As he crossed the finish line, Nelson Piquet Jr. was on the team radio exclaiming: "We finally did it. We finally did it!"
A few minutes later after the customary burnout, he was duly celebrating in victory lane at Michigan International Speedway after claiming a breakthrough first win in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series in which he is a regular driver.
Piquet said that he and his team "have been fighting for this win since the beginning of last year and we finally made it," adding: "We did it and I'm really happy that the whole team stayed behind me this whole time."
He ended up winning the VFW 200 race by an impressive eight seconds over Jason White, after being forced to gamble on stretching his fuel to the absolute limit after an early spin seemed to leave him with little chance of competing for victory.
Joey Coulter had earlier claimed his first Truck series pole position and led the field to the green flag alongside Piquet. However, it was the Brazilian who quickly took point and led for the first 13 laps of the race through to the first of five cautions of the afternoon, this one for debris on the back stretch which allowed everyone an early opportunity for pit stops.
Brad Keselowski opted to stay out and lead the field back to racing on lap 17 but was quickly passed by Kurt Busch, who had been running in second place to Piquet before the caution, in the #18 Kyle Busch Motorsports entry for his first appearance in the Truck Series since 2001 after having claimed the championship in 2000.
Another caution for debris came out on lap 39, with Todd Bodine briefly taking the lead before spinning on lap 47 with help from John Wes Townley shortly after having handed back the top spot to Busch. Bodine's spin was the third caution of the day, with the green flag coming out on lap 50 but barely lasting two laps before Bodine spun his now-damaged truck for a second time.
"The aerodynamics on these trucks are so sensitive that you get really aero- pushy and aero-loose," said a conciliatory Bodine. "He [Townley] probably got aero-tight and pushed into me. That happens." His laid-back response to the situation was in sharp contrast to Bodine's rage against Piquet after the two made contact at Pocono two weeks ago: Bodine had labeled Piquet "an idiot" and even tried throwing his helmet at the Brazilian's truck.
At the restart on lap 56, Busch and Piquet - now fighting for the lead - made contact that Busch was able to survive, but which sent Piquet into a spin. With flat-spotted tyres, Piquet had no option but to pit under the ensuing caution and take on fuel, which put him on a different fuel strategy to everyone else but at the cost of track position. At the time it seemed like a disaster; in the end, it would prove to be the making of him.
"We just had to push reset and take the situation at that moment," explained Piquet's crew chief Chris Carrier. "All the decisions at that point were no-brainers."