NASCAR Busch Series drivers David Green and Michel Jourdain, Jr. took part in a press conference this morning in the Daytona International Speedway infield media center to discuss preparations for next month's inaugural Telcel-Motorola ...
NASCAR Busch Series drivers David Green and Michel Jourdain, Jr. took part in a press conference this morning in the Daytona International Speedway infield media center to discuss preparations for next month's inaugural Telcel-Motorola Mexico at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez. Green and Jourdain both participated in a media event at the Mexico City track following Daytona testing to promote the first NASCAR race south of the border.
MICHEL JOURDAIN, JR.-10-ppc Racing Ford Taurus
AS A NATIVE OF MEXICO CITY, WHAT ARE YOUR EXPECTATIONS FOR THE RACE? "I'm sure it's going to be huge. If the NASCAR Busch Series went alone to Mexico it would have been a huge event. NASCAR is so big in the States and the press has been following it in Mexico the last couple of years more and more. Since the rumor started about me coming to the series and since we announced our agreement, we've been getting more media, and now with Adrian (Fernandez), this announcement is huge and it's fantastic for me to be racing with Adrian again and in Mexico City. I think it's going to be one of the biggest races of the year for the series and for the track. I think it's going to be the biggest race of the year in Mexico. It's great to be a part of this event."
DOES ADRIAN HAVE SUPERSTAR STATUS IN MEXICO? "He's been in the top of motorsports in the world since 1993 when he went to Indy Lights first and did well right away, and in CART, right away he was fighting for the wins, so it's been almost 15 years that he's been on the covers of the news all the time. It's something that we don't have that often in Mexico. It's been a soccer player and a couple of boxers that have had that. Hopefully a lot of you will come to Mexico City and see that for yourself. Adrian is huge and I think compared with a lot of the other big names in sports in the history of Mexico he's tried to be closer to the people and the media and he has kept himself in a good position. A lot of those other guys after five years, they go crazy."
HOW HARD WAS IT TO LEAVE THE OPEN-WHEEL RANKS? "It was hard in a sense because I had been there for a long, long time and have a lot of friends there and we were pretty established there, but I saw a huge opportunity to come up here because NASCAR is just so huge and growing so much and this race in Mexico, I thought it would be the best opportunity for my future."
DID YOU TALK TO JIMMY VASSER ABOUT THE SWITCH TO STOCK CARS, AND WHAT DID HE SAY? "Jimmy and pretty much everybody I talked to said that this was the way to go."
HAVE YOU GROWN ACCUSTOMED TO HAVING FENDERS ON THE CAR YET? "Of course, I knew coming in that it was going to be part of it. The banging and hitting each other, it's good and I like it and it's the same for everybody."
DO YOU LIKE DRIVING THE BIGGER FENDER STOCK CAR? "I like it a lot. It's a lot of fun and I've raced lots of different types of cars when I raced in Mexico, so I'm having a lot of fun. I do believe that this is more the way racing should be."
WHAT IS THE TOUGHEST PART ABOUT THE TRANSITION FROM OPEN WHEEL TO STOCK CARS? "'It's a lot. It's totally different the way it drives with how big the car is to understand how wide you can go and where the other cars are. The language also and the changes in setups, everything is just so different."
IS THERE ONE RACE TRACK IN PARTICULAR THAT YOU ARE LOOKING FORWARD TO GETTING TO THIS YEAR? "Of course, Mexico City. It's going to be really, really good for me to go back there, but also every race. I'm looking forward to every track."
DID YOU ASK FORD FOR ASSISTANCE TO DO THIS OR DID THEY CONTACT YOU? "A little bit of both. We both started a conversation a couple of years ago. I was interested and they were interested in bringing up a Mexican and I tested with ppc a couple of years ago.'
DAVID GREEN-27-Kleenex/Walgreen Ford Taurus
YOU WERE ABLE TO GO TO THE TRACK LAST MONTH FOR A MEDIA EVENT. WHAT IS THE ATMOSPHERE LIKE SURROUNDING THE RACE? "Being a guy from Kentucky, you don't get to travel out much, and I know back in the mid-90s we went to Suzuka, Japan, and that was interesting to go over there; NASCAR took very good care of us. This trip was no exception. I know that just with myself, and Michel was there, no race cars were on the race track, but it was absolutely fantastic from the time we landed. The folks with the race track and the whole city, even though there are 25 million people there, it was an absolutely first-class experience. Even I posed the question, 'Where are the bad spots? Where are the horror stories that we heard prior to coming here?' It's going to be very exciting. The fan base, even though there were no fans there, the media alone and the excitement level was out of the roof. I compare it to what we see here this week at Daytona for down there. The interesting thing that I saw that is going to be unique for not only Michel, but Adrian and Jorge (Goeters), my teammate, it's the same thing that I got to be a part of and Jeff Burton got to be a part of is that we would not be a part of the Busch Series nowadays if the NASCAR Busch Series didn't come to places like South Boston (Va.), Orange County (N.C.), Hickory (N.C.) and the Nashville Fairgrounds. What's happening here is these guys are getting the opportunity that we got years ago. If this would not have happened, they would not be a part of the NASCAR Busch Series. I just saw it as an excellent opportunity to race with some of the best drivers in the world, and we never would have had a chance to see a great new atmosphere of fans and media with 25 million people, you see all the sights and all takes. For our sponsors as well, just to be a part of another side of the world is very, very fun and exciting. I urge everyone to come down there because it's going to be a fun weekend."
DID YOU EVER EXPECT TO RACE IN MEXICO? "Like I said earlier, went the Busch Series came to the Nashville Fairgrounds and Myrtle Beach and places like that, I felt that we saw about the biggest and the best. I went to Japan, to Suzuka, and I thought that was the extent of things, and I know me personally that was the first time and probably the only time up to that time that we had the opportunity to go outside the country. Thanks to NASCAR it got to happen there at Suzuka. Now this deal has happened and I want to say that I never had even an urge to go to Mexico, even Cancun; I never did do that. So, when I flew in for that deal it was quite interesting to see the amount of people, and then when we landed to see the amount of enthusiasm, and there wasn't even a car on the race track. We were just talking about the IMAX movie and all of that. So, no, I never envisioned this happening, but I'm really excited that I got to experience it during my career. To get to race with guys like Adrian and my teammate Jorge, who is an excellent road racer and will be driving our 66 car down there, it's going to be a lot of fun. To spread the word with Ford and Kleenex to another part of the world is always fun for me off of the race tracks side of things."
THIS TRIP SHOULD BE EASIER IN TERMS OF TRAVEL. "That was the biggest headache about Japan was just the amount of time we were on that airplane. This trip here, it wasn't more than a west cost swing on an airplane. Once we landed, I have to applaud again, NASCAR and the race track and the people in Mexico City for surrounding us and putting their arms around us because they treated us like kings. Everybody will say that the drivers will be treated nicely, but I saw it from top to bottom so that makes me very excited. In the very beginning I'll have to say that along with myself, there were a lot of doubts about why we were doing this, but it quickly became evident that there is such a need for racing down there. Really, I'm quite proud to say the NASCAR Busch Series will be the series that will show these folks for the first time. There will be an impression made and I'm proud to say it's the Busch Series doing that, but also the Hispanic deal. A couple of years ago I ran the HRT, the Hispanic Racing Team car for six races and the excitement level there was tremendous. I had no full-time ride that year, but the following from the Hispanic fans was unbelievable. So now we look at that times 100 it seems like in Mexico City. It's going to be a lot of fun."
DO YOU THINK THE NEXTEL CUP DRIVERS WILL GARNER ALL OF THE SPOTLIGHT DOWN THERE? "I think that what we're going to see down there, those fans don't categorize the drivers like they do here in the States. You can walk through here at Daytona and most of us can walk through here going unnoticed, but any Cup driver comes through here and the world stops. I say that positively, but down there I think it's going to be even slate. Obviously, Adrian, Michel and Jorge, all of the Mexican drivers will get a certain amount, but as far as the Cup drivers we have participating, I think it's going to be Even Steven. Us Busch guys are going to flex our muscles a little bit and put on a big smile, and say, 'Finally we get the recognition we do deserve.'" DO YOU VIEW THIS AS A TEST TO SEE IF NASCAR RACING OUTSIDE THE U.S. IS VIABLE? "I think anything that we've seen NASCAR do in the last few years we can term it a test, but it's for real. We can term it a test, but I saw it down there in that media day. This is for real, and this race will be on the schedule for years to come, and the only thing I see happening is the trucks coming with us and the Cup guys coming with us. That's all good. That's good for the whole country because Kleenex has a big presence down there. I'm excited because all across the world people have the opportunity to drive Fords and they have the opportunity to use Kleenex. It's going there and targeting a market we've never seen before and see those fans we've never seen before and get to eat some food we've never seen before. It's a lot of fun."