In preparation for his NASCAR Whelen Euro Series campaign, 2018 NWES Junior Trophy winner Loris Hezemans put up an impressive performance at New Smyrna Speedway in the World Series of Asphalt Racing. In what was his American NASCAR debut, the 21-year-old Dutch driver led laps and finished third twice in the very competitive Pro Late Model Division, closing the week third in points with three top-5s and six top-10s in 7 races. His two third place finishes represent the best result ever for a Euro NASCAR driver in the Pro Late Model Division.
“Speedweeks has been an amazing experience for me, I have learned a tremendous amount as well as proven that a European driver can be successful in the US,” said Hezemans. “I would like thank Mike, Dustin and Jamie Skinner as well as the whole ATF & Gunslinger crew who have been simply great all week! And of course NASCAR and the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series for providing such competitive series in the US and in Europe. Racing NWES prepared me perfectly for the environment, the procedures and the rules I found here, greatly speeding up my adaptation to Pro Late Model racing.”
Putting his Euro NASCAR experience at work, Hezemans was impressive throughout the week, racing like a veteran among some of the best Pro Late Model drivers, but his best race was definitely the most prestigious of the Speedweeks: Friday’s 100-lap Zack Donatti Memorial. Piloting the #5H ATF & Gunslinger Toyota Camry fielded by former Truck Series champion Mike Skinner, Hezemans was second in qualifying by a mere .006 seconds, but the inversion gave him the 5th place on the grid. He managed to climb back to second and took the lead in a late restart, but had to set up for third under the checkered flag, bringing home the best result for a Euro NASCAR driver in Pro Late Model.
“I could hold onto the lead for about 8 laps until the #81 came flying as he had really saved his tires very well, while I used them a little too much to come back to the front. I tried to defend second but the tires were too far gone. The final third place is still a great result, I am really happy with it, ” said the Dutchman.
Hezemans will now switch focus back to the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series, where he’s aiming at the title at the wheel of the #50 Hendriks Motorsport Ford Mustang after finishing 4th with 1 win in his debut season in 2018.
“We are looking to fight for the NWES Championship and win it! I think I can take a huge amount of experience and knowledge back home for our NWES oval race in Venray as well as hopefully open up possibilities to further race in the US and continue developing career in NASCAR,” concluded Hezemans.
The 2019 NASCAR Whelen Euro Series season will kick off in Valencia, Spain on April 13-14 at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo with the traditional Valencia NASCAR Fest.