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Cami Starr · Thursday March 2, 2006
Deciding on what to write about this week was pretty clear. With both the Cup Series and the Craftsman Truck Series off this weekend, all eyes are on the Busch boys as they make another trip south of the border. Without getting into the politics of American vs Foreign, there will be plenty of that as we move closer to Toyota getting on the track, I must say I’m looking forward to this weekend’s race. The biggest reason being that I’m not going into the race certain that this will be another race dominated by the big boys from the Cup series.
Last year the Mexican fans went wild when one of their own, Jorge Goeters, won the pole for the inaugural race. Goeters, who also ran in two other Busch Series races in 2005, led 24 laps last year before engine problems relegated him to a 38th place finish.
Perhaps the biggest story from last year came courtesy of Mexican favorite Adrian Fernandez. Driving for Hendrick Motorsports, Fernandez wowed the hometown crowd racing from 40th place to finish 10th. That strong performance earned him five more starts with the team, but he never came close to reproducing the same result he earned in Mexico.
Can one of these drivers steal a win this year? Carl Edwards seems to think so.
"Win? Absolutely they can win," said Edwards. "That’s why I’m so worried about [this race]."
So is Edwards just being politically correct? Or is there really a chance for someone other than a Cup driver to leave Mexico with more than just a bad case of indigestion? I think he’s right, we may not see the usual Buschwhacker walk away with the win this Sunday.
In last year’s race, only three Cup drivers placed in the top-10, which is a welcomed change from an average race weekend. Busch regulars Kenny Wallace and Ashton Lewis Jr. both appeared in the top-10 along with road course ace Boris Said.
While I wouldn’t want to see 36 road courses on the schedule, I like the change up. I like seeing a variety of drivers running well and the race not being about the team with the deepest pockets or the biggest engine program. Granted, those things are still important on road courses, but good old fashioned strategy and luck play just as big of role. Just ask last year’s race winner Martin Truex Jr. who put himself in position to drive away with the win after pitting as the yellow came out during the midpoint of the race.
After just one year it’s too early to say whether or not NASCAR’S experiment running in Mexico will turn out to be a success or not. But 100,000 fans at last year’s race is an impressive start. And if the results can continue to be a mix of big names, welcomed surprises and local favorites I think eventually the fans north of the border will be won over and look forward to this race every year.
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