LOUDON, N.H. (September 25, 2011) – Nelson Piquet Jr. and the No. 8 Kevin Harvick Inc. (KHI) crew headed to New Hampshire Motor Speedway for the F. W. Webb 175 with momentum and hopes of securing their first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series victory of the season. The Brazilian native earned a top-10 qualifying position and maintained position in the top10 for the majority of the race, before facing mechanical and brake issues, leaving the rookie driver to settle for a 24th-place finish during his first appearance at the 1.058-mile oval.
Nelson Piquet Jr. took the green flag from the sixth position but was shuffled back to eighth in the opening laps of the race. The rookie driver quickly moved into seventh on lap eight and settled in for a long green-flag run. On lap 20, the Brazilian driver informed his crew that the truck was becoming more loose with every lap. Spotter Rick Carelli worked with the young driver to find a line that would help make his truck easier to handle during the long run. Piquet Jr. was able to hold on to the seventh position until lap 62 when the first race caution came out for debris.
During the caution, the No. 8 truck visited pit road for the team’s first pit stop of the afternoon. The KHI crew changed four tires, filled the truck with fuel and made a chassis adjustment to the Chevrolet. Piquet Jr. returned to the track in the eighth position for the restart on lap 65.
Back under green-flag conditions, the rookie driver reported that his Chevrolet had become too loose. Piquet Jr. continued to hold the eighth position until lap 71 when the second and final caution of the race waved for debris on the track. Battling an unfavorable-handling truck, the team opted to visit pit road for a second stop that included a quick chassis adjustment and a splash of fuel. The speedy stop sent Piquet Jr. back on track to restart the race in the 12th position on lap 73.
Just as the field resumed full speed, the Brazilian native relayed to the team that the truck was starting to get tight in the middle of the corners. The crew reminded their driver to utilize his brake fans to help battle the tight condition the truck was developing. Piquet Jr. continued to work his way toward the front settling into ninth by lap 115.
On lap 126 Piquet Jr. alerted the team that the No. 8 Chevrolet had developed a problem and brought the truck down pit road on lap 127. The crew swapped out the battery and filled the truck with fuel, sending their driver back on track in the 21st position, four laps down from the leader. Piquet Jr. had fallen back to 23rd when the team made the call for the driver to come to pit road for four fresh tires on lap 136.
Back on track, Piquet Jr. explained to the No. 8 crew that he was experiencing issues with the brakes. Piquet Jr. quickly pulled back on to pit road for a final time on lap 140 for the team to work on the left-front brake. The No. 8 returned to the track on lap 146 running in the 24th position, 10 laps down from the leader.
The rookie driver remained on track during the final laps of the race and crossed the finish line in the 24th position. The finish leaves Piquet Jr. fourth in the Truck Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year point standings, only 22 points behind leader Joey Coulter.
The No. 8 KHI team and the Truck Series will return to Kentucky Speedway for the Kentucky 225 on October 1. Tune in SPEED at 8:00 p.m. ET and listen to MRN at 7:45 p.m. ET.
Thoughts from Nelson Piquet Jr.:
“What a tough day for the No. 8 KHI team. We have gained so much experience and momentum over the last few races and we were really hoping that would carry over into this race. We have to put this race behind us though and think about the next race. That is the only way we will achieve the goals we have set for the season.”