Nelson Piquet Jr. and Ron Hornaday Jr. have secured race deals for 2012 in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, that will see them return for full season campaigns next year despite the closure of their current team, Kevin Harvick, Inc.
Former F1 driver Nelson Piquet Jr. announced that he would be driving for Turner Motorsports in 2012 in his second season of Truck Series competition. Piquet Jr. will also run a limited number of Nationwide races as he looks to stepping up to the series full-time in the future: the 26-year-old Brazilian former F1 driver is set to make his Nationwide oval début at Homestead this weekend in the #30 Turner Motorsports car.
"I am excited to have the opportunity to come to Turner Motorsports," said Piquet. "I know we will be in the hunt for the Camping World Truck Series championship and I will gain invaluable experience behind the wheel of the Nationwide Series car."
Piquet narrowly missed out to Joey Coulter in the battle for this season's Rookie of the Year title, despite finishing just ahead of Coulter in the season finale Ford 200 on Friday evening.
"Nelson brings a significant amount of experience and depth to our driver line up," said team owner Steve Turner. "He also brings a strong international fan base to our program. I am confident he will compete for both race wins and the 2012 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship."
Meanwhile, four-time series champion Ron Hornaday Jr. finished in fourth place in the 2011 series standings, after his own chances of a fifth title effectively ended with his controversial clash with Kyle Busch at Texas Motor Speedway.
In a touch of irony, Hornaday revealed that he had turned down approaches from the Kyle Busch Motorsports team to race for them in 2012 - although he said that this decision was nothing to do with any lingering animosity with Busch, but rather the fact that KBM runs Toyotas instead of Chevys. "I wouldn't know even where the distributor cap is on another manufacturer," quipped Hornaday.
Instead, Hornaday announced that he had signed a deal to race for Joe Denette Motorsports in 2012 in the #9 truck. "I signed the contract at 9:05 (Thursday) night," Hornaday revealed.
"I want his 301st race to be the first victory for Joe Denette Motorsports," team owner Joe Denette said. "I feel like I'm taking up where Kevin Harvick left off. To me, [Ron]'s one of the best in the series, and if you can take up where he left off, you're doing nothing but good."
Denette current fields Jason White in the #23 Chevrolet, but is unsure of White's plans for next season. "He is more than welcome to join us again. If he does, he does. If he doesn't--sorry, he doesn't, and he'll be the competition."
If White did re-sign, Denette said that that his organisation would run a two-truck line-up and White would be team mates with Hornaday.