Update: This article is updated on August 21 to reflect on updates that have taken in place, such as Hezemans’ No. 99 car being a Camaro instead of a Supra and quotes from Hezemans taken from euronascar.com and leadlap.de.
Yesterday, it was revealed that NASCAR Whelen Euro Series driver Loris Hezemans is scheduled to make his NASCAR Xfinity Series debut for this weekend’s CTECH Manufacturing 180 at Road America. Based on the Preliminary Entry List released by Jayski, Hezemans will drive the No. 99 Chevrolet Camaro (listed as the No. 99 Koolbox Toyota Supra in the Preliminary Entry List) fielded by B.J. McLeod Motorsports.
Hezemans will be the 11th driver to race in B.J. McLeod Motorsports’ No. 99 car this season. D. J. Kennington, Tommy Joe Martins, Jairo Avila Jr., B.J. McLeod, Cody Ware, Todd Peck, Ryan Ellis, Stefan Parsons, Patrick Gallagher, and C. J. McLaughlin have previously driven the No. 99 car over the course of the 2019 NASCAR Xfinity Series season.
Hezemans, the 22-year old Belgium-born Dutch driver, has made major impressions in his short NASCAR career so far. In his Euro Series debut season last year, he finished fourth in the Elite 1 championship having scored one victory in the first race at Hockenheim. He also finished the season as the winner of the Junior Trophy classification for drivers aged 25 and under.
He started his 2019 racing season by competing in the New Smyrna Speedweeks. Hezemans took part in the Pro Late Model category for ATF & Gunslinger, a team owned by former Truck Series champion Mike Skinner. He impressed in his oval debut, as he scored 3 Top 5 and 6 Top 10 finishes in 7 races during the Speedweeks to finish in third overall in the Pro Late Model category standings.
In the Euro Series, he proved to be one of the fastest drivers of the Elite 1 field once again this season as he has scored two race wins already this season, one of which is a memorable first victory in the oval at his home track at Venray. Hezemans currently sits in second in the championship, just 7 points behind championship leader Stienes Longin.
His successes in Euro Series has received praise from many in the NASCAR paddock, including fellow Euro Series competitor and former Formula One champion Jacques Villeneuve, who congratulated Hezemans post-race at Venray after Hezemans bested Villeneuve in a grueling and intense 100-lap race at the half-mile oval.
Hezemans will be the fourth Euro Series driver to race in either Cup, Xfinity, or Trucks after making their NASCAR debuts in the Euro Series. Anthony Gandon was the first driver to do so, as he raced in two Xfinity races in 2013 at Watkins Glen and Mid-Ohio for Rick Ware Racing.
Anthony Kumpen then follows, as the former two-time Euro Series champion and current team manager for PK Carsport have raced in six Xfinity races – three races for Rick Ware Racing in 2015 and three races for Precision Performance Motorsports in 2016 and 2017.
Alon Day is the third and most recent Euro Series driver to do so. Day is also the only one so far to have raced in either the Cup Series or the Truck Series. Day made his Xfinity debut in 2016 for MBM, most notably bringing the team’s “Zombie Dodge” into a Top 15 finish in the wet conditions when the heavens opened in Day’s debut Xfinity race at Mid-Ohio. He took part in two Cup races for BK Racing in 2017 (Sonoma) and 2018 (Richmond 2) as well as two Truck races for Contreras Motorsports in 2016.
Update: Both André Wiegold from leadlap.de and NASCAR Whelen Euro Series has released a statement on Loris Hezemans’ Xfinity debut. In addition, Loris also has made a post in his Facebook page that confirms his participation at Road America. Here’s what Loris had to say:
Loris Hezemans on the post in his official Facebook page: “I cannot be thankful enough to have the opportunity to compete in the second highest NASCAR division, and race among many great drivers. Without a doubt the biggest opportunity I have gotten since I started racing! Our aim would be to score a top 20 to top 15 (finish) ideally, as well as gain experience racing these cars. Thank you Carlos Lira & B.J. McLeod Motorsports for the great opportunity!
Loris Hezemans on Road America: “I am currently analyzing many races in Road America to prepare for different situations. I also drive in the simulator to get to know the track. I can’t wait to finally drive myself on the track!”
Loris Hezemans on how NASCAR Whelen Euro Series have opened the door for him to participate in the Xfinity Series: “Choosing the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series was a fundamental step in my career. NWES provided me with many opportunities and it’s laying the foundations for NASCAR Europe, especially for drivers like me, coming from Europe and not really knowing a lot about NASCAR at the beginning. To be already able to go compete at the NASCAR Xfinity Series level in just one year and a half is incredible. NWES is really showing it is able to bring in people from all over the world and show them what NASCAR is all about.”
Disclaimer: Unless noted, all photos used in this article are courtesy of NASCAR Whelen Euro Series / Stephane Azemard.