Piquet: I'd have stayed in NASCAR given the chance

Nelson Piquet Jr, who returns to NASCAR competition in the Xfinity road course race at Mid-Ohio this weekend, says he would have stayed in the American stock cars on a full-time basis if he’d received adequate backing.

Piquet: I'd have stayed in NASCAR given the chance
Nelson A. Piquet
Nelson A. Piquet
Nelson A. Piquet
Nelson A. Piquet and Travis Pastrana
Nelson Piquet Jr.
Nelson A. Piquet
Nelson A. Piquet
Nelson A. Piquet
Nelson A. Piquet
Nelson A. Piquet

Despite NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity programme, Piquet thinks the lack of sponsors willing to support non-American drivers is holding back their chances – and led to him returning to Europe to race in Formula E after a four-year U.S. stock car career.

Piquet makes his Xfinity series return this weekend with the Biagi-DenBeste Racing squad, and was third fastest in practice at Mid-Ohio today.

He has previously won in Xfinity at Road America in 2012, and scored two oval wins in the Truck Series.

“I’m really happy to be back in NASCAR, I love the racing,” Piquet told SiriusXM Radio. “Unfortunately, it’s very hard for a foreigner to make a long career here – it’s very hard to get sponsors.

“Usually, in my view, NASCAR is not too big on bringing people from outside of the country, so it was hard for me and I couldn’t stay here. If I had the support I would’ve stayed in NASCAR, because I love the sport and I love the guys over here. I made so many friends in Charlotte and the whole area.

“I’m really grateful to the #98 team for giving me this opportunity to race again on a road course, and I think we’ve got a good piece together. I’m already thinking about when I’m going to come back.”

When pressed on the subject, Piquet added: “I just felt that NASCAR themselves didn’t see the need for a different demographic of people, considering me, let’s say, a Latin driver. You could even see it with the case of Travis Pastrana [the supercross and stunt-riding star]; he didn’t really have the sponsors and stepped away from NASCAR without the support. I felt the same thing. And if Travis can’t find sponsors, what chance do I have?

“When my sponsor, WorkX, decided to pull back, I didn’t have anyone to support me. NASCAR didn’t make a big effort to help drivers from different countries, in my view, they seemed more worried about taking care of the local names and family traditions, instead of a different demographic or person from another country.

“It’s really tough. If outsiders don’t get the support from NASCAR it’s really tough for us to stay in the sport. And I love NASCAR to bits. The racing over here is like nowhere else. All the drivers from Europe ask me about it and I always say, ‘real racing is NASCAR’. There’s no data acquisition, none of that stuff, it’s hard work between the driver, crew chief and mechanics.

“It’s so different from the European stuff. And you don’t understand it until you start living it. It’s not a simple thing, you need to breathe it – it’s like a lifestyle. I had a lot of fun.”

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