Former Renault Formula One driver Nelson Piquet Jr. said today that he will leave the F1 circuit to focus his attention on NASCAR stock cars.
Piquet was fired by Renault last August and subsequently triggered F1’s so-called “Crashgate” scandal by revealing he had crashed his car deliberately at the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix, while following team orders to help teammate Fernando Alonso win the race.
Piquet commented on his decision today, saying, "my first 18 months in F1 did not go as planned, (so) I have decided to focus on something different and have chosen to take a route in America. NASCAR is hugely challenging and nobody has ever come in as an outsider and gone on to win it. It will be the ultimate challenge.”
Piquet declined to reveal what series he intends to run, or with what team, but sources tell Sirius Speedway that he is scheduled to take part in a Red Horse Racing Camping World Truck Series test tomorrow and Thursday at Florida’s New Smyrna Speedway. If that test goes well, the possibility exists for Piquet to be in one of the team’s Toyota’s in the season opener at Daytona International speedway next month.
The second-generation Brazilian driver’s best finish in 28 career Formula One starts was second in the 2008 German Grand Prix.
In other Truck Series news, Sirius Speedway has learned that NASCAR Camping World Truck Series veteran David Starr will move to Randy Moss Motorsports this season, driving the #81 Toyota steered a year ago by Tayler Malsam. Sources say that Starr will bring his 2009 sponsor, Zachry Industries, with him from HT Motorsports, where he drove the #24 Toyota last season.
Starr declined to discuss the deal when contacted yesterday, pending a formal announcement from the team. That announcement is expected to take place later this week, or next.
Former Rusty Wallace, Inc. crewchief Trip Bruce has left the team to accept a new position with Stringer Motorsports, and will serve as crewchief for USAC open-wheel star Brad Sweet in his rookie season on the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.
The team’s #90 Great Clips-sponsored Toyota is currently scheduled to compete in at least eight races this season, at Dover, Charlotte, Gateway, O’Reilly Raceway Park, Bristol, Phoenix and Homestead-Miami. They were also scheduled to race at The Milwaukee Mile, before that dated was pulled from the series schedule.
Sweet made his Truck Series debut last season at Phoenix International Raceway, qualifying 23rd and finishing 22nd. He will continue to compete with the World of Outlaws Sprint Car series, after driving USAC Midgets and Sprint Cars for Kasey Kahne Racing the last two years.
Michael McDowell has confirmed that he will drive the #81 MacDonald Motorsports Dodge in the full 2010 NASCAR Nationwide Series schedule. McDowell finished 13th in Nationwide points a year ago, and joins a MacDonald Motorsports team that boasts a new shop in Mooresville, NC, new race cars and a new crewchief in Patrick Donahue.
An finally, Hunt Brothers Pizza will return to Richard Petty Motorsports in 2010, sponsoring driver Elliott Sadler’s #19 Sprint Cup Ford in six races. They backed RPM teammate AJ Allmendinger is a similar number of events last year.