ES: Iowa: Rogelio Lopez race notes

Rogelio Lopez Eleventh In NASCAR Combination Race At Iowa Speedway Newton, Iowa (May 18, 2008) - Rogelio Lopez started Sunday's NASCAR Camping World East/West Series combination race at Iowa Speedway in the eleventh position, and at the end of...

Rogelio Lopez Eleventh In NASCAR Combination Race At Iowa Speedway

Newton, Iowa (May 18, 2008) - Rogelio Lopez started Sunday's NASCAR Camping World East/West Series combination race at Iowa Speedway in the eleventh position, and at the end of 200 laps of racing on the 7/8-mile oval, he finished eleventh. In between, he ran as high as fifth before the tires on his No. 03 TELMEX/Lucas Oil Chevrolet started giving up, and then he had to survive a scrape with the outside wall.

Lopez put up encouraging practice times in sessions held both Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning, and that gave the Dave Davis Motorsports team hope that time trials would provide an up-front starting position. Lopez, from Aguascalientes, Mexico, posted the eleventh-fastest time.

"Our qualifying run was not what I was expecting," he said. "In the last practice session we made a mock qualifying run and it was a little bit on the loose side. On our time trial run it was still too loose coming of the turns and that hurt us a little bit. We're starting in eleventh place and we should be all right. We practiced mostly on old tires so we know what the car's going to do as the race goes on."

After a pair of early cautions, the race settled into a long green-flag run that ended with caution on lap 51. Lopez remained on the track while many of his competitors pitted, and this moved him up in the running order to tenth. Similar strategy on the following yellow moved Lopez all the way up to fifth, but he gave up that track position to make a stop of his own under a lap 74 yellow flag.

Following a pair of stops under a lap 93 caution, Lopez had his team put away the tools because he was set to run to the finish. He took the restart in nineteenth and raced into the top five again, but another competitor forced him into the outside wall, and with his tires worn, he wasn't able to make up the ground lost in the incident. He wound up eleventh at the end of 200 laps.

"I'm really happy with how this race turned out," he said after the race. "The team was great on the pit stops and the car worked really well. We got pretty tight at the end, our tires were pretty well used up at the finish. When we got fresh tires on, the car was great but as they wore it was hard to drive. I was working hard to catch the guys in front of me. I was running sixth and another car put me in the wall. I lost a lot of momentum and a bunch of spots, and after that it was hard to make those spots back up. But we had a pretty good car, we have to work on it a little more but I'm happy with how it raced today."

The NASCAR Camping World East Series returns to its short-track roots for the next event on the schedule, which is a May 31 150-lap race at South Boston (Virginia) Speedway. Lopez finished fifth there last year, but the race was marred by a multiple-car wreck in the first turn after the checkered flag.

"South Boston was a really good track for me last year," he said. "The only downside to last year's race was wrecking after taking the checkered flag with a bunch of cars. We'll be good there. I don't know which car we'll take there but I'm thinking seriously about taking this one. We'll have to decide when we get back to the shop. We're eleventh in points now and catching the guys in front of us, and we're going to be strong as the season goes on."

-credit: acj

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Series NASCAR
Drivers Rogelio Lopez