Nelson Piquet Jr. finished seventh in his NASCAR Nationwide series debut on Saturday at Watkins Glen.
The former Formula 1 racer, who has competed in the ARCA and NASCAR Truck series this year, completed a successful debut in NASCAR's second-tier series, in what was also his first road course event driving a stock car.
The Brazilian qualified 10th at the wheel of the No. 27 Baker-Curb Ford, running a single two-hour practice session on Friday before getting his place on the grid on Saturday morning, ahead of the afternoon's 82-lap event. From the start he was able to make some progress and then build on that with a clean race, which coupled with the right strategy, enabled him to remain among the top 10 for most of the distance.
"It was a complicated weekend with just one practice to learn the track, the car and a lot of people expect that just because I'm a road course driver and had open-wheel experience, I would arrive here and do well, but it's very different," Piquet said. "But it was good. I love challenges like this. I was last weekend in Brazil competing in the karting Nationals just for fun, for more practice competition for me because I haven't been doing that for a long time.
"My goal in the future is to be doing this frequently and the plan wasn't to be doing Nationwide this soon but this came up, the team invited me and I came. In qualifying we did an OK job and in the race we did a little bit better."
Piquet fought for position against former F1 champion Jacques Villeneuve, who was making his fourth Nationwide Series start, his first at Watkins Glen. At various stages during the race they battled among the top 10 and eventually a better strategy allowed Piquet to beat the Canadian to seventh place.
"I think I had a little bit of a better strategy and at some points I was a bit quicker than him," said Piquet about his battle with Villeneuve. "We were running close and it shows that we've got similar experience and we ran similar pace. I'm sure if we have another race we're going to be another step ahead."
Piquet is hoping to compete later this month in the Nationwide series at Montreal, while he also plans to enter at least two or three more events in the Truck series before attempting a full assault in 2011.