Nelson Piquet Jr.made his official ARCA debut at the Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200 at Daytona International Speedway tonight. The event saw another debut with American Indycar driver Danica Patrick starting a limited schedule in the series in a much anticipated switch to Sprint Cup racing.
Piquet finished 27th, 13 laps down, while Patrick drove to an impressive 6th place after having an altercation with Piquet. Patrick, driving the GoDaddy.com Chevrolet owned by Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s JR Motorsports, made a great save on lap 54 when she was tapped by Nelson Piquet. Her car spun but she saved it without hitting the wall or anyone else.
Lots of congratulations have been heaped on Patrick for her impressive debut from fellow drivers in Indycar and NASCAR alike. Only former F1 pilot Scott Speed felt compelled to offer some derision about Patrick’s save on lap 54 saying, via Twitter:
Lmao danaca[SIC] patrick amazing save secrets, just take hands off the wheel LOL I almost pissed myself
Charming, Scott. That’s class with a “K”. Open-wheel racers do take their hands off the wheel if they feel they are going to crash or hit the wall. That is common practice lest they snap their wrists. You were an F1 driver right? The race was won by Bobby Gerhart who scored his sixth career ARCA Series victory.
This is ARCA right? Shouldn’t a veteran Indycar driver do well there? I expected her to do well, not be shocked she did. The rebuttal so far is that this is the first time in a stock car for Patrick and I should be more impressed with a 6th place finish than I am but I argue that she has had testing in an ARCA car and many years behind the wheel of an Indycar. No one is affording Piquet the same platitudes as the first time he drove the car was Thursday telling AUTOSPORT:
“I am really happy with the result today and a little surprised because the first time I drove was in Thursday practice,” said Piquet.
“It was my first time in the ARCA car and my first time at Daytona. So I am really pleased with the result, especially in such a competitive session, there was just 0.5s between first and 15th. I can’t wait for the race.”
I am not sure what anyone expected of Piquet but I must admit, he did a good job of it as he has never been in that car before or at Daytona or super speedways. While the world is making over Patrick, who is still apparently a female and not a race car driver, I am more impressed that Piquet jumped in a massively heavy car, comparatively, and drove at speed in a series he has no history with.
Not taking anything away from Patrick but I expect her to do well against a group of ARCA drivers. Piquet is another story completely.