CALDERON TAKES AMERICAN DEBUT OF NMTS

CALDERON TAKES AMERICAN DEBUT OF NASCAR MEXICO TOYOTA SERIES AT PHOENIX INTERNATIONAL RACEWAY

The most famous words in motorsports--Pilotos, enciendan sus motores--were enthusiastically delivered by grand marshal Sergio Romo, relief pitching ace of the world champion San Francisco Giants, and with that the American debut of the NASCAR Mexico Series was launched at Phoenix International Raceway on Friday evening.  Abraham Calderon won the Toyota 120 inaugural event, taking his first career victory.

"It is amazing," gushed Calderon in victory lane.

The race got off to a wild start in turn 1.  Pole sitter Jorge Goeters, the 2012 series champion, slipped high on the start, and fourth-starting Jose Luis Ramirez tried to fill the hole.  With cars going three-wide, Goeters and Ramirez spun.  Ramirez got the worst of it, finishing 26th and last.

Calderon, who earlier in the day announced sponsorship from the World Baseball Classic to promote the appearance of the Mexico team against the U.S. in Phoenix next week, took off to a handy lead.  The only other driver who seemed to have anything for Calderon was Homero Richards, who hung onto second place, about two seconds behind, until the mandatory break at lap 50.

After the intermission, Antonio Perez swooped low into second place and there was fierce racing for fourth through seventh places until another three-wide situation forced a wreck involving Hector Aguirre.  Aguirre's Toyota damaged the safer barrier and brought out a red flag.

The subsequent restart on lap 66 saw Ruben Pardo dash into second, which he held until fading on the last lap.

The final results behind Calderon found Perez second, Ruben Garcia Jr. in third, Pardo fourth, and Richards fifth.

Saturday will see a doubleheader at PIR as the NASCAR Nationwide Series will start at 2:30 p.m. and drivers in the Talking Stick Resort 60 NASCAR K&N Pro Series West will take the green flag at 5:30.  Good seats are available for Saturday's races.

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