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Road racer seems at home
Published March 5, 2006
MEXICO CITY - Road-course specialist Boris Said earned the pole and two Mexican drivers placed in the top five Saturday in qualifying for today's Telcel-Motorola 200.
Said ran the 2.518-mile course in 1 minute, 28.295 seconds. Most of the top drivers in Friday's practice took the track after him but couldn't beat his time.
It was Said's second pole in six Busch Series starts. His first came during his debut in June 1998 at another road course, Watkins Glen.
Said finished fifth in Mexico City a year ago during the Busch Series' first race in Mexico. He said he didn't think his time would be good enough for the pole, but that Mexico City's tricky Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez played a role.
"How big and heavy these cars are, with 43 guys, it's difficult," he said. "The S (curves) are difficult, the last turn is difficult."
Second was Denny Hamlin, 0.134 seconds behind at 102.509 mph. He finished fifth in the points last year, his first full season.
"This track, I love it," Hamlin said. "I like short-track racing, road courses and flat tracks and this is a combination of all three of those."
Johnny Sauter was third followed by two Mexican drivers, open-wheel veteran Adrian Fernandez and last year's pole-sitter, Jorge Goeters.
"I wanted to make sure I got into Turn 1 very good," Fernandez said. "I did all that very good so from there to the end I needed to make sure that I didn't make mistakes."
GP OF ST. PETERSBURG: Indy Racing League president Brian Barnhart said Saturday that St. Petersburg is among several key markets he hopes to secure long-term and that negotiations are ongoing to extend the Grand Prix contract beyond next year.
"We would like to renew that as well for a multi-year commitment and keep going back there," Barnhart said. "We've met with all of our promoters and talked dates and length of terms with them and they are very excited about it as well. We look forward to it being a mainstay of their schedule for a long time to come."
The April 2 Grand Prix is the second in a three-year deal.