ES: Greenville-Pickens: Rogelio Lopez race notes

Cut Tire Relegates Rogelio Lopez To Sixteenth In Camping World East Series Opener Greenville, S.C. (April 19, 2008) - Rogelio Lopez was looking forward to putting together a solid run at Greenville-Pickens Speedway, the site of the first race of...

Cut Tire Relegates Rogelio Lopez To Sixteenth In Camping World East Series Opener

Greenville, S.C. (April 19, 2008) - Rogelio Lopez was looking forward to putting together a solid run at Greenville-Pickens Speedway, the site of the first race of the 2008 Camping World East Series season. But after a collision with another competitor's car left the Mexican driver of the No. 03 Telmex/Lucas Oil Chevrolet with a flat tire, he had to pit under green to change it and he was left to settle for a sixteenth place finish.

Lopez, runner-up in last year's Rookie of the Year standings with one win and one pole, entered the American Revolution 150 at the South Carolina track with sights on improving on last year's fifth place finish. After posting just the 28th fastest time in practice, the Dave Davis Motorsports team knew it had work to do. That work paid off with improvement in time trials, where Lopez qualified 22nd.

"It was a tough afternoon," he said. "We're struggling a little bit, but I think we have a good car for the long runs. It's just not as good when it's on sticker tires. We'll have to work our way to the front, and it's going to be a tough night. We'll have to be careful and save our tires on our way to the front. I know we can do it, we just have to stay out of trouble getting there."

Lopez was working in the right direction as he was in the top fifteen after fifty laps were run. But after a lap 66 restart, Lopez was banged into by another car and that contact caused a tire to go flat on the Telmex Chevrolet.

"It comes with the territory when you run at a bullring," he said. "Everyone's trying to take advantage of every little opening and they try too hard to pass and you get run over."

Lopez was forced to pit under green to have that tire changed, and that cost him two laps on the track. He got one of those laps back during the remainder of the event, but that was only enough to allow him to get back to sixteenth place at the end of the race.

"We learned a lot today," he said after the race. "We made some changes during the race that helped us a little bit, so we know we have a good car the next time we race it. It was unfortunate that we had a flat tire after we got run into. We thought this car was going to be good here but we missed something on the setup. We'll have to go back to the shop and see what's wrong. We came out of here in one piece and we're looking forward to the next race."

The next race will be at Iowa Speedway in a combination of the east and west Camping World Series. It heralds a promising summer for Lopez, who will have three new cars to race.

"We have a brand new car coming for Iowa, a second brand new car coming for New Hampshire Motor Speedway, and another brand new car coming for the road courses," he said. "We have a lot of work to do to finish those cars, and we're going testing as well, so we're going to very busy but it's going to make us better as the season goes along.

"Now that we've run this first race, we have almost a month off," Lopez continued. "We learned a few things here tonight and we know what we have to do to get the cars better for the rest of the season. We're going to improve and come back strong like we did last year."

-credit: ajc

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Series NASCAR
Drivers Rogelio Lopez