Nelson Piquet Jr.’s lead was so big that, even low on fuel, he could cruise carefully to the finish line for a long-awaited victory Saturday in the NASCAR Trucks Series.
”I was going half-throttle already. They told me to back off more. That’s why I was worried. I didn’t know who the second place was,” Piquet said. ”I was getting a bit scared of putting down second gear and just coasting.”
The second-place driver was too far back. Piquet ended up winning by 8.082 seconds after leading by almost twice that margin with a couple of laps to go. Jason White finished second, and Dakoda Armstrong was third.
Chris Carrier, the winning crew chief, said Piquet ran out of gas during the burnout.
”I knew from past experience in other races that Nelson is very good, naturally, at saving fuel when he needs to. He’s got very good throttle control, very good car control. He knows how to draft,” Carrier said.
”We were just trying to figure out how to tell him how far ahead he was. The guy that was running second, Jason White, was doing the same thing we were. He was hoping he didn’t run out of fuel too. He kind of forced our hand to stay out, because had we pitted, he would have won the race.”
It was the first Truck victory for Piquet in 42 career starts. The Brazilian is the fifth first-time winner this season and the 10th different person to win in 12 races.
The son of a three-time Formula One champion, Piquet achieved his dream when he got an F1 ride of his own in 2008. But it ended in scandal after Piquet deliberately crashed in a race to help his teammate, following orders from his team.
He’s now working his way up in NASCAR. He also won a Nationwide Series race in June at Road America.
Piquet was coming off a third-place Truck finish at Pocono two weeks ago. He won the pole for that race and started second behind Joey Coulter on Saturday. Coulter finished seventh.
Piquet led the 200-mile, 100-lap race by 15 seconds with two laps remaining. The only question was whether he had enough gas to maintain his lead to the finish line.
”It’s a little weight off my shoulders,” Piquet said. ”I think for the whole family, the whole name, the only thing I can say is I’m just living to what our family always did — win races, win championships. Obviously, I’m starting all over, a whole different career to what my father did in Europe. I’m starting everything new here in America.”
This was the first Truck race at MIS since the track was resurfaced in the offseason.
”The strategy changed a lot, pretty rapidly, pretty dramatically,” Carrier said. ”Drafting was so predominant. There was a lot of unknown. There’s just a lot of guesswork.”
Timothy Peters finished 13th and leads the points standings.