Photo courtesy of Vincent Bruins / Dutch NASCAR Fans

Loris Hezemans’ debut in the Xfinity Series on yesterday’s race at Road America proved to be a very impressive one. After Hezemans qualified the No. 99 Camaro in 24th position (out of 38), he was forced to start from the back of the grid after the B.J. McLeod Motorsports team made unapproved mechanical adjustments to the car post-qualifying.

Despite this setback, Hezemans fought back to finish in 22nd position and could have finished inside the Top 15 had he didn’t lose power steering on the final restart and didn’t get involved in an incident on the last lap that forced Hezemans to complete his final lap with the hood blocking his view.

Photo courtesy of Loris Hezemans / NASCAR on NBC

“Gutted about missing out on the Top 15. With two laps to go at the restart we were running 15th until the power steering was gone. Then a wreck happened in front with a few cars and I caught some damage, sending the hood open which meant an interesting last lap looking through the hood flap! Even so, P22 out of 38 was the end result, but a P15 was there! Thanks B.J. McLeod Motorsports for helping me through my first Xfinity weekend! Hoping for more to come in the near future!” said Hezemans in a post on his Facebook page post-race.

Hezemans started his day on Saturday by qualifying his No. 99 Koolbox / ROUX Helmets Chevrolet Camaro in 24th place with a time of 2:17.062, more than two seconds faster than the best lap time he set during Friday’s practice sessions. Hezemans’ best lap time was still around 4.3 seconds slower than the pole time set by A.J. Allmendinger, who won the pole position with a time of 2:12.731.

Between qualifying and the race, the B.J. McLeod team opted to make changes to Hezemans’ car. This meant that Hezemans would be forced to start from the back due to the “parc ferme” rules where a team had to run the same car, engine, and gearbox throughout the whole weekend and they’re not allowed to make any changes to the car after qualifying.

Hezemans is one of the five drivers that was sent to the back to the grid for the start. Joe Gibbs Racing’s Brandon Jones was sent to the back for switching to a backup car after crashing his primary car on Practice, Dexter Bean was sent to the back for an engine change, while Hezemans, Nicolas Hammann, and Brandon Brown was sent to the back for making changes to the car post-qualifying.

During the race itself, Hezemans slowly made his way through the field as he made his way first into the Top 30, then into the Top 20, and finally inside the Top 15. In fact, when Gray Gaulding caused the final caution with 4 laps to go due to a brake failure that sends his No. 08 Camaro into the barrier into the first corner, Hezemans was classified in 14th position for the final restart.

Unfortunately, the loss of a power steering and the incident mentioned above meant that Hezemans was shuffled back to 22nd position at the line, although it was still a very good performance for the Dutchman in his big debut in the Xfinity Series.

Meanwhile at the front, it was Christopher Bell that would score his sixth victory of the season at Road America after starting from 12th place and led 10 laps out of 45. Austin Cindric, winner of the rounds at Watkins Glen and Mid-Ohio, finished second while championship leader Tyler Reddick completes the podium finishing positions.

Noah Gragson and Kaz Grala completes the Top 5 while Justin Haley, Stage 2 winner Chase Briscoe, Jeremy Clements, Justin Allgaier, and Cole Custer completes the Top 10.

Pole sitter Allmendinger, who won Stage 1, can only finish in 24th position while Matt DiBenedetto crashed out on the final corner on the last lap and was only classified in 27th place despite he led the most laps with 18.

For the full Qualifying results, you can check it out in the link here. As for the full Race results, you can check it out in the link here.

Hezemans will be back in action for the round 10 and 11 of the 2019 NASCAR Whelen Euro Series season, the American Fan Fest Semi Finals at Hockenheimring National on 21-22 September. He currently sits in second in the championship – just 7 points behind championship leader Stienes Longin – and will be looking to finish strongly to put himself in position to potentially win the championship at the season finale races in Zolder on October.

Disclaimer: Unless noted, all photos used in this article are courtesy of Nathalie Bijeau / B.J. McLeod Motorsports.

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