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International intrigue: Mexico 200 preview

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Larry McReynolds

Larry McReynolds has more than 30 years of NASCAR experience as a mechanic, Daytona 500-winning crew chief and broadcaster. He earned 23 Sprint Cup wins as a crew chief, including two victories in the prestigious Daytona 500, as well as a pair of non-points victories in the annual all-star race. Follow him on Twitter.

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With a weekend off, Nextel Cup drivers like Rusty Wallace, Elliott Sadler and Jamie McMurray are headed to Mexico City for Busch Series' first point race outside the United States (Sunday, 3 p.m. ET, FOX). It's a road race, and the Busch Series hasn't been on a road course since Watkins Glen was dropped from the schedule after the 2001 season. There's going to be a lot of drama throughout the entire weekend because no one on the entry list has tested or raced at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in a Busch car. The only NASCAR driver that tested there was Jeff Burton, and NASCAR made sure Burton wasn't entering the race before he went down there. The sanctioning body had to send someone to give setup feedback and transmission ratios to the teams and Goodyear for the tires so Richard Childress offered up one of his cars. The Cup Series had a similar situation from 1996-98 with exhibition races in Japan. In 1996, we went to Suzuka, a road course, for an exhibition race. I was Ernie Irvan's crew chief on the 28 car. Dale Earnhardt and Rusty Wallace went over and tested before the event, and we used their feedback to develop a setup. But we felt like you were going in blind because we had never seen that track or worked on a car to race there.

Who to Watch

  • Ron Fellows and Boris Said: These veteran road racers are going to be tough. They're going to be in good race cars, and when you put them in good equipment, they will excel at any road course.
  • Adrian Fernandez: I talked to Jim Long, the crew chief of the No. 5 Hendrick Busch car, and he was very excited and optimistic after testing with Fernandez at Virginia International Raceway. He said it didn't take many laps for the open-wheel veteran to figure out the Busch car.
  • Mexican drivers: I'm most concerned about drivers that have never been in a good stock car. They may not be used to the horsepower and the weight of these cars. While they may know the track, it will be different in this type of car so they will have their work cut out for them.
  • What to Watch

    Speed Mail Larry McReynolds
  • Sunday's race, 3 p.m. ET on FOX: Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez is a typical road course. It's going to be very hard to pass, and pit strategy and pit stops will probably play a huge role in the outcome of the race. Even though the track has some very long and fast straightaways, aero won't be a huge issue. Horsepower will play a big role on those straightaways, but like Daytona, the guy who goes to Victory Lane will tell you how good his car handles. Brakes are also very important. Jeff Burton said he didn't use a lot of brake when he tested there, but he was by himself. When you're out there with 42 other cars entering the corner at different speeds, the drivers will use a ton of brake. as they do at all road courses.
  • History in the racing

    Going to Mexico City reminds me of that first trip to Japan in 1996 so I'm excited. The NASCAR contingent is scheduled to have dinner at the American embassy on Saturday night, and I'm tickled to death that we're going to be part of history because this is the first time the Busch Series has traveled internationally to run an event. I'm glad we can bring it back to America on FOX.


    FOX race analyst Larry McReynolds has more than 25 years of NASCAR experience as a mechanic, crew chief and broadcaster. He and his fellow Crew Chief Club members take you behind the wall at www.crewchiefclub.com.

    "Larry McReynolds: The Big Picture" is on bookstore shelves now, or you may order your own autographed copy from www.DWStore.com.

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