ES: Thompson: Rogelio Lopez race notes

Rogelio Lopez Earns Powerade Power Move Of The Race At Thompson In Backup Car Thompson, Conn. (July 12, 2008) - After a practice crash left Aguascalientes, Mexico driver Rogelio Lopez having to race his backup car in Saturday's Pepsi Full Fender...

Rogelio Lopez Earns Powerade Power Move Of The Race At Thompson In Backup Car

Thompson, Conn. (July 12, 2008) - After a practice crash left Aguascalientes, Mexico driver Rogelio Lopez having to race his backup car in Saturday's Pepsi Full Fender Frenzy 100, the sixth NASCAR Camping World East Series race of the season, some may have thought his chances for a good finish had disappeared. But Lopez did not quit, and at the end of 100 laps around Thompson (Conn.) International Speedway, he had improved fifteen positions from his starting spot to finish eighth, earning the Powerade Power Move of the Race Award for passing the most cars during the race.

Third fastest in the opening practice session, things took a turn for the worse in the second when Lopez suffered a cut tire that sent his No. 03 TELMEX/Lucas Oil Chevrolet hard into the first turn wall. Unhurt other than a sore ankle, Lopez turned his attention to the spare car prepared by Dave Davis Motorsports.

"We were third in the first practice, and in the second practice we were working on the long runs," he explained. "I'm not sure what really happened, but the team said that the right front tire blew out. I jumped on the brakes and the car wouldn't turn. We hit the wall in turn one pretty hard and I'm feeling lucky that I got out of there without getting hurt."

With no practice on the backup car, Lopez' first on-track activity with it was qualifying through time trials. That result was a 21.105-second lap around the .625-mile oval, only good enough for 23rd fastest.

A quarter of the way through the race, Lopez had only moved up to seventeenth. But the Thompson track demands patience, and Lopez demonstrated that as he slowly started working his way through the field.

"It's hard to pass here, and the field is pretty tight with the cars being so equal," he said. "We passed a lot of cars, but we had to be smart about it. I tried to get one car at a time, one per lap and try to stay patient. It's tough to pass here and sometimes you have to pitch the car sideways or lean on someone to make the pass. It's just the way this track is."

Halfway through, Lopez held the eleventh spot. Through four more cautions and restarts in the race's second half, Lopez raced smart, stayed out of trouble, and finished eighth to notch his second top-ten finish of the season.

"We were pretty excited about coming to Thompson and leaving with a good result. What we got at the end is really good for us considering everything that happened to us," he said.

"We came from the back and we got a top ten. We'd have liked to have the primary car for the race because it was really good, but the backup was also a good car. We put on a good show with a lot of passing so I think it was an exciting race."

While the 2008 season has been one with no shortage of bad luck for Lopez, he has reason to be optimistic as next Saturday he returns to the scene of his first series win. He'll be one of the favorites as the Camping World East Series makes its annual visit to Nashville's Music City Motorplex.

"We're looking forward to going to Nashville next week," he said. "We won there last year. We have some work to do before we go there because we crashed the car we were going to take there, but we're going to figure out something and we'll be all right there. I know we're going to get our wins this year. We've had bad luck every weekend but we've had a fast car every time out. I have to thank Dave Davis and my sponsors, TELMEX and Lucas Oil, for their support."

The Nashville race will be run on Saturday, July 19th with qualifying held at 4:15 p.m. EDT and the race going green at 7:30. The 150-lap feature race will be taped to be aired on SpeedTV on July 30th at noon.

-credit; ajc

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Series NASCAR
Drivers Rogelio Lopez