Rogelio Lopez Overcomes Problems En Route To Finishing Stafford Seventeenth Stafford Springs, Conn. (June 8, 2007) - Rogelio Lopez, driver of the No. 03 Telmex/Lucas Oil Ford Taurus in Stafford Motor Speedway's NASCAR Grand National Division, ...
Rogelio Lopez Overcomes Problems En Route To Finishing Stafford Seventeenth
Stafford Springs, Conn. (June 8, 2007) - Rogelio Lopez, driver of the No. 03 Telmex/Lucas Oil Ford Taurus in Stafford Motor Speedway's NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch East Series race at Stafford (Conn.) Motor Speedway, overcame a handful of problems both before and during the race on his way to finishing seventeenth.
Lopez, whose primary car was severely damaged in a last-lap wreck in the previous race last Saturday, was behind the wheel of a back-up car for Friday night's TSI Harley-Davidson 150. The car needed some work before it could get up to speed, though, as the brake master cylinder needed replacing during the first practice, causing the Mexico City driver to miss the entire first session.
In qualifying, Lopez was slowed as the car that went out before him dumped water on the track. This resulted in a 28th-best qualifying effort. After qualifying, as the team was moving the car to its spot in the pre-race impound, a small electrical fire occurred behind the dashboard. Quick work by the Fred Skaff-led Dave Davis Motorsports team got the car repaired well in time for the race, but since the car was taken out of the impound, Lopez was forced to start at the rear of the field.
It didn't take long for the Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate to make his way to the front. From the 30th starting spot, he got halfway through the field just forty laps into the 150-lap event. A big move on the following restart got him all the way up to eighth place, but things took a turn for the worse when he got spun out on lap 70.
"We had a strong car," he said. "We quickly moved into the top ten, but on a restart another car just ran over me. I don't even know what happened. We had to go to the back again with a lot of work to do."
Undaunted, Lopez started moving through the pack again. Back in the top fifteen, he tried making more progress but having to come from the back of the field twice had taken its toll on his tires.
"We had run out of tires. I had to use so much tire to get to the front since we started so far back, I had nothing left to come back with after that spin," he explained.
Lopez hung on to finish seventeenth. After the fifth race of the season, Lopez now stands third in the series point standings, just 57 points out of the lead. He continues to run second in the Rookie of the Year chase, four points away from leading that category.
"We missed the setup a little bit, but it was a backup car," he said. "This was one of those races that we just have to put behind us. We were behind from the start with the master cylinder in the first practice and then the fire in the wiring after qualifying. We had to start in the back and that made it a pretty tough race. But we'll put it behind us and work hard to make sure we have a good car New Hampshire."
New Hampshire International Speedway hosts the next Busch East Series race on Friday, June 29th. Lopez and Dave Davis Motorsports tested at the 1.058-mile track in May and expect to return running strong.
"We have a lot of things to do," he said, "but we're still looking forward to going to New Hampshire. We tested there and did well."