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MEXICO CITY, Mex.—Kyle Busch caught and passed Scott Pruett nine laps from the finish to win Sunday’s NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Mexico City.
It was the third consecutive Nationwide Series win for Busch.
Probably the biggest story of the race was the second-place finish of Marcus Ambrose—the highest career finish for the Australian native.
Ambrose had to go to the rear of the 43-car field twice: first, at the start of the 80-lap race because his crew changed a clutch after qualifying, and again for a pit road violation.
“We just had a tough one today,” Ambrose said. “In another couple of laps, I sure would have gotten Kyle."
Polesitter Colin Braun finished 33rd.
Scott Pruett, Carl Edwards, Patrick Carpentier, Clint Bowyer, Scott Wimmer, Brad Keselowski, Mike Bliss, and Steve Wallace rounded out the top-10 finishers.
Top-10 Nationwide Series leaders after 9 of 35: 1. Bowyer-1339, 2. Edwards-1330, 3. Kyle Busch-1273, 4. Reutimann-1192, 5. Ragan-1165, 6. Keselowski-1153, 7. Bliss-1136, 8. Leffler-1062, 9. M. Wallace-1036, 10. Bires-1008
DAVID PEARSON DOESN’T
PULL ANY PUNCHES
David Pearson and Carl Edwards put on a driving exhibition last week at Darlington Raceway. Pearson was in the No. 21 Wood Bros. 1971 Mercury, while Edwards drove his current No. 99 Roush Fenway Ford.
The occasion was a filming by ESPN to be aired on NASCAR Now’s. Nicole Manske was the commentator, and she had her hands full with Pearson.
By the end of the day, the publicity tour was almost done. Edwards and Pearson had one more duty, and that was appearing side-by-side. Some polite questions were asked by Manske, and the videotape of the two cars rolling around the racetrack was played. Everything was going well until Pearson decided to start answering questions “old school” style.
Manske asked Pearson if he liked where NASCAR had gone in the past four decades. Pearson pointed at Edwards and said, “I don’t, but he might.” In the world of the polite and polished NASCAR drivers, things were about to get interesting.
“NASCAR ain't doing nothing I like right now,” Pearson said. “I don't like the rules they are doing. You can bump somebody, and they want to fine you for it.”
Pearson saw the look on Carl Edwards’ face and made sure to say he knew that Edwards could not speak up or he would get fined.
Manske asked Pearson what he thought of Edwards. “He's a lot nicer than I thought he was, if you want to know the truth,” Pearson said.
Manske closed by asking Pearson about the current drivers. Pearson made a great point in saying, “They make a lot more money than we did, but they don’t have time to spend it.” Pearson's point was that in the old days, NASCAR drivers had a lot of “fun” in addition to the racing.
Pearson closed by saying NASCAR today is far too serious and has far too much politics in it. His open-collared shirt and chewing gum was in sharp contrast to the perfect driver suit and physically fit appearance of Edwards. Nothing more needed to be said about “then” and “now.”
Pearson won 10 races and 12 poles—both records—at the old track. Pearson, 73, retired in 1986 after 105 victories and three Cup championships.
Leonard Wood, the crew chief for Pearson during his glory years, restored the 1971 Wood Brothers Mercury that Pearson drove to several of his Darlington wins, and Wood also was on hand Wednesday as the historic No. 21 maroon-and-white car hit the racing surface again.
The car has been in a museum adjacent to the track for more than 30 years. Wood agreed to work on the car so that it could be run on the track once more—at least for Wednesday’s exhibition.
Pearson and Edwards didn’t “race” during the run, but they traded the lead several times. Edwards was in front when the checkered flag fell, although Pearson joked later that he didn’t know it was the last lap and he would have tried a little harder if he had been prepared.
“I was trying to help Carl out,” Pearson said. “He had asked me about the line I ran around the track, and I was showing him.”
The cars turned speeds of 120 miles per hour. Pearson said he could have gone much faster, but he was afraid the 35 year-old tires on his car might blow out.
(Harlow Reynolds of Lynchburg, Va., contributed to this story.)
PETTY RACING IS
AT A CROSSROADS
With 200 wins and seven championships in NASCAR Sprint Cup competition, Richard Petty is firmly woven into the fabric of Americana as a true icon.
The entire Petty family is noted for its generous giving of time and energy in support of others. The Pettys are at the top of the charts when it comes to giving and helping. They shun alcohol, and I have never heard any negative rumors about their personal lives.
The problem they face isn’t about honesty, morals or generosity. It’s about winning races.
The last Petty victory came in 1999 with driver John Andretti. Since 1983, when Richard won his last race, Petty Racing has only three wins. Note: Kyle Petty’s last win came at Dover in 1995, but he was driving for Felix Sabates.
Rarely do teams survive as long as Petty has without fielding a winning team. Morgan McClure Motorsports won three Daytona 500s, but they lost their sponsor because of poor performance on the track.
Petty will be losing General Mills, one of its major sponsors, next season to Richard Childress Racing.
As the big sponsors move to other teams, there is going to be a lack of money to compete against the other top teams.
There are teams in the Cup series that are paid more than $20 million by their major sponsor. Toss in some associate sponsors, and they have an operating budget of more than $25 million.
Hendrick, Roush and Childress Racing organizations do have teams with that kind of budget.
How can a $10-million team compete against one of the mega-teams? You do the math. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what’s going to happen.
Now, we don’t think Petty Racing is going to fall off the face of the earth, because the organization has several other means of bringing in money, including the Richard Petty Driving Schools. Unless their two Cup teams, the No. 43 and No. 45, are able to improve on track performance, more and more sponsors are going to be switching to other teams.
NASCAR and the fans need the Pettys, but racing is still about winning. You’ve got to win to stay in the sport.
Nationwide Series going to new car of tomorrow.
The Craftsman Trucks race at the one-and-a-half mile Kansas Speedway. The Nationwide and Cup teams are at NASCAR’s longest track, the 2.66-mile Talladega Superspeedway.
Sat., Apr. 26, Craftsman Trucks O’Reilly Auto Parts 250; Starting time: 5:30 p.m. (EST); TV: Speed.
Sat., Apr. 26, Nationwide Series Aaron’s 312; Starting time: 2:30 p.m. (EST); TV: ABC.
Sun., Apr. 27, Sprint Cup Aaron’s 499; Starting time: 1:30 p.m. (EST); TV: Fox.
Racing Trivia Question: What was Harry Gant’s nickname?
Last Week’s Question: Which team does Alan Gustafson crew chief for? He is the crew chief on the No. 5 Hendrick Chevrolet driven by Casey Mears.
Gerald Hodges is a Beacon correspondent. You may contact the Racing Reporter at: firstname.lastname@example.org.