Mexico Lauds Hometown Hero; Goeters Becomes First Mexican to Win Pole in NASCAR History

Article excerpt

Byline: DON COBLE, The Times-Union

MEXICO CITY -- It took 15 minutes for Jorge Goeters to fight through the Mexican reporters and a few more minutes to fight through the tears before he jumped on one of the concrete walls along pit road. He was just 2 feet off the ground, but it seemed like the top of the world in a moment that forever will be etched into Mexico's sports history.

The one-time tractor-trailer truck racing champion of Mexico waved both arms as 50,000 countrymen screamed in delirious approval. In a matter of 87.696 seconds -- the time it took him to make one lap around the historic Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez road course -- Goeters went from being a race car driver from Mexico to a national celebrity.

His makeshift podium was better than any of the scheduled ceremonies planned for the pole winner for today's Telcel-Motorola 200 for the NASCAR Busch Series because it came without being prompted by a promoter or sponsor. It came out of love for racing and for a greater love of Mexico.

"I've never been like this," Goeters said. "It's perfect for here in Mexico."

Goeters, who lives here in the world's most populous city, became the first Mexican racer to win a pole position in NASCAR history. By the time today's race starts (3 p.m., Fox), more than 100,000 fans are expected in an event that has become much more than a stock car race.

"This is for everybody in Mexico," he said.

Fans waved Mexican flags and cheered wildly every time one of their drivers tried to qualify for today's race. Many expected Adrian Fernandez, the former Indy-car driver, to contend for the pole because he had the fastest lap in practice on Friday. But his Chevrolet spun off course during his lap and crashed, casting a pall throughout the massive 2.867-mile road course that seemed every bit as deafening as Goeters' unexpected run of 103. …

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