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Controversial Formula One driver Nelson Piquet Jr. says he's moving to NASCAR

January 12, 2010 |  9:21 am

Nelson The former Formula One driver who admitted to crashing deliberately during a race says he's heading to America.

Nelson Piquet Jr., who purposefully crashed during the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix to help teammate Fernando Alonso win, says he'll be racing in NASCAR this year. The Brazilian described NASCAR as the "ultimate challenge" and said he would reveal which team he would be driving for in the near future.

Piquet, 24, will likely race in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series since he tested in a Toyota Tundra for Red Horse Racing in October.

If he gets a ride, he will be the third former Formula One driver in NASCAR -- Juan Pablo Montoya and Scott Speed compete in the Sprint Cup Series (Jacques Villeneuve also drove in selected NASCAR events in 2009). Jarno Trulli, who will be staying in Formula One this year with the new Lotus F1 team, tested in a Sprint Cup car in November.

Piquet was dumped by Renault in August after he failed to live up to expectations. He later accused his former bosses at Renault of instructing him to crash at the first-ever Singapore Grand Prix.

Team boss Flavio Briatore initially was banned from the sport indefinitely but was reinstated last week after a French court ruled the FIA had issued the ban illegally. The FIA is appealing the decision.

Will Piquet's decision to race in NASCAR allow him to escape the controversy that has made him a pariah among motor-sports fans around the world? Or will his jump to America allow him to overcome one of motor racing's worst scandals?

-- Austin Knoblauch

Photo: Nelson Piquet Jr. walks the paddock at Rockingham Speedway in North Carolina in October. Credit: Jim Bounds / Associated Press