PUEBLA, Mexico - Patience and strategy paid off in the long-run for Abraham Calderón.
The 25-year-old from Monterrey, Mexico, finished seventh in Sunday's Ficrea 240 at the Autódromo Miguel E. Abed, to earn his first NASCAR Mexico Toyota Series championship.
Calderón began the season with two very important goals, return to Victory Lane and win a championship. Although he missed on the former, a long-term strategy of consistency and top-10 finishes helped the No. 2 Telcel/Silent Circle Toyota accomplish the most important goal, a Toyota Series crown.
Veteran Homero Richards survived two green-white-checkered finish attempts to win his second race of the season and 14th of his career. The victory breaks a tie with 2012 series champion Jorge Goeters for fourth on the all-time series wins list. "Even though we never got a win this year, being able to bring back the championship to the Telcel racing team feels unbelievalble," said an emotional Calderón following the event. "This victory is for them and everyone who helped support us this year."
Rogelio López crossed the line .097 seconds behind Richards for his fifth top-five finish of the year. He was followed by Irwin Vences, Rafael Martínez and Patrick Goeters.
NASCAR Next alumni Daniel Suárez, perhaps racing in his last series event for the forseable future, won the pole earlier in the day, but mechanical problems caused him down pit road for repairs. He was able to rebound and score his ninth top-10 finish of the season. Suárez will run full-time in the NASCAR XFINITY Series in 2015 with Joe Gibbs Racing.
Calderón, Antonio Pérez, Rubén Rovelo and Elliot Van Rankin rounded out the top 10.
It was a tense competition early in the race between Calderón and NASCAR Next driver Rubén García Jr., who entered the event trailing by four points in the standings. Both drivers worked their way into the top five within the first 15 laps, with García Jr. needing a win, or a finish four spots ahead of Calderón to secure the title. On a Lap 16 restart, García Jr. made an aggressive outside move to try and work his way into the top three, but contact with the No. 6 of López left the 18-year-old Naucalpan, Mexico, native with slight damage to his No. 88 HDI Seguros/Vonhaucke Toyota. The young driver was unable to race back into the top 10 and finished 12th on the afternoon and nine points behind the series champion.
"This is incredible," said Calderón . "It's just amazing. I can't believe it right now. This was one of the toughest races of my life, but to be here as a champion is just unbelievable."
Calderón will be honored for his championship season along with NASCAR's other touring series champions on Saturday, Dec. 13 at the NASCAR Touring Series Awards in the Grand Ballroom of the Charlotte (N.C.) Convention Center at the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
NASCAR IMC PR - OCESA photo