Contreras makes history at California By Brett Borden FONTANA, Calif. (Oct. 29, 1999) Carlos Contreras' No. 68 Hot Wheels Dodge will start seventh in Saturday's race. Perhaps the pecularity of Mexican Carlos Contreras' attempt to make ...
Contreras makes history at California By Brett Borden
FONTANA, Calif. (Oct. 29, 1999) Carlos Contreras' No. 68 Hot Wheels Dodge will start seventh in Saturday's race. Perhaps the pecularity of Mexican Carlos Contreras' attempt to make the NAPA Auto Parts 200 at California Speedway was captured best by a local scribe. The reporter overheard another team member who walked by Contreras' No. 68 Hot Wheels Dodge and wondered why it had "an Italian flag" on the side. The reporter shook his head in amusement. "He's obviously not from around here," he said of the confused crewmember.
Contreras made the field, but it's not known if the field knows what to make of him. His seventh-place effort outqualified championship contenders Greg Biffle and Dennis Setzer, as well as such series stalwarts as Mike Wallace, Rick Crawford and Mike Stefanik. The newcomer even outran NASCAR Winston Cup Series moonlighters Bobby Hamilton and Ken Schrader.
"The main reason I am here is to become the first driver from my country to qualify," said Contreras before his run. "I have worked hard to get where I am. I have studied the history and I hope I can become the first. It would be very rewarding and satisfying. It would make me very proud."
Mission accomplished. Contreras posted an identical speed and time as two-time series champion Ron Hornaday.
The 29-year-old Mexican driver was the 1998-99 Mustang Cup champion in Mexico, and runner-up this year in Formula 3000 competition. His brother-in-law is the father of Michel Jourdain, who happens to be in town competing with the CART series.
Whether or not Contreras can continue to outdo most of his American counterparts Saturday remains to be seen. But he has already proven he belongs, both in the race and in the history books.