After scoring his second consecutive top-10 qualifying position, tight short track racing took its toll on the No. 8 Chevrolet Silverado of Nelson Piquet Jr. Following major damage received from being caught up in an early-race incident caused by two of his competitors, the No. 8 team quickly repaired the Qualcomm/Autotrac machine and Piquet Jr. fought hard until the checkered flag, crossing the finish line 30th.
Taking the green flag from the ninth position, Piquet Jr. remained in the top 10 through the first caution of the race on lap 19. Piquet Jr. stated that the truck was a little tight on exit, but crew chief Chris Carrier determined that it was too early to bring the No. 8 down pit road for adjustments.
Green flag racing resumed on lap 23 with Piquet Jr. in the 10th position, but the truck's tightness worsened and the No. 8 slid back to 22nd by lap 28. Ten laps later, the truck was back to 27th but by lap 41, Piquet Jr. came on the radio and stated that the truck's condition had quickly gotten looser. As the handling improved, Piquet Jr. began a march back to the front, working his way up to 19th by lap 54.
Unfortunately, on lap 57, contact between two trucks in the top 15 caused a chain reaction, which suddenly slowed several trucks in front of Piquet Jr. With nowhere to go, Piquet Jr. ran into the back of the No. 17 of Timothy Peters, causing heavy damage to the front end of the No. 8 truck. Piquet Jr. immediately came to pit road to fix the damage, but the team's assessment determined that damage to the radiator was extensive and the truck would soon overheat. The team brought the truck behind the wall, working feverishly to replace the radiator and make body repairs.
By lap 99, the team sent Piquet Jr. back onto the track, now 42 laps down in the 34th position. But the team and driver never gave up, and Piquet Jr. was making lap times competitive with the rest of the field, logging laps and gaining both valuable points and experience on the challenging paperclip-shaped track. Demonstrating themselves as true competitors paid off, and Piquet Jr. picked up four spots during the remainder of the race, crossing the finish line in 30th place.
"This was a very difficult race for all of us," said Piquet Jr. following the event. "This season has been off to a difficult start and this obviously isn't the finish we wanted, but we still got something out of this race. We come back here in the fall, so it was important for me to make as many laps as possible. Hopefully we can come back in October with some better luck and win it because of what we learned today."
The Truck Series has two weekends off from competition before returning to the track at Nashville Superspeedway on April 22nd for the Bully Hill Vineyards 200.
Kevin Harvick Inc. PR