WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. – As the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East returns to Watkins Glen Int’l for the first time in five years, 21-year-old Sergio Peña looks to be hitting his stride.
After beginning the season with mixed results, three top 10s through the series’ first 10 events, Peña turned in his best two performances of 2014: a victory in the JEGS 150 presented by Germain Toyota on July 19 at Columbus (Ohio) Motor Speedway, his first series victory in nearly three years, and a fourth-place finish in the Autolite Iridium XP 150 at Iowa Speedway on Aug. 1.
“I think the main thing is all my guys not giving up on me,” said Peña about his recent turn-around. “Everyone’s been working so hard in the shop and it was frustrating for us at the beginning of the season. It’s a new group and it seems like it took some time to get everything figured out, but it I think we’ve got it figured out now.”
With a victory and two top fives in his last two events, Peña, who drives the No. 4 Toyota Racing Development Toyota for Rev Racing as a part of the NASCAR Drive for Diversity Program, now turns his attention to the next two series events and a return to road course racing, an area in which he feels very comfortable.
“Growing up that’s what I raced,” said Peña about running on road courses. “I started racing go karts when I was seven and that was strictly road courses and I also ran formula cars on road courses. That’s my whole entire background, I have more road course racing experience than I do oval racing experience and I thank that advantage is going to be huge with the next two races coming up at Watkins Glen and Virginia Int’l Raceway.”
In three career K&N Pro Series events on road courses, the Winchester, Va., native has two top 10s at Brainerd (Minn.) Int’l Raceway and Lime Rock Park in Lakeville, Conn.
“I’m so, so excited for the next two races,” continues Peña. “I’m really looking forward to these two races. I would say I’m more excited for these two races than any other ones on the schedule.”
Peña, who was only 16 the last time the series visited Watkins Glen, hopes that his excitement and previous road course experience translate to success this weekend at a track he’s dreamed about racing on since he first got into the sport.
“Watkins Glen is a track I’ve wanted to race on since I was a little kid running go karts. It’s one of the tracks I’d always pick when I was playing racing video games. I know it’s going to be tough to pass there, but I’m excited. Fast straightaways going into tight corners is what road course racing is all about.”