JOLIET, Ill. (September 17, 2011) – Nelson Piquet Jr. and the No. 8 Qualcomm/Autotrac team headed to Chicagoland Speedway for the NASCAR Camping World Trucks Series Fast Five 225 with high hopes for the rookie driver. After starting the race from the 12th position, the Brazilian native quickly worked his way toward the front of the field, where he would remain for the majority of the 150-lap race before capturing a third-place finish.
With the drop of the green flag, Piquet Jr. quickly made his move toward the front of the pack, taking over the fourth position by lap four. The rookie driver continued to gain ground on the trucks ahead of him when the first yellow flag of the night was displayed, slowing the field for debris on lap 11. Happy with the truck’s performance, the No. 8 Kevin Harvick Inc. (KHI) team opted to stay on track during the caution period, allowing Piquet Jr. to restart in third on lap 13.
As the field regained full speed, the young driver continued his run to the front of the field, moving into the second position on lap 23. On lap 36 Piquet Jr. informed his crew that he felt there was a tire going down on the No. 8 KHI Chevrolet. With the team’s first scheduled green-flag pit stop approaching, the driver maneuvered his truck down pit road a few laps early on lap 44 to the attention of his awaiting crew. On the stop, the team took four tires and fuel, placing the No. 8 machine back on track in seventh as the field cycled through green-flag pit stops.
Back on track, Piquet Jr. patiently worked his way toward the front of the field taking over the second position on lap 57. Just as the No. 8 Chevrolet settled into position, the second caution of the race waved for fluid on the track. With the team’s last pit stop falling a few laps prior to the caution, the team opted to remain on track and in the second position for the restart on lap 65. As the trucks worked their way around the track after the restart, Piquet Jr. was shuffled to the fourth spot.
After settling into the green-flag run, Piquet Jr. radioed to his team that the truck was incredibly loose and the driver dropped to the sixth position by lap 78. The yellow flag waved for a third time on lap 83 for debris allowing the No. 8 team to make a quick pit stop to work on the handling of the KHI Chevrolet. The crew changed the four tires, added fuel and made a chassis adjustment. The team’s hard work gained their driver two positions on pit road, sending him back on track to restart in the fourth position on lap 87.
As green-flag racing resumed, Piquet Jr. settled into a rhythm and was able to advance to the third spot on lap 96. The rookie driver continued to work his way forward but informed his crew that the No. 8 Qualcomm/Autotrac Silverado was becoming tight. As the laps wound down and the second round of green-flag pit stops approached, Piquet Jr. fell back to the fifth position On lap 135, the No. 8 machine made its way to pit road, stopping for right-side tires and fuel. Piquet Jr. returned to track with a mission to return to the front. With only 10 laps remaining, the rookie moved into fourth position and took over third with less than five laps left in the race.
Piquet Jr. crossed the finish line third in his first Truck Series appearance at the Joliet, Ill., facility. The third-place finish also earned the driver honors as the highest-finishing rookie of the race.
The No. 8 KHI team will make their Truck Series debut at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on September 24 for the F.W. Webb 175. Tune in SPEED at 3:00 p.m. ET and listen to MRN at 2:45 p.m. ET.
Thoughts from Nelson Piquet Jr.:
“Nights like this are amazing, this was a near win for us but we’ll get there soon. I’m learning every time we go out on the track. We have the speed, but I need to continue to work on the finer details that will get us into victory lane. We’re doing well and we’ll get to victory lane soon.”