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Piquet Jr. Wins Nationwide Series Race At Road America

| , RacinToday.com Saturday, June 23 2012

Nelson Piquet Jr. and his team celebrate their victory at Road America Saturday. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Garry Eller)

Former Formula 1 driver Nelson Piquet Jr. put his road racing skills to good use Saturday as he won the Sargento 200 NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Road America.

The victory came in the Brazilian native’s third career start and first start of the season in the series. Piquet, the son of a three-time F1 World Champion, is a regular in the Camping World Truck Series. He started the race from the pole.

“I knew I could do it. It was just a matter of being with right team, with the right people,” Piquet, driving for Turner Motorsports, said.

Second, 2.2 seconds back at the 4-mile circuit, was Michael McDowell while veteran NASCAR road racing ace Ron Fellows Jr. finished third.

“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 said he played it smart during the middle stages of the race, opting to save fuel and his car.

“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.

“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.”

The Sargento 200 had a tamer finish than last year, which had three green-white-checker finishes. Things did get a little interesting when one of the big names from last year, Villeneuve, made contact with Danica Patrick in Turn 5 on the final lap, which spun Patrick, dropping her from fourth to 12th, her eventual finish.

| , RacinToday.com Saturday, June 23 2012
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