CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Chasing a dream is always a daunting task, especially when you have moving to a new country nearly 2,000 miles away from home on your to-do list.
That's what Andres Perez de Lara had to do this year to compete in the ARCA Menards Series. The 18-year-old signed a full-time deal to pilot the No. 2 Chevrolet for Rev Racing in 2023, while also competing in the NASCAR Mexico Series for Escudería Telmex in his home country.
So far, he's made the best of his opportunity by scoring three top 10s in the four ARCA races this year with a best finish of fourth at Phoenix and Talladega. He even scored a top 10 in his debut ARCA race at Bristol in September 2022.
Perez de Lara currently ranks fifth in the ARCA standings and is poised for a great run on Friday in the General Tire 150 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. For the teen driver, it's all about seeing your hard work pay off.
"I've been working hard and we were making progress," Perez de Lara said. "I have made so many changes in my life since the beginning of the year... dedicating most of my time for racing. So I think I'm mentally I'm really prepared for the races, and the results have been showing."
In the NASCAR Mexico Series, Perez de Lara also sits fifth in the standings and has scored two top fives in the season's first three races.
Perez de Lara has held a passion for racing since he was a kid watching his father, Ricardo Perez de Lara, race in various Mexican racing series and the Ferrari Challenge North America.
Because of his upbringing around racing and his work ethic, Perez de Lara always believed getting to this level was achievable for him.
"I always thought it was gonna be possible to get to these places, I think my racing career so far has been like going step by step," said Perez de Lara. "There's a lot of ways to develop me as a driver and as a team, we can still keep going."
Perez de Lara was pursued by NASCAR to sign up for the Drive for Diversity program when he was racing in a lower series in Mexico.
After impressing people with the program and putting in good results, he was signed with Rev Racing, which has fielded a number of NASCAR Drive for Diversity drivers that have spawned successful careers such as Kyle Larson, Daniel Suárez, and Bubba Wallace.
Moving to another country and dealing with culture shock was a challenge for Perez de Lara but he says he's managing to handle it well.
"It was just from one day to another that I had to make the decision [to move to Charlotte]," Perez de Lara said. "I didn't think much about it when I had this opportunity to come here... but to move to a different culture and then be here by myself... it was hard in the beginning. I'm really enjoying it right now."
After ping-ponging across the continent, Perez de Lara now gets to stay around the Queen City this week to compete at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Friday.
Although he's never raced at the track, Perez de Lara is confident his team's proximity to the track will play a role in him performing well.
"I drive by [the track] every day. So I think I kind of know how what to expect," Perez de Lara said. "We've been working in the simulator... and then we're doing some work here in the shop with the cars. So everything should be really good."
Perez de Lara is biding his time and learning all he can in ARCA and the Mexico Series for now but is hopeful to take that next step to one of NASCAR's top three series soon.
The General Tire 150 is on Friday at 5 p.m. The Charlotte Motor Speedway will host the NASCAR Cup Series in the Coca-Cola 600 on Sunday, the NASCAR Xfinity Series in the Alsco Uniforms 300, and the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series in the North Carolina Lottery 200.