MOORESVILLE, N.C. – Audio and story by Race Chaser Online Mid-Atlantic Correspondent Marshall Gabell – Tom Pennington/Getty Images North America photo –
With less than a week before Speedweeks in southern Florida, some drivers are still scrambling to secure rides and others are already preparing for their endeavors this season.
NASCAR K&N Pro Series East competitor and former Rev Racing driver Sergio Pena removed himself from the ‘panicking list’ this afternoon after confirming he will compete in select events for Jeff Spraker’s Spraker Racing Enterprises team, with backing from Hattori Racing Enterprises.
Pena, who was not announced to Rev Racing and the Drive For Diversity program this season, says the deal to run with Spraker and Hattori was sporadic and not even on his radar until he got a call early this week.
“As of about a week ago I was not going to be down in Speedweeks running at New Smyrna,” Pena said. “But I got a call from Shigeaki Hattori and basically he needs some owner points in the (K&N Series). So I am going to be running down there in Jeff Spraker’s car that will be dressed as Hattori’s machine.”
Hattori, who also fields entries in the NASCAR XFINITY Series, and Pena were paired together during the 2012 K&N Pro Series season, making this go-round feel more like a homecoming than a new partnership.
“It is really cool,” Pena said about returning to Hattori Racing Enterprises. “Shigeaki and I have remained close friends over the season. But this deal isn’t exactly for his team; it is going to be Jeff Spraker’s car and crew. It really is just the No. 37 car with the No. 1 on the side.”
Pena, who has expressed interest before about hunting a ride in the XFINITY or Camping World Truck Series, has not had talks with Hattori about competing for their national series operation, but the soon-to-be 23-year-old did not shut the door completely on the idea.
”Unfortunately there hasn’t,” Pena said about any plans to run for Hattori Racing in the XFINITY Series. “Shigeaki has been in Japan these past few weeks, so it has been hard to communicate. But we will see him down in Florida so I will definitely bring that up.”
In addition to New Smyrna this weekend, Pena hopes to debut his own team, which is still unnamed, in the K&N Pro Series and run eight or nine separate races – a project that the Winchester, Virginia native is looking forward to starting soon.
“The eight or nine other races we are doing this season will actually be run with my own team,” Pena explained. “So we are going to attempt to get that out on the track and see what we can do. But there are a lot of people willing to help even though it is our own deal.”
“We have a couple of people working with me – like past crew chiefs – that are going to help out along the way. As far as the equipment, I have one road course car and one for the bigger tracks. So we will see what we can do with that. It will be pretty cool.”
Pena did not release official dates, but he did announce that the team will enter their first race at Iowa Speedway later this season with hopes to compete at larger tracks on the schedule.
“We plan on the first race being Iowa with the new team,” Pena said. “So we are going to go from there and also hope to run Iowa, Richmond and New Hampshire – just all of those bigger races.”
Listen in to an extended cut of our Marshall Gabell’s conversation with Sergio Pena about his 2015 plans below: