NASCAR

Goeters, NASCAR make history in Mexico

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Jeff Hammond

Jeff Hammond is a former NASCAR crew chief who led Darrell Waltrip to two of his three Sprint Cup championships. The duo also teamed up to win the 1989 Daytona 500. Prior to that, Hammond was the jackman for Cale Yarborough for all three of his Cup championships. He has 43 Sprint Cup wins as a crew chief. Follow him on Twitter.

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Coming to the start/finish line with the fastest lap in Busch Series qualifying, Mexico's Jorge Goeters heard all of his countrymen and countrywomen cheering for him. Then he felt his fellow Mexican drivers and NASCAR veterans beat on his car, congratulating him for winning the pole in his first Busch race. I was fortunate enough to interview him for SPEED Channel when he got out of his car, and he said, "It's very, very exciting. It's in my country, and it's the best day of my life."
He was shaking and trembling as he tried to catch his breath. The adrenaline going through his veins must have been incredible. His father had tears running down his face. He was so happy and proud of his son, who says this is just the start. "This is amazing for me and for Mexico and the people in my country," Goeters said. "It's my first time in the Busch Series. I think this is the beginning, and I want to be there." Goeters made history as only the seventh driver in Busch Series history to win a pole in his first start, but he had the added bonus of doing it in his home country. NASCAR is making history with the first Busch points race outside of the United States. It may not be a Nextel Cup point race, but it does have several Nextel Cup drivers and an Indianapolis 500-sized crowd. Over the past year, I've spent some time hunting in south Texas, and I scratched my head, wondering why we were going to Mexico. But the folks down there quickly pointed out that the Latino community loves racing. I saw race fans wearing hats, jackets and t-shirts. I know we've got a strong following in Canada so between the Canadians and the folks in Mexico, it's awesome to see our sport growing across the borders.

Who to Watch

  • Adrian Fernandez: The open-wheel driver ran a Busch car at Virginia International Raceway to get acclimated to the weight difference and braking in the cumbersome stock car compared to what he's used to racing. He adapted very quickly and was very quick in the car. The 5 team was very excited about what he's going to do in Sunday's race. When you take a powerhouse team like Hendrick and put a top-notch driver like Fernandez behind the wheel, you expect good results.
  • Road ringers: Like Fernandez, Ron Fellows and Boris Said have a lot of road racing experience. Their adaptability is so crucial. If we get down there and have any kind of rain delays that take away practice time, all of the sudden, Fernandez's track knowledge and Fellows' and Said's adaptability could be as importantas having the fastest race car.
  • What to Watch

  • Playing games: When Watkins Glen (1986) and Sonoma (1989) showed up on the Cup circuit, drivers weren't familiar with road courses, which was a huge hurdle for the race teams. If Atari, EA or Nintendo had a Mexico City game, I would tell my driver to get on that son of a gun and know it like the back of his hand. A lot of guys play video games before Sonoma and Watkins Glen to familiarize themselves with the blind corners and where they need to turn before they get there. Good road racers know where the breaking points and turning areas are. If teams have problems this weekend, they usually start with the driver as he searches for a comfort level.
  • Building the perfect car: Crew chiefs will get all the information they can about the racetrack, including elevation changes and radius and width of the corners so they can select a shifter package, gear ratios are concerned and setup. They need to build cars that are good enough for the driver to learn the track quickly so he can provide feedback to make the car better.

  • FOX race analyst Jeff Hammond led Darrell Waltrip to two of DW's three Winston Cup championships as his crew chief. They also teamed to win the 1989 Daytona 500.

    For autographed copies of Jeff Hammond's new book "Real Men Work in the Pits" plus magnets, hats and more, check out www.dwstore.com.

    For photos and appearances, visit Jeff's web site www.jeffhammond.com.

    More Stories From Jeff Hammond



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