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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Championships are the measure of success and one NASCAR Toyota Series driver will achieve that validation on Sunday, Nov. 11 at Mexico City’s Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez by claiming the 2012 title.
The 14-race schedule reaches its conclusion in the Final Mexico Toyota 200 and three drivers – Jorge Goeters, Daniel Suárez and Homero Richards – are mathematically alive for the season’s ultimate prize.
The point standings took a drastic turn in the series’ last outing on Oct. 28 at the brand new El Dorado Speedway in Chihuahua, Mexico demonstrating the fragility of any lead regardless of size. Suárez carried a slim two-point lead over Goeters into the Chihuahua 200 and appeared to be on track to padding that advantage before disaster struck. After leading 115 of the race’s first 116 laps Suárez was coming out of Turn 4 on the .625-mile concrete oval when his No. 3 TELCEL Dodge took a sudden right-hand turn into the outside wall. The culprit was a problem with the car’s suspension and the damage was such that Suárez could not return to the race. As a result, he was relegated to a 30th-place finish.
Goeters, meanwhile, was able to avoid trouble and logged a finish in the eighth position. At the end of the day, what was a two-point deficit turned into an 18-point advantage with just a single race remaining.
Richards is always a threat to win races and has driven to Victory Lane six times since the beginning of the 2011 season. However, his title chances are quite slim. In fact, as soon as Goeters takes the green flag in Mexico City, Richards will be eliminated from the championship hunt.
So, in effect, the efforts of Goeters and Suárez will determine the championship.
Both Goeters and Suárez have earned a pair of victories this season, and each relish the prospect of staking claim to a NASCAR title. However, they have different views out the windshield of their respective careers.
Goeters at 42 years of age is a veteran of the sport and has competed in everything from the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series to Firestone Indy Lights to the GRAND-AM Road Racing Rolex Sports Car Series. He already has a Toyota Series title to his credit having finished atop the standings in 2005 before the Mexican series came under the NASCAR umbrella in 2007. Goeters has 13 career wins in the series with the first coming on June 6, 2004 and the most recent on Sept. 30 of this season including a pair of Mexico City triumphs behind the wheel of his No. 31 Canel's/FICREA/LuK Mazda.
Suárez, on the other hand, is just getting started. At the age of 20, he is still building his racing résumé, but his talent has already been recognized. As a regular competitor in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East, Suárez is part of NASCAR’s Next9 initiative that has identified young drivers with a skillset prone for advancement to the highest ranks of NASCAR. Other drivers in the group include NASCAR K&N Pro Series East champion and Sunoco Rookie of the Year Kyle Larson, NASCAR K&N Pro Series West title contender Dylan Kwasniewski and the much-heralded Chase Elliott. Suárez garnered his first Toyota Series victory earlier this season on May 12 at the very same Mexico City track on which the 2012 series champion will be decided on Sunday.
Should Suárez duplicate his effort from May and take the checkered flag on the one-mile oval, then Goeters must finish 13th or better without a bonus point for leading a lap. After the events in Chihuahua nothing can be taken for granted in the 150-lap event on Sunday.
Live audio in Spanish will be streamed for the Final Mexico Toyota 200 beginning on Sunday at 12:40 p.m. CT. The audio player can be found on the homepage of NASCARHomeTracks.com.
After some tough luck in his last outing, Daniel Suárez, left, has some work to do in order to claim the NASCAR Toyota Series championship on Sunday in Mexico City. Courtesy OCESA