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Trucks: Piquet clinches first series win

It was touch and go whether Piquet could make it to the end of the race without another pit stop, but it was worth a shot. And so he dug in, slowed up to conserve enough fuel to allow him to have a chance of making it to the end, and watched the race unfold ahead of him.

"I knew that Nelson is very good at saving fuel," said Carrier of his belief that they could make the strategy work. "It comes very natural to him ... He's got very good throttle control, very good car control. He knows how to draft."

Busch was still in control of the race and leading the restart but he stil had to make a final pit stop of his own, which he did on lap 79 as the rest of the field cycled through pit lane. On lap 89, that shuffle left Piquet out on front again on his own, but the team were still anxious about the fuel situation and getting their driver to slow down and do whatever he had to to lean out the fuel use.

Carrier admitted that the fuel situation was so near the knuckle that he even considered a late splash-and-dash eight laps from the end: "We changed our minds three times in one lap," said Carrier about the deliberations. In the end, "We kind of just rolled the dice."

Piquet's speed on lap 90 was 184.952 mph; on the final lap it was down to 158.580 mph. "I was getting a bit scared of putting down second gear and just coasting," admitted Piquet. "I was going half-throttle already. They told me to back off more, that's why I was worried - I didn't know who the second place was."

But his margin over the field was such that when he did finally cross the line and claim the chequered flag, he was still eight seconds ahead of Jason White who was on a similar fuel-stretching strategy. Rookie Dakoda Armstrong held on to third place ahead of Parker Kligerman making his début as driver of the #7 Toyota for Red Horse Racing after being dropped by Brad Keseelowski's squad. Polesitter Joey Coulter ended up coming home in seventh place ahead of Keselowski in eighth and Kurt Busch in ninth.

"It was fun to get back in the trucks," said Busch, who despite the disappointment of missing out on the win that had seemed rightfully his for much of the afternoon was in pretty upbeat spirits nonetheless. "I really enjoyed myself out there and wanted to do a good job for Kyle and I think we got that done as far as evaluating our program. His program. I say 'Ours' because we're brothers and it's fun to do this together."

But all eyes were on the man celebrating his first series victory: "It came in a dramatic way, but it came. It doesn't matter how, but we did it!" he said. "It is a little weight off my back and for the whole family. I am just living to do what our family always did, win races and win championships."

It's the breakthrough win that he really wanted, after earlier this winning a regional race in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East at Bristol Motor Speedway in March, and then following that up with victory in just his third NASCAR Nationwide Series start at Road America, putting his F1 experience to good use on the road course.

"I want to prove to fans that I can win in any car that they put me into," added Piquet, delighted with his win on the two-mile Michigan oval to show that he's not just another road course ringer from overseas motor racing championships. "Now we have a K&N, Truck and a Nationwide win. Hopefully, we'll get a Cup win soon!"

In the championship standings, Piquet's win raises him to eighth place, 57pts off co-leaders Timothy Peters and Ty Dillon.




Related Pictures

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Joey Coulter leads the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series field to the green flag to start the VFW 200 at Michigan International Speedway. (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Nelson Piquet celebrates winning the VFW 200 at Michigan International Speedway, his first career win in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Defending Sprint Cup Champion Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser/Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS, races to a second place finish, Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet SS finishes in sixth place, and Martin Truex, Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Visser Precision finishes in twelfth place Sunday, November 22, 2015 in the final race of the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. This Chevrolet drivers finished 2nd, 3rd and 4th (respectively) in the Chase of the Cup Championship. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Series championship contenders Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 AXALTA Chevrolet, Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser/Jimmy John`s Chevrolet, Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Denver Mattress Chevrolet, and Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Crispy Toyota, take part in pre-race ceremonies for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 22, 2015 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/NASCAR via Getty Images)
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Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser/Jimmy John`s Chevrolet, Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Crispy Toyota, Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 AXALTA Chevrolet, and Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Denver Mattress Chevrolet, race during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 22, 2015 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, drives through the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 21, 2015 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Erik Jones, driver of the #4 Toyota, looks on in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Ford EcoBoost 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 20, 2015 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Daniel Suarez, driver of the #51 ARRIS Toyota, and John H. Nemechek, driver of the #8 Chevrolet, lead a pack of trucks during the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Ford EcoBoost 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 20, 2015 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Erik Jones, driver of the #4 Toyota, celebrates in victory lane after winning the series championship during the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Ford EcoBoost 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 20, 2015 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Matt Crafton, driver of the #88 Ideal Door/Menards Toyota, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Ford EcoBoost 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 20, 2015 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Jeff Curry/Getty Images)
Matt Crafton, driver of the #88 Ideal Door/Menards Toyota, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Ford EcoBoost 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 20, 2015 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Erik Jones, driver of the #4 Toyota, celebrates with a burnout after winning after winning the series championship after the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Ford EcoBoost 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 20, 2015 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Jonathan Ferrey/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Matt Crafton, driver of the #88 Ideal Door/Menards Toyota, crosses the finish line to win the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Ford EcoBoost 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 20, 2015 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Jonathan Ferrey/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Matt Crafton, driver of the #88 Ideal Door/Menards Toyota, talks to Erik Jones, driver of the #4 Toyota Toyota, on the grid during pre-race ceremonies for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Ford EcoBoost 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 20, 2015 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Defending Sprint Cup Champion Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser/Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS, qualifies for thirteenth position Friday, November 20, 2015 for Sunday`s Championship 4, the final race of the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. Harvick will be joined by Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet SS and Martin Truex, Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Visser Precision Chevrolet SS to compete for the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Martin Truex, Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Visser Precision Chevrolet SS, qualifies for eleventh position Friday, November 20, 2015 for Sunday`s Championship 4, the final race of the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. Truex, Jr. will be joined by Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser/Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS and Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet SS to compete for the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet SS, qualifies for fifth position Friday, November 20, 2015 for Sunday`s Championship 4, the final race of the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. Gordon will be joined by Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser/Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS and Martin Truex, Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Visser Precision Chevrolet SS to compete for the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship. Sunday will be Gordon`s last race as a full-time NASCAR Sprint Cup driver. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)

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