Rogelio Lopez Escapes South Boston With Top-Ten Finish South Boston, Va. (May 31, 2008) - A top-ten finish at South Boston Speedway might sound like another day at the office for Aguascalientes, Mexico driver Rogelio Lopez, but when that top-ten...
Rogelio Lopez Escapes South Boston With Top-Ten Finish
South Boston, Va. (May 31, 2008) - A top-ten finish at South Boston Speedway might sound like another day at the office for Aguascalientes, Mexico driver Rogelio Lopez, but when that top-ten came after a race filled with wrecks and a questionable aggressive driving penalty, that tenth place finish suddenly becomes that much more impressive.
Lopez entered the NASCAR Camping World East Series race ninth in the series' points standings, ready to take on the shortest track on the schedule. Last year he finished fifth in last year's edition; the driver of the No. 03 TELMEX/Lucas Oil Chevrolet was optimistic for improvement with his second visit to the high-banked southern Virginia oval.
In practice, Lopez posted mid-pack practice times, though he spent all of practice running on old tires. In qualifying, he was fourteenth.
"We didn't make a time trial run during practice, and it hurt us a little bit because we didn't really know what to expect during qualifying," he said before the race. "But we're doing all right, we have a good car for the race so we just have to work our way to the front. I'm going to be patient as always; I have to hold off until I see an opportunity to move up. This track is pretty tight and the cars are pretty equal. We have to be patient as there will be a lot of contact here so we have to be careful."
In the race, Lopez had entered the top ten before the halfway point and was looking to move up further. An on-track incident in front of him forced him to take evasive action, but he got involved and then was hit with a surprise penalty.
"Something happened between two of the DEI cars that were in front of me," he explained. "They got together and I just barely touched one of them, but NASCAR had me go to the rear saying I caused the accident. I don't know what kind of decision that was."
Forced to restart from the tail of the 32-car field with a little more than fifty laps to run, Lopez had to make up ground quickly. This was difficult as the longest green-flag run in that last stretch was eight laps as cautions plagued the remainder of the race. But at the end of the race, Lopez had made it back to the top ten to hang onto ninth place in the season standings after the third of thirteen races.
"This was one of the best cars I've ever driven," he said after the race. "Dave Davis, TELMEX, and Lucas Oil are all working together to make sure we have really good cars to race. The entire team is working really hard and the results are starting to show what we're capable of. It was just one of those nights where things were a mess. We're here to race and even if we don't like the call that went against us, we still have a job to do. We got the best finish we could given the circumstances."
The Dave Davis Motorsports team has only a few days before leaving for the next race, which will be at the 2.45-mile road course at Watkins Glen, New York.
"We're really looking forward to going to Watkins Glen," he said. "We have a brand new car from front to rear, everything on the car is brand new. We haven't even tested it yet, but I don't see why it won't be good once we get it to the track. We'll have a lot of guests from Mexico coming to see us race, and it would be really special to win that race for them."