DOVER, Del. (May 14, 2011) — Nelson Piquet Jr. finished 16th at Dover (Del.) International Speedway Friday night after getting caught up in a last-lap incident.
The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series returned to action this weekend at Dover for the Lucas Oil 200. Piquet Jr. hoped to continue his momentum from Nashville Superspeedway where he finished a career-best second-place.
Nelson Piquet Jr. unloaded the No. 8 Autotrac Chevrolet Silverado on Thursday for back-to-back practices at the one-mile track. Even though he had not competed at the track before, he quickly became comfortable with the high-banked speedway. Qualifying in the 13th position, he was looking to gain more speed during Friday’s main event.
When the green flag dropped for the 200-lap Lucas Oil 200, Piquet Jr. aimed gain experience and stay out of trouble on the famed Monster Mile. The race did not stay green for long with the first caution of the night flying on lap five. Running in the 15th-position, Piquet Jr. talked about restart strategy with crew chief Chris Carrier.
When the race resumed on lap 12, Piquet Jr. battled through the restart and worked his way up to the 11th position. He reported the truck was a bit loose in the corners. By lap 40, Piquet Jr. battled with the No. 66 of Justin Marks for the 10th position, moving forward in the pack.
Another caution flew on lap 45 as the No. 46 of Craig Goess spun in turn two, with Piquet Jr. sitting ninth. Carrier called the No. 8 Chevrolet Silverado down pit road for the first pit-stop of the night. The Brazilian driver relayed that the truck was still loose. The No. 8 crew went to work taking four tires, adjustments to the air-pressure and fuel. The No. 8 returned to action in the eighth position.
Piquet Jr. was making consistent lap times around the track and was still running in the eighth position at lap 72. Ricky Carmichael brought out the fourth caution of the night after hard contact with the wall.
The leaders began to make green flag stops at lap 123. Running in the fifth position, Piquet Jr. followed suit and brought the No. 8 Autotrac Chevrolet Silverado down pit road for four tires and fuel at lap 129. The rookie driver left pit road in the 22nd position but continued to gain ground on the leaders.
A caution flew on lap 154 for debris, and Piquet Jr. was able to regain lead lap status. Taking advantage of his gained lap, the No. 8 made a final pit stop on lap 157 to help adjust a loose -handling truck. The team changed four tires and fuel to the Chevrolet Silverado, and restarted in the 13th position.
Piquet Jr. continued to remain focused throughout the final laps, listening to his crew chief and spotter Mike Calinoff for guidance. A caution waved on lap 178 as the No. 77 of Justin Lofton spun on the frontstretch. The No. 8 elected to stay out on the track, but another caution on lap 185 provided another opportunity for the No. 8 team to evaluate the strategy for the closing laps.
The field was slowed again for an accident in turn four on lap 197, setting the field up for an exciting three-lap shootout. As the green flag waved, the No. 8 was in contention for a top spot. Piquet Jr. looked to find an open position to move forward, but as the white flag dropped the No. 8, No. 13 of Johnny Sauter and the No. 17 of Timothy Peters battled for position into turn one and made contact, creating a last-lap caution, therefore ending the race.
Kyle Busch was crowned the winner of the Lucas Oil 200 with Piquet Jr. scored in the 16th-position.
The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series will head to the center of motorsports at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway for the N.C. Education Lottery 200 on May 20. Tune into SPEED at 7:30 p.m. EST.
Comments from driver, Nelson Piquet Jr.:
“It was a disappointing finish, but I think that overall we had a really solid weekend. During practice, we struggled a bit with set-up, but I was pretty confident heading into the race. There were a lot of aggressive battles on the track, but that is racing. We continue to get stronger each weekend, and I have a lot of faith in the team. I think that I learned a lot about this track and the truck throughout the weekend. I am really excited to be racing next weekend in Charlotte, close to where I’m living now, and I’ll be working hard with the team to score a strong finish.”