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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – It wasn’t for the faint of heart.
The championship battle in the NASCAR Mexico Toyota Series came complete with twists, turns, surprises and disappointment. And that was just in the season finale in Mexico City. The rest of the season was simply a rollercoaster ride.
There’s no question that winning a championship in any sport not only requires skill, but also a little luck. Jorge Goeters used a healthy dose of each en route to this year’s title.
The Toyota Series season opened with a wide-open field of contenders for the championship as Germán Quiroga, who won the three previous series crowns, would not defend his title while pursuing other racing opportunities in the United States. The cast of characters was long at the beginning, but was quickly filtered down to two – the veteran Goeters and the young gun Daniel Suárez.
Mexico City native Goeters got out of the gate quickly with a pair of top fives, but then the thrill ride began.
With a 14-race schedule the margin of error is slim. Mechanical problems, bad luck or just a bad day can unravel a team’s season in a heartbeat. At Querétaro in the season’s third race a 20th-place finish was the No. 31 Canel’s/Ficrea/Luk Mazda team’s first test in resilience, but it was still early and the damage in the point standings wasn’t anything a victory couldn’t cure.
Two races later at Puebla, Goeters collected his first win of the season which not only erased the earlier misstep, but also propelled him to the top of the standings. However, the ride hadn’t yet reached the halfway mark.
Goeters bobbled again in the season’s seventh outing, a July date at Mexico City. A season-worst finish of 22nd dropped him from first to third in points. The deficit was just eight points, so, again, it was manageable. The season was half complete, though. It was time to go error-free.
Despite reeling off five consecutive top-10 finishes including his second win of the season in September at Monterrey, Goeters still trailed Suárez in the standings albeit by just two points. The problem was that Suárez wasn’t showing any signs of blinking in this showdown.
In the series’ penultimate race and inaugural visit to Chihuahua in October, Suárez blinked and Goeters pounced. Early in the race, Suárez dominated and looked ready to pad his advantage, but, as luck would have it, a suspension problem turned his car into the outside retaining wall of Turn 4. As a result, Goeters reclaimed the points lead and went into the season finale with an 18-point advantage.
The stage was set for a final battle at Mexico City’s Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez. Even though 18 points is a sizeable lead, Goeters still needed to finish in the top half of the field to end any comeback bid from Suárez. The memories of Goeters’ poor performance in July and a Suárez victory in May at the one-mile track in the Mexican capital still were fresh in everyone’s mind.
The race proved to be a little unusual. After a caution in the first 10 laps, it was green-flag racing the rest of the way in the 150-lap event. Everything boiled down to pit strategy and the specter of a green-flag pit stop – something that doesn’t often happen in NASCAR touring series races. Goeters made his stop without incident along with several other teams, but Suárez opted to wait and see if he could catch a caution. It didn’t come. By the time Suárez made his stop Goeters’ Mazda on fresh tires had made up the difference and a caution would be inconsequential.
"I'm very happy. This championship really is for all those who are part of the team and is dedicated to all my family,” Goeters said.
Goeters, who won the series’ inaugural event in 2004, won the championship in 2005, but this year’s title comes under the NASCAR banner after the American sanctioning body joined forces with OCESA, the series’ organizers in Mexico, in 2007.
For his career, Goeters has made 111 series starts with 13 wins, 17 poles, 57 top-five and 77 top-10 finishes.
A key late season win at Monterrey propelled Jorge Goeters to the NASCAR Mexico Toyota Series title. Courtesy OCESA