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DATE News (chronologically)
04/17/08
NNW
Jourdain will return to Nationwide Series in Mexico
Michel Jourdain
Michel Jourdain will return to the Nationwide Series for the first time since the race in Montreal last August this weekend in the Corona Mexico 200 at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez as the driver of Braun Racing's No. 32 entry.

If the popular fan favorite in his native country wants to get his name back in the heads of NASCAR team owners, he likely would need to do well this weekend. He originally had a two-year contract with ppc Racing and ran 20 races in what was then known as the Busch Series in 2005, but after sponsorship fell through he ran only three in 2006 and two last season. He also ran seven Craftsman Truck Series races for Jack Roush in 2006.

Jourdain hasn’t had a chance to shake down the Braun car and has no experience with – and even didn’t know about – the carburetor spacer that has sapped the Nationwide cars of some speed this year.

“I heard how that program was and they didn’t have a driver for this race, so I contacted them,” Jourdain said Thursday at the track. “Right now, it’s just this one [race]. I haven’t driven the car, and I don’t know how fast it will be. To tell you if we can win or not, I don’t know. In previous years, I have been very competitive and very, very fast, but for one reason or another we haven’t been able to complete it.

“This race has so many accidents, so many crashes, so many yellow flags. You have to be fast, but you’ve got to be there at the end. In three years, I was taken out not by my fault, so it’s tough.”

One of his most memorable Mexico events was when he was battling Kyle Busch for the lead, and the two tangled, knocking Jourdain out of the race in 2006. Now he is driving a car that Busch sometimes drives for Braun.

“I hope he knows that the guys in my pits will be doing his pit stops at some point,” Jourdain said with a laugh.

Jourdain, who was driving last year for the Saab program that ended with tough economic times, said he is still pursuing a NASCAR ride, even with the recent merger of the open-wheel racing series in the United States.

“I want to do ovals because I feel at some tracks I was good, and I never had a proper chance to do a full-time [schedule],” said Jourdain, who had two wins in a Champ Car career that spanned from 1997 to 2004. “I’m a racer, and I want to drive something good, but I still think it’s going to take [open-wheel] a little time. If I had an opportunity to choose, I would go for NASCAR.”

And although he hasn’t been pleased with the way his NASCAR experience went, he is still willing to see if he can break into full-time stock-car racing.

“I wish I had a proper opportunity,” Jourdain said. “It’s been hard.  … A full-time ride makes a big difference, working with your crew chief and your guys all the time.”  Scenedaily.com
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