Rogelio Lopez Suffers Rare Parts Failure At Lime Rock Lime Rock, Conn. (August 18, 2007) - It's something that almost never happens to race cars, whether they're on oval tracks or road courses, but it happened to Rogelio Lopez, rookie driver of...
Rogelio Lopez Suffers Rare Parts Failure At Lime Rock
Lime Rock, Conn. (August 18, 2007) - It's something that almost never happens to race cars, whether they're on oval tracks or road courses, but it happened to Rogelio Lopez, rookie driver of the No. 03 Telmex/Lucas Oil Chevrolet on the NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch East Series. Running sixth on the Lime Rock Park road course on Saturday, Lopez's car lost a rear axle cap which forced the team to make repairs on pit road, losing seven laps in the process and relegating the Aguascalientes, Mexico driver to a 22nd place finish.
Lopez, making is first East Series road race, showed his prowess on the twisty track by posting the sixth-fastest laps in both of Friday afternoon's practice sessions. He was pushing hard to get a good starting spot for the race in qualifying, but wound up overdriving and only getting the tenth spot on the grid.
"Practice went good, and then we kind of screwed it up in time trials," he said. "I locked up my brakes coming into the first turn and that's why we didn't get a good lap. We had to start tenth."
Lopez did not stay in tenth long, as he was quickly up to seventh place after just a few laps. He was sixth when he made his fuel stop on lap 19, following the race leader onto pit road. He was set to run to the end of the race after that pit stop, with a plan to take advantage of long runs while taking care of his equipment.
"We worked hard to make sure it was good on the long runs," he said. "I think everybody was shifting into second in the first turn while I was only shifting down to third, trying to make it easier on the tires and the gearbox."
Just a few laps after making his pit stop, though, the car's handling significantly changed and he came onto pit road where the crew learned that the rear axle cap fell off and the axle fell out of the rear end housing. The axle was returned to the Fred Skaff-led team during a caution period and reinstalled in the car, and Lopez was free to complete the race, although he was seven laps down. He wound up finishing 22nd.
"We've got a good road course car but we didn't get to show how good it was," he said, "so we'll have to do a little more work on it and come back next year try it out again.
"I really want to apologize to Marc Davis," Lopez added. "He was on the lead lap and I just ran over him. I think I was faster than he was, but that's not a reason for knocking him off the track so I have to apologize to him for doing that."
Lopez and the rest of the Dave Davis Motorsports crew has just a few days to get ready for the next race on the schedule, August 25th's 150-lap event at Mansfield (Ohio) Motorsports Speedway. It'll be the first time the Busch East Series has raced on the half-mile oval.
"I've never been to that track before, for that matter I've never been to that state before," he said. "We have a good car for that race, and I think that track is similar to Nashville where we won, so I will go there expecting to have a good race."