AVONDALE, Ariz. – official series release – Getty Images for NASCAR photo –
Ruben Pardo couldn’t have asked for a better way to kick off the season.
The 35-year-old Mexico City driver dominated the NASCAR season opener at Phoenix International Raceway Friday, leading a sweep of the top three spots in the Toyota 120 by HO Speed Racing.
Pardo led the final 28 laps en route to his seventh career win. Earlier in the day, Pardo drove the No. 15 Citizen/Potosinos Toyota to a record lap at the one-mile track. He broke his own track mark, set last year.
But unlike 2013, where Pardo settled for fifth, he was able to finish the night in Victory Lane.
Pardo held off a late charge from teammate Luis Felipe Montaño in the No. 87 Aeropostale/Integra Toyota. Teammate and car owner Hugo Oliveras also secured a podium finish.
Rogelio López, who presented one of the biggest challenges to Pardo during the race, slipped back to fourth at the finishi, while José Luis Ramírez rounded out the top five.
Defending series champion Abraham Calderón, Jorge Goeters, Irwin Vences, Manuel Gutiérrez and Ruben Garcia Jr. completed the top 10.
Pardo, who finished fourth in the championship standings last season, was making his 135th career start in the NASCAR Mexico Series. He also has six starts in the NASCAR XFINITY Series and made 22 starts in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East in 2006-07. He became the first Mexican-born driver to win in the series with his victory at Lime Rock Park in COnnecticut in 2006.
This is the third consecutive season the NASCAR Mexico Series has opened its schedule in the United States. Pardo joins Calderón (2013) and Daniel Suarez (2014) as winners of the showcase event. This year’s race aired live on NBC UNIVERSO.
The NASCAR Mexico Series will return to the track on April 12 in San Luis Potosi.
CREDIT: Jason Christley, NASCAR