Hornaday announces plans for 2012
HOMESTEAD, Fla. (AP)
Both of Kevin Harvick's NASCAR Camping World Truck Series drivers have found rides for 2012.
Ron Hornaday Jr. will drive for Joe Denette Motorsports, and Nelson Piquet Jr. will drive for Turner Motorsports.
Hornaday, a four-time series champion, will drive the No. 9 Chevrolet and be partnered with crew chief Jeff Hensley. The team said it will run a second entry in select 2012 Truck Series races.
Hornaday and Piquet had to look for jobs when Harvick decided to shut down his race teams in September. The Nationwide Series cars are being transferred to Richard Childress Racing, but Kevin Harvick Inc.'s trucks are going away.
Hornaday has 51 career victories in the Truck series. He was in contention for the series championship until he was intentionally wrecked by Kyle Busch in the early laps at Texas two weeks ago.
''We are proud to have a champion like Ron Hornaday joining our team,'' team owner Joe Denette said. ''It's not every day that a young organization gets the opportunity to bring a veteran driver like Hornaday on board. He will bring a lot of experience and an entirely new dimension to our team. We are dedicated to winning races and contending for a championship in 2012, and we think our decision to bring Hornaday and Hensley to JDM shows that commitment."
Piquet, the son of three-time Formula One champion Nelson Piquet, began racing karts at 8 years old in Brazil. Making his way through the open-wheel racing ranks in South America and Europe, he made his Formula One debut in 2008 before making the transition to NASCAR in 2010. He has four top-five and 12 top-10 finishes in 24 starts in the Truck series this season.
Piquet Jr. also will drive a limited Nationwide Series schedule for Turner Motorsports in 2012.
''Turner Motorsports prides itself on cultivating young talent,'' Turner Motorsports team owner Steve Turner said. ''One of our main objectives is to give drivers a platform to showcase their abilities to help propel them to NASCAR's highest level. Nelson brings a significant amount of experience and depth to our driver lineup. He also brings a strong international fan base to our program. I am confident he will compete for both race wins and the 2012 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship.''
Homestead will be the final race for Kevin Harvick Inc., and Harvick said he's looking forward to the end of his run as a team owner.
''I'm excited for a lot of reasons personally; I'm excited for a lot of reasons professionally,'' Harvick said. ''When you look at the whole scenario for me, it should make my Cup car better, it should make the Nationwide cars better and the trucks, between the two teams, have won half the races this year. It was a decision based on a lot of things, but I think when you look at the performance of the race teams, it should make them better.
''I know everybody thinks we should be sad, but I'm extremely excited because as a driver I get to do the same things next year as I did this year. I think I have 14 Nationwide races and three to five Truck races, so it's going to be fun and I should be able to be involved. ... We didn't do this to get worse. We did this to win races and win more races.''