Strong field set for Sunday's Telcel-Motorola Mexico 200 presented by Banamex DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 28, 2006) -- The excitement of the new NASCAR Busch Series season -- the silver anniversary of the series -- is still in the air just two...
Strong field set for Sunday's Telcel-Motorola Mexico 200 presented by Banamex
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 28, 2006) -- The excitement of the new NASCAR Busch Series season -- the silver anniversary of the series -- is still in the air just two races into the year.
But with the season's third event marking the series' return to the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez road course in Mexico City, the enthusiasm is as vibrant as the pageantry that will surround the race. As strong as last year's field was, the 2006 group of entrants seems to be even more robust, despite the absence of the last year's race winner and two-time series champion, Martin Truex Jr.
Forty-six drivers are entered, including 29 NASCAR Busch Series regulars. Nine NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series fulltime drivers are in the field as are four road-course aces.
Then, there are the members of the "home team." Seven Mexican drivers will be running on familiar turf. Two of them -- Jorge Goeters (No. 66 Sciotobank/Xtreme Gel Ford) and Adrian Fernandez (No. 57 Lowe's Chevrolet) are among the favorites to win.
Goeters captured the Busch Pole for last year's inaugural event. He led 24 laps before engine problems relegated him to 38th. Despite starting 40th due to a qualifying lap mishap, Fernandez, the former open-wheel star, finished 10th.
The Mexican drivers have not only gained experience driving stock cars, they've gained respect.
"Win? Absolutely they can win," said Carl Edwards (No. 60 Ameriquest Ford), who finished third last year.
"That's why I'm so worried about [this race]."
For Fernandez, a chance to compete in NASCAR at this event last year turned into a six-race opportunity with Hendrick Motorsports.
"I really didn't know what I was getting into last year," Fernandez said of his initial foray into NASCAR. "My goal was to go down to Mexico City, have some fun and try to finish the race. I was a little surprised at how well we ran.
"This time I'm going down there expecting to run well and maybe contend for a victory.
"I think [the fans] were really excited with what they saw last season, and I expect they will be pretty pumped up about this weekend as well. "For NASCAR to succeed in Mexico over time, it is going to need Mexican drivers. Several [drove] in the race last season, and you will see more this season."
"The atmosphere in Mexico City was electric last year," said Kenny Wallace (No. 22 AutoZone Ford).
"Everyone down there was so nice to us and really made us feel welcome. You could really tell that they appreciated us coming so far to race. Everything from the track facilities to the hotels were first class."