Column: Driver Swap Announcement Kicks Off NASCAR’s International Schedule

Column By: REID SPENCER / NASCAR – DAYTONA BEACH, FL – NASCAR Peak Mexico Series champion Ruben Garcia has always had a fondness for Spain.

Now he’ll get his first chance to race there as part of a driver exchange between the Peak Mexico Series and the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series.

As one of the perks of his championship run, Garcia will compete in the ELITE 1 division of the Euro Series in the season opener at Valencia, Spain, on April 13-14.

After the Euro Series concludes on Oct. 6 in Zolder, Belgium, the 2019 champion will get a chance to race in the NPMS finale at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City on Nov. 30-Dec. 1.

The announcement of the driver exchange comes as NASCAR kicks off its 2019 international schedule. The Peak Mexico Series debuts on Sunday at Autodromo Monterrey, with the Whelen Euro Series following two weeks later. The NASCAR Pinty’s Series will open competition on May 19 at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in Bowmanville, Ontario.

For Garcia, the trip to Valencia will be a pleasant addition to an already busy schedule. The two-time NPMS champion and Drive for Diversity and former NASCAR Next driver also is running full-time in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East, where he already has two victories to his credit.

“It was great news for me, because for the last couple of years, I’ve been trying to put something together to run in Euro NASCAR,” Garcia said. “That’s a series that has been growing a lot and really caught my interest. They go to some really good race tracks, and I’ve seen some races, and they look really, really fun.”

Garcia has visited Spain and has a nucleus of friends there. He’s excited that they will get a chance to see him race on the road course at Valencia.

“That will be great,” Garcia said. “I actually spent New Year’s and Christmas in Spain. One of my best friends from childhood moved to Spain at the same time I moved to the United States. It will be really cool to have some friends that I almost call family to me go to my first race in Valencia.

“I haven’t been to Valencia. I’ve been to Barcelona and Madrid and other of the big cities. So, naturally, I’ll fly into Madrid and then go to Valencia. It’s great, because even though I’m far away from home—or where I’m living in the United States—it’ll still feel like home because I speak the native language there. It’s a country I enjoy traveling to, and I’ll have friends there.”

Garcia also knows he’ll have to rein in his aggressive driving style to acclimate to the European approach to racing.

“They have more the European style of racing, the FIA style of racing,” Garcia said. “It’s different what we do in Mexico and here in the United States. They really don’t have contact there. They’re strong, but they’re very, very respectful.

“That’s something I might need to get used to.”