After impressing in his first NWES season in 2018 and winning the last two races of the 2019 regular season, Loris Hezemans will become the fifth NWES driver to graduate to a national stage in the United States. The Dutchman will make his NASCAR Xfinity Series debut at Road America this weekend, driving the #99 Koolbox Chevrolet Camaro for BJ McLeod Motorsports.
The number of NASCAR Whelen Euro Series drivers crossing the Atlantic to compete in NASCAR in the US keeps growing as the official NASCAR Series in Europe continues to provide the best opportunities to its drivers to develop their professional career. In February Hezemans became the 19th NWES driver to race in NASCAR in America when he finished an impressive third in his Pro Late Model debut in the World Series Of Asphalt Racing.
"We got in touch with Carlos Lira, who used to field cars both in the Gander Outdoors Truck Series and in the ARCA Racing Series. He was positively impressed by my results and helped getting in touch with BJ McLeod Motorsports. We were looking for a chance to debut in the Xfinity Series on a road course and Road America is the perfect fit," said Hezemans. "I’m really looking forward to go side-by-side with the best NASCAR drivers in the United States."
Competing at the highest level of NASCAR in Europe proved to be a launching point in Hezemans’ career. Coming from Touring cars and GT racing, the Dutchman won his first NWES ELITE 1 Division race in his debut season in 2018 and conquered the Junior Trophy, the special classification rewarding drivers aged 25 and under. In his second full-time NWES season, he sits second in points among the main contenders for the European NASCAR title ahead of the playoffs.
"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," said the 22-year-old Dutch driver.
"Another NWES driver making his debut in a NASCAR national series is the heart of our mission to build a complete path to NASCAR in the US for drivers coming from all over the world. From our NWES Racing School through the NWES ELITE 2 and ELITE 1 Divisions, we prepare drivers step by step and offer true career opportunities at affordable budgets," declared NWES President – CEO Jerome Galpin. "Loris is a young and very talented driver coming from a great racing family. It will be very interesting to see how he will perform in correlation to the performance of the package he will have in his hands!"
Hezemans never raced at Road America and will therefore rely on his NWES experience, simulator sessions and footage analysis to prepare his NXS debut in the best possible way and on BJ McLeod Motorsports to hit the ground running in the first practice session.
"It’s not going to be easy for sure and I’m not setting specific goals. We know that with the package we have a top-15 finish would be a very good result and that with some luck on our side a top-10 fantastic. A little bit of rain would definitely spice things up. I’m watching and analyzing carefully many Road America race to be prepared for different situations, and I’m driving on the simulator to get familiar with the track. I can’t wait to hit the track!" said Hezemans.
"BJ and I are excited to have Loris come on board for the upcoming CTECH Manufacturing 180 – NASCAR XFINITY Series race at Road America. Loris has had a lot of success in the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series and we feel that it will transfer into this weekend." – said Jessica Smith McLeod Co-Owner of B.J. McLeod Motorsports.
BJ McLeod is also looking forward to have Loris as part of the Team.
"I enjoy racing against experienced road course drivers and can’t wait for Loris to bring his skills to our team." – said B.J. McLeod Co-Owner of B.J. McLeod Motorsports and Driver in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and NASCAR XFINITY Series.
The CTECH Manufacturing 180 at Road America is scheduled for Saturday, August 24. The green flag will wave at approximately 21:30 CEST.