Pena to race in K&N Pro Series West
Posted: January 25, 2013
WINCHESTER — Winchester native Sergio Pena announced Thursday night that he will continue his auto racing career with a new team in a new racing series.
Pena, a 19-year-old James Wood High School graduate, signed a deal Thursday with Bill McAnally Racing (BMR), based in Roseville, Calif., to drive their No. 16 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota Camry in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West for 2013.
Pena recently completed his third season in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East for Hattori Racing Enterprises.
“This is an unbelievable opportunity,” Pena said in a phone interview while in California. “I’m excited to be part of a team like Bill McAnally Racing and be associated with NAPA and Toyota.
“We didn’t have the year we wanted that last year, but I’ve done well in the East. If I perform like I think I’m capable of, hopefully I can win a championship in the West with this team.”
On the East circuit in 2012, Pena placed 10th in the final standings with three top 5s and eight top 10s in 14 starts one year after placing fifth with three wins, four top 5s and seven top 10s in 12 starts in his second of two seasons with Revolution Racing.
But the main reason why he’s switching teams is because he’ll be able to receive more financial support from BMR than he would from Hattori Racing. Pena said finances had gotten to the point that there was no way he could continue with Hattori, a team he’ll always be grateful to for allowing him to continue his career.
Pena said he’s always loved California going back to his days as a youth when he competed on the go-kart circuit and the Formula TR Pro Series (a lower-level Formula One series).
Pena is also looking forward to working with the BMR garage, which ideally will help put a car on the track that Pena can feel confident in.
“There were a couple of times where I made some dumb mistakes this year, but we had a number of mechanical failures,” said Pena of his 2012 season. “It was no one’s fault, it just seemed that whatever could go wrong, did go wrong. We would always be fast in qualifying and testing, but we were just unlucky at times in the races.”
Pena feels his 2011 season showed his potential, and with BMR having won five West series championships he feels that will bode well for his chances not just for a championship, but for becoming a better driver.
Because of his Formula One background, Pena also likes the fact that he’ll be able to compete on three road courses, a couple of which he has experience with either from personal driving or computer simulation.
Pena also feels a well-known brand like NAPA will also help him.
“I think that might help with my fan base,” Pena said. “I think people see NAPA and they pull for a company like that.”
Based on the statement he made in a press release, McAnally thinks Pena should have no trouble attracting more followers.
“I am excited to have Sergio become part of the team,” he said. “We have a strong program prepared for the 2013 season. We are confident Sergio will continue the winning tradition at BMR that has led to a record 50 series wins and five series championships.”
As a result of his new deal, Pena will be moving away from numerous family members and friends, and the Radford University sophomore will not enroll in college courses next semester.
The 16-race West season starts Feb. 19 and runs through Nov. 9, and Pena will also try to participate in three East series races.
“I’m going to miss everybody back home,” Pena said. “And school’s always important, but I can always go back.
“But this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Not many people get opportunities like this. I have to give everything I have, and that’s what I’m going to do.”
— Contact Robert Niedzwiecki at email@example.comFollow on Twitter @WinStarSports1