BUSCH: Mexico City: News of note, schedule

NASCAR Mexico Series Set For Debut On Sunday Inaugural NASCAR Mexico Series Season Debuts Sunday The NASCAR Busch Series made history two years ago with its inaugural race in Mexico City -- the first points event for the series on ...

NASCAR Mexico Series Set For Debut On Sunday

Inaugural NASCAR Mexico Series Season Debuts Sunday

The NASCAR Busch Series made history two years ago with its inaugural race in Mexico City -- the first points event for the series on international soil.

Now another NASCAR series is preparing for its debut at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, the NASCAR Mexico Series, which contests its first-ever race on Sunday as a precursor to the NASCAR Busch Series event.

The formation of the NASCAR Mexico Series is fueling a transition from the country's historically open-wheel racing fan base to stock car racing.

As the NASCAR Busch Series race continues to establish itself as one of the premier motorsports events in Mexico, the new touring series offers opportunities for Mexico's top teams and drivers to showcase their talents in a NASCAR-sanctioned system.

The 2007 schedule features 14 races over a nine-month span from March through November. Races will take place on 10 ovals and four road courses in seven of Mexico's major cities.

Each race is expected to feature an average of 30 cars.

Additionally this year, three NASCAR Mexico Series drivers -- including 2006 NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch East Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year Ruben Pardo -- plan to run full-time in the Busch East Series.

Hometown Heroes, Road-Course Aces In Mexico City Mix

Sunday's race features another stout list of entries, arguably stronger than the first two series events held in Mexico City.

Along with defending race winner Denny Hamlin and his new nemesis, Boris Said, two international superstars bring another one-two punch to the mix.

Columbia's Juan Pablo Montoya (No. 42 Texaco/Havoline Dodge) will return to his road-course roots and pit his talents against Mexican icon Adrian Fernandez (No. 5 Lowe's Chevrolet), who has come agonizingly close to capturing a checkered flag in the first two races.

Hometown favorites Michel Jourdain Jr. (No. 17 Dish Network Ford), Carlos Contreras (No. 22 Family Dollar Dodge) and Jorge Goeters (No. 27 Scioto Bank Ford) -- who claimed the inaugural Busch Pole at the track in 2005 -- also return.

Fellow Mexicans Rogelio Lopez (No. 67 Telmex Dodge) and Antonio Perez (No. 68 Telmex Dodge) are teammates.

Canadians Ron Fellows (No. 33 Camping World Chevrolet), Montoya's teammate Scott Pruett (No. 41 Wrigley's Juicy Fruit Dodge) and John Fitzpatrick Jr. (No. 0 Hefty/RACEGIRL Chevrolet) are joined by Australian Marcos Ambrose (No. 59 Kingsford Ford) -- who finds himself in 10th place in series points after the first two races. Ambrose is a veteran racer but a rookie in the NASCAR Busch Series.

Venezuelan Alex Garcia (No. 98 Dixien-OmniSource Corp. Chevrolet) looks to transition from open-wheel racing to stock cars.

Road warrior P.J. Jones (No. 21 AutoZone Chevrolet) is a surprise entry in the 2006 series championship car, running in place of reigning series champion Kevin Harvick and his teammate Timothy Peters.

Early-Season Results Point To Close Manufacturer Race

Ford pulled to within two points of leader Chevrolet in the Bill France Performance Cup standings following Matt Kenseth's victory at California last Saturday.

Newcomer Toyota is keeping pace with those already in double-digits in points, standing third with 10. Dodge is fourth with six points.

Chevrolet has claimed the first two wins at Mexico City but Ford (2005) and Dodge (2006) have captured Busch Poles for previous events.

Said's Stats Create High Expectations

When the NASCAR Busch Series or the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series comes to a road course, it's time for Boris Said to shine.

Sunday in Mexico City at the world-famous Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez will be no different.

For the second-consecutive season, Said will drive for Evernham Motorsports and the expectation will translate exactly the same south of the border as it does in the U.S.

He'll be expected to post a top finish. That's what happens when you win a Busch Pole -- as he did last year -- and when you dominate the Loop Data statistics -- as he does every year.

Of the drivers competing in Sunday's Telcel-MOTOROLA Mexico 200, Said owns a top track-specific Driver Rating of 119.1 (he has an average finish of 3.5 at the track). He also excels in another key stat -- Average Running Position. Said boasts a field-best average running position of 7.494. Said's name is peppered throughout the Loop Data stats, usually in the top five.

Adding intrigue to Sunday's race will be the hometown heroes involved in the event. Mexican-born drivers Carlos Contreras, Jorge Goeters, Adrian Fernandez and Michel Jourdain Jr. all own impressive stats at their "home" track.

Contreras, Goeters and Fernandez have top-15 Driver Ratings while Jourdain has 27 Quality Passes, which ranks in the top 15.

Somehow lost in the fray could be last year's winner Denny Hamlin. Not typically known for his road-course prowess, Hamlin has a Driver Rating of 110.6, which is second only to Said among the drivers in Sunday's field.

ETC

Kevin Harvick (Daytona International Speedway) and Matt Kenseth (California) are the first drivers to sweep NASCAR Busch Series and NASCAR NEXTEL Cup wins to open a season. ... Some drivers will be making their road course debuts this weekend and went through extensive training in the off-season to hone their skills in preparation for this event and the other two road courses on the 2007 schedule at Montreal and Watkins Glen. Shane Huffman (No. 88 U.S. NAVY Chevrolet) Dodge) attended the Bondurant Racing School. Steve Wallace (No. 66 Homelife Communities Dodge) was tutored by Boris Said. Kertus Davis (No. 77 Dollar General Chevrolet) trained at Virginia International Raceway -- his only other "appearance" on a road course came when he was eight-years-old in a go-kart. ... Qualifying will utilize a road race format where groups of cars assigned by practice time will have six minutes on the track. A car's best lap time during the session will be the lap time of record. ... The series continues its season-opening cross-country tour March 10 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Teams tested at the 1.5-mile track Feb. 5-6, gathering notes for the intermediate venues on the schedule. Las Vegas will be the fourth different track layout the series has competed on in the first four races this year.

***

The Race: Telcel-MOTOROLA Mexico 200 presented by Banamex

The Place: Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez
The Date: March 4, 20071

The Time: 2:00 p.m. (ET)
TV: ESPN2, 1:30 p.m. (ET)

Track Layout: 2.518-mile road course

Race Purse: $2,512,372

2005 Winner: Denny Hamlin
2006 Pole: Boris Said

Schedule (all times local):
Fri., March 2 - Practice,1-2:15 p.m., Rookie Practice,3-3:30 p.m., Final Practice 3:45-5:00 p.m.

Sat., March 3 - Qualifying, 10:30 a.m. (Impound).

-credit: nascar

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Series NASCAR XFINITY
Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya