Press Snoop: And then there were nine...
3 March 2006
The weather was beautiful, warm and sunny on Wednesday at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez as the two Daytona Beach-based racing series arrived in Mexico City.
The Grand American Racing Association sportscar transporters convoyed into the track and spent the day setting up in preparation for its first day of practice on Thursday at the Mexican road racing circuit. NASCAR, meanwhile, had support vehicles but no Busch Series team haulers yet. That comes Thursday. All things in due time.
The Grand-Am Rolex Series is running a different track configuration this year. The run through the stadium has been eliminated and the course now includes the famed Peraltada. This means new track records. Busch is running the same course it ran last year, with a chicane on the long front straight. The Grand-Am course is 2.5-miles, and the Busch course is 2.518-miles.
NASCAR has the most cosmopolitan entry list in the 25-year history of the Busch Series. There are now eight Mexican drivers, two Canadians and a Belgian among the 47 entries for the 43-car field.
On Wednesday, another Mexican driver was added to the list. PATRICK GOETERS of San Luis Potosi will drive the #58 Glynn Motorsports Chevrolet in place of DONNIE NEUENBERGER. Patrick is the second Goeters to enter the Mexico City round of the Busch Series. His brother, JORGE - last year's polesitter - is also entered, driving Brewco's #66 Scotiabank Inverlet Ford owned by CLARENCE BREWER. Jorge wants to form a team with a third brother, EDUARDO, who is also a racer. There are four Goeters racing brothers.
Another Mexican Busch driver this weekend has already formed a team. CARLOS CONTRERAS, who drove in 70 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series races, joined with ARMANDO FITZ, to form a team to run 14 Desafio Corona stock car races this season in Mexico. Fitz is the owner running Contreras in #14 Goulds Pumps Dodge this weekend.
ADRIAN FERNANDEZ, an icon in Mexican sports, not just motorsports, is running both Grand-Am and Busch this weekend. In Busch, he's again driving for RICK HENDRICK in the #57 Lowe's Chevrolet. In Grand-Am, Fernandez is running his own team and co-driving with MARIO HABERFELD of Brazil in the #12 Lowe's Fernandez Racing Pontiac Riley Daytona Prototype.
MICHEL JOURDAIN Jr (#15 Roshfrans Oil Ford) is running for JILL BURGDOFF this weekend. Last year, Jourdain Jr ran 20 Busch Series races.
CARLOS PARDO of Mexico City, the 2004 Desafio Corona champion, is adding Busch to his stock car resume. Pardo is running the #34 Telcel Chevrolet for FRANK CICI. Pardo previously ran two NASCAR Busch North races.
JIMMY MORALES (#68 Telmex Dodge) ran the Grand-Am Rolex Series with CHIP GANASSI two seasons back, co-driving with LUIS DIAZ. Morales is no longer racing sportscars, but he will be racing Busch. Diaz still races the Rolex Series with SCOTT PRUETT in the #01 CompUSA Lexus Riley Daytona Prototype. Diaz, or 'Chapulin' [Grasshopper] as he is affectionately known in Mexico, is the only Mexican Grand-Am driver this weekend.
ROGELLO LOPEZ (#67 Telmex Chevrolet) is running his first Busch race, racing for TOM ERIKSEN.
MARC GOOSSENS of Belgium comes a long way to make his NASCAR debut. Except for one test with ROBERT YATES at Sebring, he has never been in a stock car. Goossens will also run the Watkins Glen road race, all part of a programme joining RYR and Rolex team Riley Technologies. Other drivers this season in the #90 CITI Financial Ford include ELLIOT SADLER in 16 races, STEPHEN LEICHT and MATT McCALL in 17 races.
Goossens' experience dates back to 1985 when he ran karts for three years. He ran Formula Fords for two years, winning 16 races including the 1991 Formula Ford Festival. The next four years Goossens ran F3 and F3000, with a F3 victory in 1995. During the open-wheel racing, he also ran GT in Europe, winning the Zolder 24-Hour GT race. Goossens has run American Le Mans for five years, competed in eight 24 Hours of Le Mans races, and the 2004 Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona with the Doran-Lista Riley team.
Canada has two veteran road racers in the Busch race. RON FELLOWS (#33 Kevin Harvick Inc Chevrolet) is no stranger to the Busch Series. He often runs the road courses in NASCAR and he has won three Watkins Glen Busch races. Last year, he ran strong in Mexico before an accident ended his day prematurely. PAUL TRACY (#4 Geico Dodge) is running his second-ever Busch race. He ran the Daytona Speedweeks race in the #34 Sports Clips Chevrolet, starting 37th and finishing 24th, on the lead lap. Tracy is replacing MARK GREEN this weekend on the road course he's raced since 2002 when CART/Champ Car World Series first added Mexico City in its schedule. Tracy won the 2003 CART race, Jourdain Jr was fourth and Fernandez was eighth on the circuit named for Mexico's most famous racers, the Rodriguez brothers PEDRO and RICARDO.
Four drivers, all Mexican, will have to qualify on time because the team owner is out of the points, that is not in the top thirty. They are Fernandez, Jourdain Jr, Lopez, and Morales.
The Goeters aren't the only brothers racing in the Busch race. Three Sauters are competing - JAY, JOHNNY and TIM. Jay and Tim are new to the Mexican circuit. Jay, driving #01 Western Union Chevrolet, is running 'selected' races this season. Brothers Johnny (#00 Yellow Transportation Chevrolet) and Tim (#36 Lester Building Systems) are running the full season.
There are five rookies listed for the Autodromo round - TODD KLUEVER (#06 3M Ford) for JACK ROUSH; JOEL KAUFFMAN (#12 Take Me On Vacation Dodge); CHRIS WIMMER (#23 Keith Coleman Racing Chevrolet); DANNY O'QUINN (#50 World Financial Group Ford) and JOHN ANDRETTI (#10 Freedom Roads Ford). I'm not sure how Andretti was put in the rookie category, after all his starts in Winston Cup. And I'm guessing Goossens isn't a rookie because he is only slated for two races....