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March race weekend at Phoenix International Raceway next season has taken on an international flavor.
The track, NASCAR and series manager OCESA announced Tuesday in Phoenix that the NASCAR Mexico Toyota Series will make its inaugural race in the United States on Friday, March 1 as part of the Subway Fresh Fit NASCAR Sprint Cup Series weekend.
"NASCAR is proud to make this historic announcement with Phoenix International Raceway and OCESA. It represents the next step in the growth of the sport and the international impact NASCAR is making," said Brian France, NASCAR chairman and CEO. "This is a terrific opportunity to expose our fans in the United States to our exciting series from Mexico and continue to help the series and its impressive array of drivers reach new fan."
The NASCAR Toyota Series is one of three international touring series under the NASCAR banner. The historic race marks the first points event for any of the international series to be held in the U.S.
"This is a truly significant day in the history of Phoenix International Raceway, we are both humbled and excited to play host to the NASCAR Mexico Toyota Series' first race in the United States," said Bryan Sperber, Phoenix International Raceway president. "We look forward to welcoming the series' great drivers, teams and fans to Phoenix and eagerly anticipate a great event."
The race will kick off the 10th season for the NASCAR Mexico Toyota Series, which has been a NASCAR-sanctioned series since 2007.
The format for the event on the 1-mile oval will be a 75-lap race, with a break at 50 laps followed by a 25-lap sprint to the finish. The race will count toward the 2013 championship. The series will share the weekend along with the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and NASCAR K&N Pro Series West.
Daniel Suarez leads the NASCAR Mexico Toyota Series by two points over Jorge Goeters with two races remaining on the 2012 schedule. The 20-year-old Suarez also runs in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series -- he is part of the 2012 Next9 class, a group of drivers identified by the industry as the next wave of young rising stars -- and finished third at Phoenix in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West race earlier this year.
The NASCAR Mexico Toyota Series traditionally runs a 14-race schedule, which encompasses eight different tracks this year. The series runs all but one race on ovals and is the premier auto racing series in Mexico.
"After 10 years of tremendous efforts, NASCAR Mexico Toyota Series has achieved a points race in the U.S. market," said Federico Alaman, Managing Director of the NASCAR Mexico Toyota Series. "All of our competitors, series officials and partners are delighted to showcase our sport at a venue as prestigious as Phoenix International Raceway and bring the NASCAR Mexico Toyota Series to an American audience."
The series champion, along with the Most Popular Driver and Rookie of the Year will be honored along with the other champions at the NASCAR Touring Series Awards at the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte in December.
In addition, the champion will lock up a berth in the inaugural UNOH Battle At The Beach on the .4-mile oval on the backstretch at Daytona International Speedway next February.
From left, driver Hugo Oliveras, driver Jorge Goeters, Director of NASCAR Toyota Series Enrique Contreras, Managing Director of the NASCAR Toyota Series Federico Alaman, NASCAR Vice President of Touring & Weekly George Silbermann, driver Daniel Suarez, Director of Racing Development for the NASCAR Toyota Series Chad Little and championship boxer Fernando Vargas following Tuesday's historic announcement. Courtesy Phoenix International Raceway