ES: Watkins Glen: Rogelio Lopez race notes

Rogelio Lopez Suffers Late Flat Tire At Watkins Glen; Finishes Eleventh Watkins Glen, N.Y. (June 8, 2008) - What could have been a top-five finish for Mexican driver Rogelio Lopez turned into another case of bad luck as he was the victim of a...

Rogelio Lopez Suffers Late Flat Tire At Watkins Glen; Finishes Eleventh

Watkins Glen, N.Y. (June 8, 2008) - What could have been a top-five finish for Mexican driver Rogelio Lopez turned into another case of bad luck as he was the victim of a flat tire in the final laps of the NASCAR Camping World Series 125 at Watkins Glen International. Lopez had been running fifth when the race was restarted for the final time, only to run over debris and cut a tire, sending him out of the top ten by the time the race was completed.

Lopez was racing a new Dave Davis-built No. 03 TELMEX/Lucas Oil Chevrolet at Watkins Glen, the challenging upstate New York road course. Lopez, making his first visit to the storied track, quickly got up to speed. In the two practice sessions, he posted the fourth-best lap in each and looked to be in great shape for qualifying. But a transmission failure during time trials meant he would have to start from the rear of the field.

Despite starting in the back, Lopez proved that he was still going to be a driver to watch as he sped into the top ten after just thirteen laps - three of which were run under the yellow flag. He made his scheduled pit stop for gas on lap 17 of 51 and from that point was set to run to the finish.

"We had a really good car during the race," said the driver from Aguascalientes, Mexico. "We were fast and passing cars and I wasn't even trying to push it that hard. We were just trying to get ourselves in a good place to run where we wouldn't get in trouble and then we could make our strategies for the end of the race."

Following a two-hour race stoppage for rain, Lopez resumed the race already back in eighth place. He was sixth with five laps to go in the race's scheduled distance, then fifth after another driver's blown engine scattered oil and debris on the track. The race cars were again stopped and track cleanup began anew.

The race resumed with a single attempt at a green-white-checker finish that extended the race distance to 55 laps. When the race resumed, Lopez started to make his move to get closer to the front, but debris on the track caused a tire to get cut and he had to slow. By the time the field came around to take the checkered flag, he was eleventh.

"We should have had a top-five or even a top-three," he said after the race. "NASCAR did not do a good job cleaning the track and we shouldn't have gone back to racing until everything was picked up. The track was a mess and that was the difference between finishing third and finishing eleventh."

Lopez and the Dave Davis Motorsports team has a couple weekends away from the track coming up to prepare for the fifth of thirteen NASCAR Camping World East Series race, which will be on June 27 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. The last time the series visited this track, Lopez posted the fastest qualifying time to earn his first pole position, and went on to finish the race third.

-credit: ddm/ajc

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Series NASCAR
Drivers Rogelio Lopez