Nelson Piquet Jr to race in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series in 2011
Nelson Piquet Jr. is going NASCAR Camping World Truck Series racing full time, and, after a taste of the Truck Series this season, he’s more than ready.
“The racing, the atmosphere, the whole environment — it really attracted me,” Piquet Jr. said Monday. “I was used to racing in Europe with a cold environment and people difficult to work with. It’s very competitive in NASCAR. You live healthy. There are good people around you. There’s no one stabbing you in the back.”
Piquet Jr. and Kevin Harvick announced Monday that they will team in 2011, Piquet driving one of Kevin Harvick Inc.’s vehicles full time in the Camping World Truck Series.
Further details regarding the program will be released at a later date.
Piquet raced for both Red Horse Racing’s #1 Truck (Daytona International Speedway), Bill Ballew Racing’s #15 Truck (Charlotte Motor Speedway, Texas Motor Speedway, Michigan International Speedway, and Las Vegas Motor Speedway), and Baker Curb Racing’s #27 Nationwide Series car (Watkins Glen International), with his best result of 6th at Daytona in the Trucks and 7th in his only Nationwide Series start. He also raced in 3 events in the ARCA ReMax Series for Eddie Sharp Racing, with a best result of 9th at Texas Motor Speedway.
Piquet will be racing for one of the top teams in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, Kevin Harvick Incorporated, owned by NASCAR driver Kevin Harvick. KHI was won two Camping World Truck Series Drivers’ Championships (2007 & 2009 with Ron Hornaday Jr), as well as the 2006 NASCAR Nationwide Series Drivers’ Championship.
Piquet will use the Camping World Truck Series and the Nationwide Series to help him acclimate to the 3600+ lbs/1633 kg cars used in NASCAR (as opposed to the 1367+ lbs/620 kg F1 cars) and prepare himself for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. The difference between the two types of cars is staggering:
*Engine configuration: 2.4L V8, Mid-engine, rear-wheel drive, with the engine rev-limited to 18,000 RPM
*Weight: ~1500 pounds/650 kilograms
*Engine output: ~780 horsepower
*Transmission: 7 speed semi-automatic
*Tyres: for the fronts, they can be no wider than 9.646”/245 mm, and between 14”/355 mm and 15”/380 mm for the rear tyres.
*Brakes: carbon composite disc brakes
*Top Speed: 229.8 mph (369.9 km/h)
NASCAR Sprint Cup Car
*Engine: 5.86L pushrod V8, front-engine, rear-wheel drive
*Weight: 3450 pounds (1564.9 kg) minimum without driver and with fuel, 3650 pounds (1655.6 kg) minimum with driver and fuel
*Engine Output: rated at ~865 horsepower (unrestricted) and ~445 horsepower (restricted)
*Transmission: 4 speed manual
*Tyres: 28” x 12” x 15” (711.2 mm x 304.8 mm x 381 mm)
*Brakes: magnetic cast iron or steel disc brakes
*Top Speed: 203 mph (326.7 km/h) (On Daytona and Talladega, NASCAR restricts the engines to prevent average speeds of exceeding 200 mph after the 1987 Winston 500, where Bobby Allison blew a tyre in the tri-oval, got airborne and crashed into the catchfencing, tearing a 100+ foot section of it down and injured several spectators).
Besides the difference in cars, Nelsonho will also have to learn to race on the different circuits NASCAR goes to: the short oval of Martinsville Speedway (only 0.52 miles in length), the intermediate ovals (such as the 1.5 mile Charlotte Motor Speedway and Phoenix International Raceway), the “superspeedways” like Michigan International Speedway, Daytona International Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway, as well as the two NASCAR road courses at Infineon Raceway and Watkins Glen (though, the Truck Series hasn’t raced on a road course in several years). However, Piquet has shown that he has adopted to oval racing in the big cars, now it’s just a matter of learning the circuits and improving on his abilities.
Nelson Piquet Jr will be eligible for Rookie of the Year honors in the Camping World Truck Series since he has started fewer than 7 races.
Piquet will be joining other prominent F1 drivers who have (or are) racing in NASCAR such as Juan Pablo Motoya and Jacques Villeneuve.
Good luck to Piquet Jr, hopefully he has learned from his big mistake and won’t repeat it.