Engine Problems End Night Early For Nelson Piquet Jr.
A promising debut turned into a disappointing weekend at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway for Nelson Piquet Jr. in the No. 8 Chevrolet Silverado. The newest addition to the Kevin Harvick Inc. (KHI) stable was the fastest of the team's three entries in both practices, but engine failure on lap 80 sent the truck to the garage early and relegated Piquet Jr. to a 27th-place finish.
Taking the green flag from the 35th position, Piquet Jr. was joined at the rear of the field by his teammates Ron Hornaday in the No. 33 and Elliott Sadler in the No. 2 in a strategic effort to keep the three trucks together and out of trouble until the end of the precarious superspeedway race.
The three trucks remained together for the first 30 laps of the race, and for much of the run, Piquet Jr. led the second pack of trucks, which remained a safe distance behind the leaders. On lap 31, the No. 8 made its first visit to pit road for four tires and fuel. Following a smooth stop, Piquet Jr. returned to the track with his KHI teammates.
The first caution flag of the evening waved on lap 39 for a single-truck incident, and the No. 8 team returned to the pits for fresh tires and fuel. The green flag waved on lap 43, and this time the KHI trucks drafted with each other at the end of the lead pack. The caution flag waved again on lap 55 for debris, and Piquet Jr. brought the No. 8 down pit road for fuel and a grille cleaning.
The racing began to get more intense as green-flag racing resumed on lap 58, and on lap 76, the first major wreck of the evening unfolded directly in front of the No. 8 Chevrolet. Piquet Jr. skillfully navigated the mess and kept his cool, avoiding the incident and scattering debris. Piquet Jr. and crew chief Chris Carrier agreed that it would be best to pit for fresh tires after driving through oil from the wreck. Pulling down pit road, the team serviced the No. 8 with four tires and fuel. However, when Piquet Jr. returned to the track on lap 80, he immediately realized he had a problem when the truck suddenly lost power. Carrier coached his rookie driver to switch ignition boxes and attempt to re-fire the motor, but he was unable to restart the truck.
After a track safety vehicle pushed the No. 8 back to pit road, the crew examined the truck and found that the truck's engine had failed. Upon retiring to the garage, the team determined that the engine had over-revved during their final pit stop, causing terminal damage.
Michael Waltrip took the checkered flag, followed by Sadler, Clay Rodgers, fellow Brazilian driver Miguel Paludo and Kyle Busch. The Truck Series returns to the track next Friday, February 25 at Phoenix International Raceway.