tampabay.com

Wood fastest across the border

By wire services
Published March 4, 2006


MEXICO CITY - Jon Wood mastered the tricky track in Mexico in a hurry Friday, finishing first during a surprisingly crash-free practice for Sunday's Telcel-Motorola 200.

The 24-year-old Virginian reached 102.903 mph in steering his No. 47 Ford around the 2.518-mile Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez road course in an average time of 88.091 seconds.

"I think I was most well-known last year for being the guy that had the least clue of what was going on," Wood said of the 2005 Busch Series race here, when he finished 15th. "So to come back here and have a winning, contending car is an awesome feeling."

Wood, accustomed to the oval tracks found at most Busch Series stops, quipped last year that he felt like TV character Jed Clampett lost in Beverly Hills while trying to negotiate the curvy track here.

This time, however, he had a car that was more up to the challenge, he said.

"This was the first time that we had an actual road race car," he said. "Last year we were behind ... in a lot of areas, and we really didn't get to put the effort into our road race stuff that we needed to."

Belgian Marc Goossens, a sports car and road race expert making his Busch Series debut, was second, with a top speed of 102.700. He started strong during rookie practice, then got faster in the second full session, turning his best lap of the day in his 11th and final time around the course.

Last year's Busch Series practice session in Mexico City featured a string of cars lost to crashes, as drivers struggled with the road course. Friday's final practice saw just three caution flags.