DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Impatience is a hallmark of most NASCAR drivers, whether it involves competing on the track or advancing their careers.
Nelson Piquet Jr. is the exception. The 27-year-old Brazilian driver, the son of three-time Formula One champion Nelson Piquet is quick on the asphalt, but his career moves are remarkably deliberate and well thought-out.
Piquet doesn’t believe he’s ready for a Cup ride. In fact, he had reservations about making the jump with Turner Scott Motorsports from the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series to the NASCAR Nationwide Series this year.
“A lot of people don’t think so, but I think I’m a down-to-earth guy,” Piquet told the NASCAR Wire Service during Thursday’s NASCAR Media Day at Daytona. “I know where I should be, where my place is, and I don’t think my place is Cup right now. I’m sure I want to do a few races here and there — a road course, and start maybe doing an oval here and there in the Cup series — but I know there’s still a lot to learn.”
Piquet’s plan was to run a third full season in the Truck Series, but a change in his management and the addition of sponsorship accelerated his progress.
Piquet won four races in NASCAR divisions in 2012 (at Michigan and Las Vegas in Trucks, at Road America in Nationwide and at Bristol in K&N Pro East). Nevertheless, he had second thoughts about making the move to Nationwide.
“We had worked the whole year,” Piquet said, “and when we decided, ‘OK, we’re doing Trucks again next year,’ around September or October, we started planning everything for this year, building trucks and getting ready — even schedules and a testing plan, all kinds of things — because I really wanted to put my name out there and win the championship and multiple races.
“But the opportunity came up… It was hard for me, because, in a certain way, I still felt like I had to maybe show something else. OK, I won some races. One was a mileage race, one was a K&N and a Nationwide, too, but I think I would have wanted to win four or five races in a single year to say, ‘Hey, OK, now I want to move up.'”