Nelson Piquet Jr. is exploring options in NASCAR as he continues to work on his plans for 2010. The former Renault F1 driver was in attendance at Phoenix International Raceway this weekend, looking at a possible future in NASCAR and meeting with series officials, team owners and drivers of all three national series.
Piquet tested last month a Truck Series Toyota Tundra for Red Horse Racing at Rockingham and was admittedly impressed with his first taste of a stock car and an oval track. Piquet admitted to enjoying his NASCAR experience this weekend and said that he was giving the series a close look.
"Obviously, I'm trying to have as good as a look as I can over here," said Piquet. "I'm trying to get a good feeling of what everything here is in America, in case I have to make a decision to know what I'm going to feel. I didn't want to make a decision of coming to America without knowing how things work here, so I've been spending these days here meeting drivers, team owners, and racetracks to really know what I'm getting into if I come here."
Piquet said he has received some advice already as to how to make a career in NASCAR coming from his single-seater background. He said he is willing to go a few steps back in order to be as well prepared as he can to eventually reach the Sprint Cup series.
"Well, obviously I don't want to jump any stages if I come to America, I want to do it properly," Piquet said. "I want to learn from the bottom. Coming from Formula 1 doesn't mean that I can come here and step into a Cup car. Obviously I don't think about that.
"I really want to start with my head down and build myself up because it's a completely different kind of racing, you know. I want to arrive here in Cup because I earned it, not because I'm arriving from Formula 1. Hopefully if I come, I'll start doing the East [Camping World Touring] Series, you know, maybe doing a few dirt races."
Piquet also said he wanted to enjoy racing again, even if he doesn't necessarily like driving a stock car as much as a Formula 1 car.
"Yeah, I think the important thing is enjoying the whole environment, not only the driving," said Piquet. "But in the race, during the race if you're having fun, is not only by liking the car. Obviously, there's cars much better technologically. An F1 car, what I'm used to, is the top of the world. I think as long as you're having fun it doesn't matter if you're racing a kart or if you're driving in NASCAR. If you're having fun and competition is good, that's important."
Talking about his possibilities of having a seat again in Formula 1, Piquet said he remains close to Force India, but hasn't made up his mind on where he wants to race next year.
"I'm close to Force India at the moment but obviously this is being very interesting for me, so I don't know. I'm still in the process of deciding what I'm going to do. Maybe spend one more year in Europe before coming here; it's still all up in the air."
Next week, Piquet is set to race in the SKUSA Karting SuperNationals at Las Vegas, where he is expected to meet Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Buemi. He plans to get his 2010 season started with the Rolex 24 at Daytona, a deal that he is still working on.