Race Weekend Central

Andres Perez de Lara Prepping for Truck Debut, Splitting Time Between Mexico & U.S.

Andres Perez de Lara spoke with Frontstretch‘s Stephen Stumpf on Friday (May 24) before the ARCA Menards Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Perez de Lara scored his second pole in the ARCA Series and finished third, thereby extending his points lead in the series.

Perez de Lara is running double duty in 2024, with a full-time schedule in both ARCA and the NASCAR Mexico Series. Stumpf also sat down to chat with him about his upbringing in Mexico City, how he got into racing, the current racing scene in Mexico and his upcoming NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series debut with Spire Motorsports at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway this Saturday (June 1).

Stumpf: Your dad raced back in Mexico City. What was your experience with racing like growing up, and at what age did you kind of come to the conclusion that this is something you wanted to do as well?

Perez de Lara: I grew up in like cars, road courses and stuff, just kind of following what my dad did back in Mexico. And then a couple of years ago, maybe like five years ago, I made my switch to NASCAR. And then I’ve been working hard to get here to this level in terms of NASCAR stuff. …

There’s a lot of stuff different, not even on track, but also the culture outside of it. Language is one thing. And since being at that adaptation process, I think now it’s starting to get so much better, and again, the results are coming.

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Stumpf: For those that may be unfamiliar, could you kind of explain what the racing ladder in Mexico is like? And obviously, you’ve done plenty. You were in the NACAM Formula 4, the Mikel’s Truck Series, where you won a title there, and the NASCAR Mexico Challenge Series, where you also won a title there.

Perez de Lara: So in Mexico, NASCAR Mexico is starting to become a very competitive series, but we don’t have ovals like [Charlotte] and we don’t have speed like that. But at the end of the day, the oval thing and the race craft that it gives you in terms of NASCAR, it’s very helpful. Like I think any like good driver over there can come here and start working hard.

Because there’s so much different stuff, that once you figure that part out, it works. I’m still doing the Mexico Series, like another thing is right after this ARCA race, tomorrow I’m flying back to Mexico for a race there. So, I’m doing a kind of doubleheader in two days. So, that’s another thing. And just the more time I can be in the car, I think it’s better, and it just gives me more laps, more confidence in everything.

Stumpf: You’re running full time in both ARCA and the NASCAR Mexico Series. How much would you say you would split between the U.S. and Mexico in terms of racing?

Perez de Lara: I’d say in terms of racing, I spend way more time here in the U.S. because we got more races, and I try to be more involved here, because we got simulators, we got people working in the shop. There’s a lot of stuff going on in here. I try to be as much involved in the team as I can. And then in Mexico, I’ve been in that series for a while. So now I think I can go back to the races, and I know the race craft there good enough so I can go straight to the race and be competitive.

Stumpf: This year in the Mexico Series, what was new was that you guys got to share the spotlight with the Cup drivers at the Clash in February in Los Angeles. Just how big of a moment was that, not only for you, but for the series itself?

Perez de Lara: It was big, it was big to showcase what NASCAR Mexico is. The race was great, it was definitely fun to watch. And obviously it got rained out a day early. So, we couldn’t do it like we wish, but it was still a very good show. And yeah, hopefully NASCAR can go to Mexico, and do what we did the other way around.

Stumpf: That’s exactly what I was going to ask next. It’s a possibility that Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City might be on the NASCAR schedule for 2025. How big would it be to have that?

Perez de Lara: Oh, it would be huge, not only for like the Mexican community, but like NASCAR. I think there’s so much potential. A lot of people in Mexico are involved in racing and even NASCAR, it is the fact that they keep taking NASCAR there. I think it will be great. A lot of people will show up, you’ll start to create a lot of interest internationally in terms of like NASCAR and the race itself.

Like, I think that’s a very cool track for us to go. So hopefully it gets done. I’m not sure about that, but if it happens, I’m pretty sure it’s going to be huge for NASCAR and for Mexico.

Stumpf: In NASCAR, Daniel Suarez won the 2016 Xfinity title and became the first Cup winner from Mexico. How big of an inspiration is he? Not only you, but for anyone your age that’s trying to make it?

Perez de Lara: He’s for sure an inspiration. He also came from that same team I’m in NASCAR Mexico and the same team I’m in ARCA. So I’m kind of in a way following what he did. I know that that works, that he’s, he’s proven the road all the way up to the big NASCAR leagues. So, yeah, I’m proud of that.

I’m proud of following his steps in a way, obviously doing a little different because at the end of the day, I want to be at his level someday and try to compete against him.

Stumpf: Here with Rev Racing, this is also the 20th year of NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity program. Nick Sanchez had the throwback truck at Darlington Raceway honoring that. How important has that program been for you and for anyone else in the country, whether they’re drivers or crew members?

Perez de Lara: Huge, you can just check by the results. Kyle Larson, Bubba Wallace and Suarez now in the Cup Series. The fact of them developing all those drivers, and that’s the main purpose of the program, to develop the drivers, help them, especially with things that I can explain, just changing the culture. …

It’s been really helpful, it changed my career and I’m now in the place where I am. Yeah, I can definitely thank Rev Racing, Mexico, NASCAR, Team Chevy. Everybody that has been behind it has just been a game changer for me.

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Stumpf: Now switching gears to ARCA season, you’re the points leader. You’re still searching for your first win. What progress do you guys feel you’ve made this year? And how do you balance wanting to get that first win, but also at the same time, points racing for the championship?

Perez de Lara: For sure. It was kind of a bumpy start to the season with the crash at Daytona. I think we’re finally building some good momentum. We’ve been working hard on the cars, trying to get everything ready. So yeah, I think you always got to keep in mind points racing, and I’m trying to do that, but we’re still early in the season and for sure I want to win a race.

That’s like the main thing on the list right now; just to win a race.

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Stumpf: It was announced recently that you’ll be making your Truck Debut at Gateway. How did that opportunity come about, and how excited are you?

Perez de Lara: This is my first time in Gateway. I think the opportunity is great. I think it just came naturally with the relationship with Rev and Chevrolet and everybody at Spire, they’ve been great for me. I’m really excited about that; we’ve been working hard for that. I think it should be a really good race. Obviously, there’s pressure on it being my first ever start in trucks, but I think we got all the controllables, really good before the race.

I’m pretty confident about it and excited. Just trying to have a good day, very good result there and have a smooth day.

Stumpf: There are plenty of veterans that have run in that No. 7 truck this season. Have you been working with anyone else in getting prepped?

Perez de Lara: I think the team has been so supportive, the crew chief (Brian Pattie) and everybody working that truck. They have helped me. Like I said, I get 20 minutes of practice to get to know the car, track, everything in a series. It’s tough. So obviously the work in the simulator, talking to all those guys is important. …

We’ve been working that hard on that part. It’s next week, so we got to be ready, and we are.

About the author

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Stephen Stumpf is the NASCAR Content Director for Frontstretch and is a three-year veteran of the site. His weekly columns include “Stat Sheet” and “4 Burning Questions.” He also writes commentary, contributes to podcasts, edits articles and is frequently at the track for on-site coverage.

Can find on Twitter @stephen_stumpf.

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