Loris Hezemans’ first day of competing in the NASCAR PEAK Mexico Series proved to be an eventful one as a carburetor issue and a crash in the Saturday’s Practice sessions would force the Dutchman to start Sunday’s race at Mexico City.
Hezemans used the first Free Practice session to familiarize himself with both the Mexico Series cars and the track itself. Despite suffering an early carburetor issue during this session, the 2019 NASCAR Whelen Euro Series champion set a best lap time of 45.342 seconds to finish in 17th place out of 22 cars – 0.961 seconds behind Salvador de Alba Jr. – that took part in the Practice sessions for the Gran Premio FedEx at Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez.
The second and final Free Practice session would see Hezemans improved his best lap time to 44.671 seconds – more than 6 tenths of a second faster than his FP1 time – before he crashed out at Turn 1 late in the session.
As the No. 05 PEAK Antifreeze/NASCAR Whelen Euro Series/Commscope Ford Mustang was unable to be repaired in time for Qualifying, this would ultimately relegate Hezemans to 24th – and last – position in the grid for Sunday’s race.
“We were looking real good until I fucked it up,” said Hezemans in a Facebook post. “The pace looked real promising on old tires but ran too wide into T1 and got onto the marbles. Sucks real bad, we had a good shot at top 5 on new tyres. Tomorrow I try my best making up the spots and having a good race, but I will have to start from last as I will have no chance of getting to qualifying.”
Despite this setback, Hezemans enjoyed the atmosphere of racing in the Mexico Series, citing the friendliness of the competitors and the impressiveness of the facility in place at Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez would made for an impressive event on Sunday.
“It’s a great atmosphere for me, the people are very friendly and everybody has been helping me so it’s very nice to be here,” said Hezemans to the NASCAR PEAK Mexico Series media. “It [Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez] is a very impressive facility. I think its going to be a very nice with all the fans here, so I’m very much looking forward.”
In the meantime, Salvador de Alba Jr. continued his impressive run of performance in Qualifying as he would set a fastest lap time of 43.965 seconds to claim pole position for the race today. Ex-Champ Car race winner and former Xfinity regular Michel Jourdain Jr. would accompany him in the front row whilst championship leader Rubén García Jr. will start from 5th place on the grid.
Despite this, with 30 points separating García Jr. and de Alba Jr. in the championship standings, Garcia Jr. has all but clinched the 2019 NASCAR PEAK Mexico Series title as with only 24 qualifiers in the Gran Premio FedEx, there won’t be enough starters for de Alba Jr. to be able to overcome the points deficit that he had on Garcia Jr.
As Mexico Series still uses the 2011-2015 NASCAR national series point scoring system, the maximum points that de Alba Jr. can get is 48 – 43 points for finishing 1st, 3 points for winning, 1 point for leading a lap, and 1 more bonus point should de Alba Jr. led the most laps – while the lowest amount of points that García Jr. can get is 20 for finishing in 24th and last.
García Jr. only had to start today’s race in order to clinch the 2019 NASCAR PEAK Mexico Series title and tie Germán Quiroga’s record for the most titles won in the NASCAR PEAK Mexico Series.
Disclaimer: Unless noted, all photos used in this article are courtesy of NASCAR Whelen Euro Series / NASCAR PEAK Mexico Series.