Piquet Jr. wins Road America Nationwide race Nelson Piquet Jr. enjoyed a lot of firsts during the Sargento 200 race weekend at Road America.
A regular in the Camping World Truck Series, Piquet used his first career pole and laps led to earn his first NASCAR national-series win on the Wisconsin road course. In his third career Nationwide Series start, he drove a flawless final 17 laps with the lead, earning a 2.258-second victory over runner-up Michael McDowell. Piquet led a race-high 19 laps to become the first Brazilian to win a NASCAR national-series race.
"It's difficult to put into words what I'm feeling," Piquet Jr. said. "I think we had a great week since the first practice. I learned the track quite quickly and the team helped me out quite a bit."
Piquet didn't fight too hard for the lead until after the halfway mark, but that was a strategic move in order to save fuel in case there was a green-white-checkered finish like last year where the 4.048-mile course caused mayhem on pit crews trying to have enough fuel to finish the race.
"I could have fought harder in the middle of the race but there was no reason why," Piquet said. "I wasn't going to accomplish anything. I just held back a little bit and when it was the right moment I attacked. It was on one of the restarts where I passed Jacques [Villeneuve] and moved quick through the field and led the race at the end."
McDowell and Ron Fellows finished where they started, at second and third respectively. Max Papis and Sam Hornish Jr. rounded out the top five.
"We had a really good car," McDowell said. "The problem was I used up my car a little too much to get into second and then on that final restart I tried to be a little smart and anticipate Nelson trying to go a little early and tuck in behind him but Danica [Patrick] was right there. I kind of knew if I gave up a little bit to be at the bottom it would be worth it, but I just never got to the bottom. I tried to run down Nelson but his car was fast. I don't know if we would have had anything for him if we would have stayed with him on that restart. I think he was saving a little bit on fuel, because when he needed to go it seemed like he could."
Road America had a tamer finish than last year, which had three green-white-checkered finishes. Things did get a little interesting when one of the big names from last year, Villeneuve, made contact with Patrick in Turn 5 on the final lap, which spun Patrick.
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