
Starting from the front of the field after laying down a lap of 133.066 seconds in time trials, Piquet Jr quickly pulled away and led the first 4.048-miles around Road America. Team strategy had the No. 30 car scheduled to come to pit road on lap five for a fuel-only stop. A race notorious for coming down to fuel-strategy, this pit stop was important for the No. 30 team, and after entering pit road in the second position, Piquet Jr returned to the track in 18th.
By lap 10, Piquet Jr was shown in the 10th position. When the first caution of the day was shown on lap 13, crew chief Trent Owens radioed Piquet Jr to head to pit road for four fresh tires and fuel. While he was making the fastest lap times on the board, the caution was shown again on lap 18, and the No. 30 team decided to stay on the track. When the field took the green, Piquet Jr restarted in the sixth position. By lap 20, he was smoothly making his way around the track’s 14 left and right turns and had powered through to the fourth position. The team and numerous spotters on the the track were reminding the 26-year old Brazilian to be as cautious as possible with his fuel-mileage.
The No. 30 team was planning on pitting on lap 35, but their plan changed slightly when the the third caution of the day was shown on lap 32. Crew chief Trent Owens told Piquet Jr to bring his machine in for four tires and fuel reminding him to continue to save fuel once green-flag racing resumed. This pit stop was crucial in the fuel-mileage strategy for the No. 30.
By lap 34, the caution was shown yet again, with Piquet Jr sitting in the third position. When the two competitors on the track in front of him headed to pit road, the No. 30 car restarted the Sargento 200 from the head of the field. When the field was shown the green flag, Piquet Jr quickly took off from the rest of the field, continually increasing his margins on his competitors. With ten laps to go, Piquet Jr had a four-second lead on his competition as he continued to pull away. His crew chief and team asked him to slow down to conserve fuel, and the Brazilian did just that. As the margin began to decrease, Piquet Jr and his team had the right plan in place to go on and take the checkered flag. It was a fairytale ending to a perfect day for the entire No. 30 NNS Turner Motorsports team. Piquet Jr turned his first ever track record and NNS Coors Light pole into his first win in one of NASCAR’s top-three series. He was also named the Mobil 1 Oil Driver of the Race and the 3M Lap Leader.
“I hope everyone recognizes that I do have the talent and the ambition to be here,” says Nelson Piquet Jr. “I want this win to quickly translate over into racing on ovals. It’s amazing to me that I claimed a NNS victory before claiming a NCWTS one, but I’ll take it. Now I’m even more motivated and ready to go get my first win in a truck and continue to fight for the 2012 NCWTS championship.”
Source – Turner Motorsports press release