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Friday, April 18, 2008

South of the Border

While the Cup series takes a week off, the Nationwide drivers head down Mexico way this weekend to the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez for a road course event.

I am very excited about this event for several reasons. First of all, unlike many NASCAR fans, I love road course racing. These events are always a joy to watch, as they are demonstrations of pure driving skill, not just strong cars. When you talk about the best drivers, you can’t include anyone in the discussion who doesn’t have some success at road courses, as that is one element of a complete driver.

Also, the Corona Mexico 200 is not your usually Cup Jr. race masquerading as a Nationwide event. Most of the usually Cup suspects are skipping this one, and the entry list is highlighted by exciting road course specialists such as Scott Pruett, Boris Said, Michael Jordain Jr. and Max Papis, among others. Lately, any time I can watch this series and actually be able to distinguish it from the Cup series without looking at the TV listings, I get excited.

And the action should be great. Last year, Juan Pablo Montoya knocked his own teammate, Pruett, out of the way to take his first victory in a NASCAR series. Who knows what this year will bring? I recommend you tune in Sunday to find out. Those who would write road course racing off as boring should give it another shot, and this is a good race to do that.

Open-wheel weekend:
Open-wheel has a double dose of events to feed your racing addiction this weekend. As part of the unification, organizers decided to leave one final Champ Car World Series event in, at the road course in Long Beach, and it happened to fall on the same weekend as an Indy Racing League event on an oval in Japan. So you can see more than the usual share of open-wheel action this weekend, should you get the urge. Though it won’t come close to competing in ratings with NASCAR anytime soon, the IRL offers some of the best racing you’ll see, with some great finishes and lots of passing for the lead. And while the only names most people know are Danica Patrick and Helio Castroneves, there are lots of talented drivers in the series.


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