NASCAR Busch Series Michel Jourdain, Jr., driver of the No. 15 Fusion in the Busch Series, will make his first start of 2006 this weekend at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City. Jourdain, who started 18th and finished 37th in the...
NASCAR Busch Series
Michel Jourdain, Jr., driver of the No. 15 Fusion in the Busch Series, will make his first start of 2006 this weekend at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City. Jourdain, who started 18th and finished 37th in the inaugural Telcel-Motorola 200, spoke about the upcoming event from his home in Mexico City. Pending sponsorship, Jourdain wants to run the remainder of the season, but he currently has a one-race deal with Roshfrans, a Mexican-based lubricant company, that will allow him to compete this weekend.
MICHEL JOURDAIN, JR.--15--Roshfrans Ford Fusion
THIS WEEKEND'S RACE IN MEXICO CITY WILL MARK YOUR FIRST BUSCH START OF THE SEASON. HOWEVER, SPONSORSHIP ISSUES HAVE FORCED YOU TO MISS THE FIRST TWO RACES OF THE SEASON. "It's great to be racing in Mexico. This should be my third race of the year, but right now it is what it is. Racing in Mexico is good. Last year we ran very competitive here and I hope that we can run a little bit better this year from what we learned last year. With the team (ppc Racing), we have to work three cars right now and John (Andretti) is a road racer, too, and he understands a lot about what it takes to win at road courses, so I hope that he brings a lot of experience to the team."
ARE YOU SURPRISED THAT IT HAS BEEN THIS DIFFICULT TO SECURE FULL-TIME SPONSORSHIP? "It's been so hard. We had people interested, but in the Mexico City race only, Mexican companies that didn't care about the other races, so ppc didn't want to sell just Mexico City because they felt it would hurt us from getting a full-year deal. Mexico City will always be a race with interest from people that want to sponsor us, but at the end, we couldn't secure anything for more races so we made a one-race deal. It's just been really, really difficult so far."
YOU RACED IN THE ROLEX 24 IN FEBRUARY, BUT YOU HAVEN'T BEEN IN A BUSCH CAR SINCE YOU TRIED TO QUALIFY FOR THE RACE AT CHICAGOLAND LAST YEAR. HOW LONG DO YOU THINK IT WILL TAKE TO READAPT TO DRIVING A BUSCH CAR? "I think I should be able to pick it up pretty quick. Last year, I never tested at a road course and Friday's first practice was my first time on a road course in a Busch car and we were fast right away, so I think I have enough experience at the track and in racing cars that I think I can get back up to speed pretty quick."
YOU HAVE BEEN BACK IN MEXICO CITY FOR MOST OF THE WINTER. HAS THE UPCOMING RACE CREATED A BUZZ IN THE CITY? "Everybody knows that he race is coming back. It's the biggest race in Mexico as far as Mexican drivers being in one race. It's just fantastic that so many Mexican drivers are running and have a chance to win the race. You can always see in the media, in the papers on TV, they're talking about the race this weekend."
HOW IMPORTANT IS IT FOR YOU TO RACE THIS WEEKEND IN FRONT OF THE HOME CROWD? "I've been racing now almost 10 years now outside of Mexico, and in Champ Car we started coming to Monterrey and that was the highlight of the year. The opportunity to race in front of family and friends and Mexican sponsors is just fantastic. I just couldn't miss that this year."
HOW MUCH FOCUS DO YOU PUT ON BEATING THE OTHER MEXICAN DRIVERS ENTERED IN THE RACE, AND IS THERE A FRIENDLY RIVALRY BETWEEN THE MEXICAN DRIVERS ENTERED? "There is, and I think we get similar attention. Adrian (Fernandez) has raced a little bit longer than myself outside of Mexico, but we've both been doing it for a long, long time now and both with similar success. To me, I'm very used to that and that comparison. To me, the way I see it, the only way that I'm sure to beat the other Mexican drivers is to beat everybody. If I thought about just beating the Mexican drivers, or if it was the most important thing, that's not what racing is about for me. If there are eight other Mexican drivers and I'm 35th and they're behind me, I wouldn't be happy; it would be a terrible day. My point, Adrian is Mexican and Carlos (Contreras) and Jorge (Goeters), but when I'm out in the track I just try to beat everybody and then I can secure beating the Mexicans and everybody else."
WITH THIS WEEKEND'S BUSCH RACE BEING HELD ON SUNDAY AND TELEVISED ON FOX, DO YOU FEEL THAT GOOD RUN THIS WEEKEND CAN HELP YOUR SPONSORSHIP SEARCH? "I hope so. I really hope so. I'm sure that we're going to do really well. In the race, certain things have to go your way, and I think especially in road course racing with these cars. The way the rules are with the yellows, and if things go a little bit our way, I think we've got a shot at winning this race. I hope that helps for the future."
Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 60 Fusion, took part in a NASCAR media tour of Mexico City prior to this weekend's Telcel-Motorola 200. Edwards, who finished third in the inaugural event, had a memorable moment in practice last year when he crashed his car into one of the track's temporary barriers on the straightaway and was forced to seek medical attention prior to the event. Edwards spoke about returning to Mexico City and his experience last year.
CARL EDWARDS--60--Ameriquest Ford Fusion
IS THERE A LEVEL OF EXCITEMENT TO GO BACK TO MEXICO CITY AGAIN THIS YEAR? "Everybody is so cool in Mexico. All of the fans are really nice, and the Mexican drivers are great. To me, and I'm sure a lot of the drivers feel this way, but it's so cool to go somewhere that far away and race and have people interested in it."
YOU TOOK TIME OUT OF YOUR SCHEDULE TO TAKE PART IN AN ADVANCE MEDIA TOUR IN MEXICO CITY FOLLOWING THE LAS VEGAS BUSCH SERIES TEST. DO YOU TAKE SPECIAL INTEREST IN THIS EVENT? "Personally, I've always been real fascinated with how big the world is and how many different cultures there are. It was cool for me just to drive from the media day to the airport. We drove for about an hour outside of town, and just to see the whole different way of life, it's whole different country with a different history; it's great."
WITH THE SUCCESS YOU HAD IN MEXICO CITY LAST YEAR, AND YOUR OVERALL NASCAR SUCCESS LAST SEASON, DID THE FANS AND MEDIA RECOGNIZE YOU WHEN YOU RETUNED THIS YEAR? "I don't know if more people recognized me. Not really, not yet. Maybe when we go back after all of the media we did it will be like that, but it was pretty cool because I don't know if people knew who I really was, but they seemed interested in hearing us talk about the race in their city."
YOU WENT TO THE TRACK DURING THE MEDIA TOUR. HAVE THERE BEEN ANY CHANGES TO THE TRACK IN TERMS OF DESIGN AND SAFETY? "I think it's going to be good. I don't think they changed it much. They're going to run the chicane and I think they're going to have fluorescent highways markers so you can see where the chicane is from inside the car. That was the worst-case scenario -- closing in on a car and they didn't go through the chicane and I couldn't see the curbs. With my incident, I was planning on following them and then they turned off in the last second, so I couldn't see the curb until it was too late and hit it and wrecked, but I think that was the worst-case scenario. If I was being a little more cautious I wouldn't have wrecked if the curb was visible with markers of some sort that stood above the level of car's decklid; I would have been to see it. They told me that was a possibility and I told them that would be a great thing to do."
YOU TOOK A HARD HIT INTO THE TEMPORARY WALL. DO YOU FEEL IT DID ITS JOB? "I felt terrible. I got sick and it was bad, but I think the barrier they had did a great job. I looked at it, and it broke in half and moved a few feet. If that had been a solid barrier, it would have been a really hard hit. If that would have been a dug-in, concrete wall, that would have been bad."
LAST YEAR WAS THE INAUGURAL RACE IN MEXICO, AND TEAMS AND DRIVERS APPROACHED IT WITH TREPIDATION. WILL YOU FEEL MORE SECURE THIS YEAR BASED OFF OF YOUR EXPERIENCE LAST YEAR? "I've told the story after that wreck last year, the ambulance pulled up and it was Mexican folks, and I couldn't quite understand what they were saying and I was nervous, but that night I ended up going to the hospital. I went to the hospital in downtown Mexico City, and it was one of the best experiences I've ever had at a hospital. Everybody was so cool, and I didn't see anything other than what you would see at any big city. I went to the Anthropology Museum down the street from the hotel and walked around down there. To me, it's a great city and I'm sure it has its bad side, but every big city does."