This Week in Ford Racing March 1, 2005 NASCAR Busch Series The NASCAR Busch Series is scheduled to have its first event south of the border this weekend with the Telcel-Motorola Mexico 200 at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City.
This Week in Ford Racing
March 1, 2005
NASCAR Busch Series
The NASCAR Busch Series is scheduled to have its first event south of the border this weekend with the Telcel-Motorola Mexico 200 at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City. ppc Racing teammates Michel Jourdain, Jr., and Kenny Wallace, both whom have international racing experience, shared their thoughts on the upcoming race. Wallace participated in the two previous NASCAR races held outside the U.S. borders, competing in both events in Japan. Also of note, Jourdain's wife, Nora, gave birth to their first child, Michel Jourdain Chedraui, on Sunday, February 20th in Mexico City.
MICHEL JOURDAIN, JR.-No. 10-Telcel Ford Taurus
YOU GO INTO THIS WEEKEND'S RACE IN MEXICO CITY WITH MORE KNOWLEDGE OF THE TRACK THAN MOST OF YOUR COMPETITORS. IS THIS A WEEKEND WHERE YOUR TEAMMATE, KENNY WALLACE, WILL HAVE TO RELY MORE YOU? "In some ways, I think. The only thing I can probably help him with is the track. I know the track very good. I've done a million laps there. But I've never driven one of these cars on a road course. I didn't test to know, so I think that part is going to be hard for me and I'm still going to be relying on him."
YOUR WIFE GAVE BIRTH LAST WEEK, AND NOW YOU'RE PREPARING FOR YOUR BIGGEST RACE OF THE YEAR. TALK ABOUT THE HOW STRESSFUL THE START OF THE SEASON HAS BEEN FOR YOU. "It's been very emotional in every way the last three months, with her pregnancy, with making my decision about coming to NASCAR, and then being away for so long. I didn't know if I was going to be there for the birth of our baby, with the start of the season, and then qualifying and making the race at Daytona and having a good race there. It was very stressful, and it was the same in Fontana. Making it back for the birth was fantastic, but then I had to leave right away to go to Fontana and I came back for a day and then left again for an appearance. And, this week is just crazy. When I go back it's nonstop with media and interviews and all of that. Of course, I want to be with my wife and my baby, and to me family is always number one, but this is my job and I have to do it. I had that conversation with her and she understands very good. In most jobs, if you have a son and if you have a meeting you can change it for a couple of hours or a day, but here they're not going to change the races for me. It's just the way it is, and I'm just trying to be as committed and concentrated for everything. When I'm doing media interviews or something I try to think about that, and when I'm driving my car I try to focus on that, and I try to enjoy every second I get with my wife and my son, so that's the way that I'm trying to deal with it."
WE ARE ONLY TWO RACES INTO THE SEASON, BUT DO YOU FEEL YOU MADE THE RIGHT DECISION TO LEAVE OPEN-WHEEL RACING FOR NASCAR? "Absolutely. There's absolutely no doubt in my mind that I made the right decision. Still, of course, I want to get better results and perform better. I think I was doing OK as far as the beginning of my NASCAR career, but I have no doubt in my mind. I'm having a lot of fun and people have been great to me, and I'm really looking forward to the next weekend every time. To me, that's very important. The birth of my baby and getting married are the best two things in my life, but I'm looking forward to going racing. To me, it's pretty incredible that I'm going through this moment in my life, and I'm enjoying racing more than ever and I'm looking forward to getting in the car and working with my team."
DO YOU FEEL THAT THIS WEEKEND MIGHT BE YOUR BEST SHOT TO WIN A NASCAR RACE THIS SEASON? "I don't know because I haven't driven a car on a short oval. I might be very competitive on a short oval and we're going to have more of those. Right now, for sure, I'll feel more comfortable, but I have such an open mind; I felt very good at Daytona. I think with a little bit more experience, and I think the team can still give me better race cars, I'm going to learn a lot through the year and I feel that there's a chance I can be really competitive at the end of the year. It's not easy because everybody is so competitive and there are a lot of really good drivers. I don't have any expectations for results. I feel motivated for the year and I feel I'll be able to do good at many of the tracks."
DO YOU FEEL MORE PRESSURE THIS WEEKEND, OR HAS YOUR FAMILIARITY WITH THE RACE TRACK EASED YOUR MIND? "There are still eight Mexican drivers that know the track as well as I do. All of them have more experience than me in these types of cars. Even Adrian (Fernandez) has already tested, and I've never driven one of these cars on a road course, and all of these Mexican drivers have been racing these types of cars for the last couple of years. A lot of Cup guys are going down there, and guys like Boris Said, who is a road-course specialist, so it's going to be as hard or even harder to make the race. But, I think I can do it. I feel comfortable with the track and I'm sure the guys feel good about the car we're bringing down, so I feel good about it. I went to Sears Point one year to watch the Cup race and anything can happen, so I don't see why I won't adapt to the car quickly. We have a little bit more practice than normal for this week, so I feel good about that."
KENNY WALLACE-No. 22-Stacker 2 Ford Taurus
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT RACING THIS WEEKEND IN MEXICO? "I'm really excited to go there, to go to Mexico City to race, but what I'm not excited about is the negativity that everybody keeps preaching. That kind of takes the excitement out of it. Besides all of that, I'm jacked up and ready to go. Right now I have a DVD of the race track that NASCAR provided us, and I've got it on my laptop and I'm running as many laps as I can. From that standpoint, we're all excited and ready to go. It would be nice to go down there and feel a little more comfortable like we could go out and eat where we want to eat, but we're quarantined. NASCAR is going to serve us three meals a day, and if that's what we have to do to make sure it all goes over good, that's okay."
ARE YOU SURPRISED BY THE STAR POWER THIS EVENT IS DRAWING? "No. The reason I'm not surprised by it is because everyone wants to make history. One great thing is that me, Rusty and Mike have all raced in Japan. I raced the Suzuka circuit and I raced in Motegi, and this is just another feather in everybody's cap. Most people that are racers want to go to Mexico City just so they can say they raced in Mexico City. Rusty loves road racing and I think his drivers are good racers, but I think in his last year he feels that it would be something fun to do."
LOGISTICALLY SPEAKING, THIS HAS TO BE AN EASIER TRIP THAN WAS JAPAN? "Japan was 15 straight hours in an airplane. The first time I went to Japan it was a lot of fun. We toured everything and we saw everything they had. The second time it was like, 'OK this isn't any fun anymore.' Mexico is just like going to Texas travel-wise, it's just a different environment."
WILL YOU USE MICHEL JOURDAIN THIS WEEKEND TO HELP YOU GET ACCLIMATED TO THE TRACK? "Most definitely. One thing I need to make perfectly clear is that I look up to Michel. Michel is an accomplished race-car driver. He's a great person and he means well, and verbally I've told Michel everything I know. I told him that I'm going to count on him in Mexico City and he told me, 'I will tell you everywhere I go.' I can tell you we will not drive that race track like they do in a Champ Car; the line is not the same in stock cars. I'll be looking for a lot of things from him."
GOODYEAR IS BRINGING DOWN RAIN TIRES IN CASE OF INCLEMENT WEATHER. IS RACING IN RAIN A CONCERN? "I was lucky to run a couple of times in the rain. I qualified in the rain in Japan and I practiced in the rain at Watkins Glen. Those tires have a lot more grip than people think. I think the thing of it is, our race team, we don't do those types of things. I think if it's pouring, the last thing NASCAR wants to do is race in the rain. But, I think they like the excitement. I think they'd like to see us practice in the rain and maybe qualify in the rain, but racing would be totally out of the question because it's something we don't know how to do. We would look stupid out there. We'd be wrecking. If it was a small drizzle it would be fun, but as far as torrential downpours, there's no way."