Loris Hezemans was impressive in his NASCAR Xfinity Series debut, running as high as 15th in the closing laps of the CTECH Manufacturing 180 at Road America before picking up significant damage from a crash in front of him and crossing the finish line 22nd.
Hezemans was 24th quickest out of 38 competitors in Qualifying, but was forced to start from the back of the grid due to a repair his BJ Mcleod Motorsports team had to perform on the #99 Roux Helmets Camaro. In the first two stages of the CTECH Manufacturing 180, the Dutch driver climbed back up to 23rd and 21st recovering from a couple of slow pit stops, while in the final stage he had to settle for 22nd despite proving a top-15 finish was within his reach.
A power steering failure and a crash he couldn’t avoid proved to be fatal for Hezemans’ ambitions.
“It was a crazy race. It was funny in many ways but it was just a shame in the end. I was running 15th with two laps to go when the power steering gave up! After that somebody wrecked ahead of us and we had no way to avoid the crash. We got some damage at the front which brought the hood open, so I had to drive full throttle looking through the hood flaps holes. Definitely an eventful last couple of laps,” said Hezemans after the race.
The 22-year-old NWES title contender immediately found himself at ease in the very competitive environment of the NASCAR Xfinity Series and battled door-to-door against some of the best NASCAR drivers in the world, showing an impressive pace on the 4.048-mile road course of Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.
“I think we progressed well throughout the weekend and we were on the way to a top-15 finish but in the end we were just in the wrong place at the wrong time,” concluded Hezemans. “I hope I can have an opportunity to run another event, maybe as European Champion, and use this experience to perform better next time.”
Up next for Hezemans are the September 21-22 NASCAR Whelen Euro Series Semi Finals at the Hockenheimring. The Dutchman won his first career NWES race at the iconic German track and will enter the playoffs as one of the main candidates to wear the crown of Euro NASCAR Champion, a feature that would definitely open even more doors for him in North America.