BROOKLYN, Mich. (August 21, 2011) — Nelson Piquet Jr. and the No. 8 Autotrac/Qualcomm team took to the track at Michigan International Speedway for the VFW 200 on Saturday afternoon. The rookie driver qualified the Kevin Harvick Inc. (KHI) Chevrolet Silverado in the eighth position for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race and spent the majority of the 100-lap event running in the top 10 before getting loose and hitting the wall on the final lap. The accident left the driver with a 16th-place finish at the two-mile oval.
Nelson Piquet Jr. quickly worked his way toward the front of the pack as the green flag waved at Michigan. The rookie driver had moved into the fourth position by the time the first caution of the race fell on lap nine for debris. Being early in the race, the No. 8 crew opted to remain on track allowing their driver to restart fourth on lap 11. Piquet Jr. did not hesitate as the field resumed full speed, sliding into third on the first lap back under green.
The Brazilian driver maintained the third position as the second caution of the day came for a truck spinning on the front stretch on lap 14. The No. 8 team elected to stay on track during the caution, allowing Piquet Jr. to restart third. When the field returned to green-flag racing on lap 16, Piquet Jr. was shuffled back in the pack falling to ninth. The driver radioed to his crew that the No. 8 machine was loose all the way around the track. Spotter Rick Carelli worked with the young driver to run a different line on the track to help tighten up the handling of the truck. The advice worked and Piquet Jr. moved into the seventh position by lap 37.
Crew chief Chris Carrier called his driver onto pit road on lap 39 for the team’s first scheduled green-flag pit stop. The crew bolted on four tires, filled the truck with fuel and made a chassis adjustment before sending their driver back on track in the 21st position. Piquet Jr. informed his team that the truck was still loose but was able to move forward as scheduled green-flag pit stops cycled through. The driver moved back into the top 10 and into the seventh position on lap 54.
As green-flag racing continued and only 30 laps of racing remained, the rookie advanced to the fourth spot. On lap 74, Carrier brought Piquet Jr. down pit road for a second scheduled green-flag pit stop. The team took four tires, fuel and made a chassis adjustment to help with the loose-handling condition the driver was reporting. The team moved quickly sending their driver back on track in the 15th position. Piquet Jr. again set his sights on the front of the field and began moving forward, settling into 12th as the third caution flag waved for debris on the track. Several teams elected to come down pit road which allowed the No. 8 Chevrolet to restart fourth on lap 82.
It didn’t take long for caution number four to be displayed due to an accident on the backstretch on lap 87. Under caution, Piquet Jr. relayed to his KHI crew that his truck was tight on entry of the turns and loose on exit. Carrier reminded the young driver to utilize his brake fans to help bring the truck’s handling more to his liking. The No. 8 truck restarted in the seventh position on lap 89, but was quickly slowed down on lap 91 when the race’s fifth caution came for a multi-truck accident on the backstretch.
Only five laps remained in the race when the green waved with the No. 8 machine running fourth. The cautions continued to come, with the sixth falling on lap 98 for debris on the track. NASCAR officials called for a green-white-checkered finish as the green flag waved for the final time during the race. Piquet Jr. restarted in the third position and battled the competition looking for his first Truck Series win, until the final lap when his truck got loose and made contact with the wall on the backstretch, bringing out the seventh and final caution of the race. The incident left the young driver with a 16th-place finish.
The Truck Series will make a quick turn around and head to Bristol Motor Speedway for the O’Reilly Auto Parts 200 this Wednesday, August 24. Catch the action live on SPEED at 8:00 p.m. ET and listen to MRN at 7:45 p.m. ET.