Jourdain to NASCAR, Champ Car loses another Mexican

UPDATE #12 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' with today's announcement. See our Home page. 01/06/05 The same company that does Kenny Wallace's website registered www.MichelJourdainJr.com yesterday…..more evidence they will be teammates in 2005. 01/05/05 The rumor mill in Mexico says that it's official, Jourdain to ppc Racing! Jourdain will drive alongside Kenny Wallace for the ppc team all next season in the NASCAR Busch Series. John Andretti will drive their Nextel Cup car. No official announcement yet though, so…… We also hear that Roberto Gonzalez may not have a ride so Champ Car is down to just two Mexicans, Mario Dominguez and Rodolfo Lavin, for 2005 and Mario will be off to F1 in 2006, at which time Champ Car will have one Mexican driver. 01/05/05 A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, It finally starts to look like things are getting better for Champ Car and then they go and lose Michel Jourdain to NASCAR. When are the 3 Amigos going to learn that fans pay to see their heroes and it's all about the drivers? Stop taking the paying drivers and dish out whatever you have to if it means keeping the drivers that fans turn out to see.

Fernandez goes to IRL. Jourdain goes to NASCAR. Diaz goes to Grand Am. Well that leaves Champ Car with only one legitimate Mexican driver capable of winning in Dominguez and all the talk is that he's going to F1. If that happens, there will be Champ Car, NASCAR and Grand-Am races in Mexico — and the bigger names for the Mexican fans will be the ones in the NASCAR and Grand-Am series.

It doesn't take long to erode a fan base that thrives on seeing Mexican drivers capable of winning in an economy that almost forces fans to make a choice. It's pretty much a given that Champ Car's attendance will take a hit with the addition of two more races in Mexico City. If they keep losing the drivers that the Mexican fans cheer for, it won't be long before Champ Car is #3 in Mexico and the series loses two key events. Richard G. Springfield OH 01/05/05 This rumor is getting close to going to 'fact' as all sources are saying Jourdain has agreed to race for ppc in the NASCAR Busch (Busch? What a step backward for his career) series. All that remains is for the ink to dry on the contract ….so the sources say. Jourdain, who got smoked by his teammate, the rookie AJ Allmendinger, last year in Champ Car may have felt he wasn't fast enough for Champ Car anymore, so to save his image he would move to NASCAR before anymore damage was done to his career by being outpaced by his teammate. We do not expect Jourdain to meet with much success in NASCAR, but we hear the pay is good. This move will help NASCAR establish a presence in Mexico as they look to establish a foothold. Regardless, the loss of Jourdain is a blow to Champ Car after it lost Adrian Fernandez to the IRL. Expect a further drop in Champ Car attendance at both Monterrey and Mexico City in 2005 unless another Mexican driver is found who can wheel a Champ Car to the front. 01/04/05 Today on Sirius Speedway (Sirius Satellite Radio) they had Greg Pollix on, owner of ppc Racing and he said that Michel Jourdain will be one of his full time drivers this year in the Bush Series along with Kenny Wallace. The contracts are all but signed. And, according to an article in today's Mexican Newspaper Reforma, who spoke to him yesterday, Michel is in Charlotte working on some of the details on the ppc contract. He says that he is pretty close to signing, and might close the deal this week. As for Champ Car he says that he had offers from PKV Racing and from Forsythe, but they weren't quite as good. 01/03/05 Robin Miller reported on SPEED News last evening that Michel Jourdain will stay in Champ Car and has a big Mexican oil company behind him. We assume he means Pemex, per this rumor. Mark C. 12/25/04 A little history info about Pemex. It's the only oil company in Mexico. In March of 1938, all foreign oil interests in Mexico were nationalized to the Mexican government. Therefore, March 18th is a national holiday. Mexicans are extremely proud of the fact that their country owns its own oil production. Mexicans would gladly pay more for national oil instead of opening up competition to foreign oil companies which would guarantee lower oil prices. Mexico’s oil is the peoples' oil and the money stays in the country.

The thought of selling Pemex to private foreign investors has tickled the minds of many Mexican political and economists. They know that if Pemex is privatized a huge load of their debt would be eliminated overnight. However, the thought of not having control of its own oil is sacrilege. It would be un-nationalistic and that would hurt the ego of Mexicans throughout the nation.

Since NAFTA, many national services and companies (e.g. Telmex, Banamex) have been privatized and Pemex remains one of the few government owned income generating assets that Mexicans would hate to see privatized.

12/08/04 According to the Mexican Reforma newspaper, Michel Jourdain received an offer last week from Forsythe and also had an offer from NASCAR's ppc Racing for 2005. Jourdain already tested ppc's NASCAR Busch Series car at Hickory Motor Speedway. Reforma quoted ppc’s owner Keith Barnwell: "We made him an offer and we hope to sign him soon. We're already looking at sponsors for Michel's program. We tested him, and we think he's very talented and skilled. Next step is getting him to drive our car in 2005." Champ Car's HVM (formerly Herdez) is also waiting for Jourdain's response. 11/29/04 AutoRacing1.com contacted the office of Michel Jourdain Jr. today regarding his rumored move to NASCAR. The spokesperson told AutoRacing1.com, "Michel has more than one and a half feet in NASCAR (a Mexican saying that means it’s a sure thing) , but the only thing stopping him is the respect and love he has for Champ Car. Michel is looking for enough sponsorship to still get a competitive ride in Champ Car for 2005. He does feels a little disappointed with the new owners of Champ Car, because they haven’t given him the support or recognition they have given other drivers like Paul Tracy, not taking into consideration he helped the series by staying in Champ Car when Rahal bolted out of the series at the start of 2004. He feels all alone, and now that he needs help to find a good team in Champ Car, he feels it is time for Champ Car to return the favor. Maybe Champ Car has not seen that they need Michel to keep the Mexican market interested. After Adrian left for the IRL, Michel and Mario Dominguez took the position of Mexican heroes. Perhaps NASCAR and Adrian realize that hence why they are interested in Michel so much." [Editor's Note: With Mario Dominguez about to sign with the Midland F1 team for 2006 (according to reports) and Michel Jourdain Jr. possibly headed to NASCAR, Champ Car could soon have zero Mexican drivers left, assuring both the Monterrey and Mexico City races will be ripe for failure. Champ Car has no one looking after their interests in Mexico as NASCAR and the IRL does, and if they are not careful, they will lose the market completely in a couple of years. The TV fiasco in Mexico this year, whereby only a few races were shown live or in their entirety, has opened major cracks in Champ Car's Mexican foundations. ] 11/24/04 This El Norte article says Gigante and Jourdain both prefer to stay in Champ Car and they are eyeing the possibility of Gigante taking over for Herdez as the primary sponsor of the now renamed HVM team. It does say that Jourdain is talking to Fernandez about running him in the Indy 500, but that all depends on the Champ Car schedule. We doubt it would work. Jourdain also has options in the NASCAR Busch series, and if not the entire series, then the Mexico City race only. "He would be starting from ground zero in NASCAR," stated Gigante's Javier Villa. Bottom line – Jourdain and Gigante will stay in Champ Car if he finds a competitive ride such as the HVM team, which, with Dominguez, would become "the Mexican team." They are looking for at least a 2-year deal. 11/24/04 The press conference was held today and Michel Jourdain stated that he has around 15 different options for next year and that he will make a decision in two weeks. Gigante said that they will not sponsor him at RuSPORT but will keep sponsoring Jourdain no matter what his decision is. Jourdain also said he is in talks with Fernandez Racing for the Indianapolis 500, but that his main concern is finding a competitive team, either in Champ Car, IRL or NASCAR. Will we see the IRL attempt to further erode Champ Car's business in Mexico by having Jourdain teamed with Fernandez in the IRL? Our sources say he's probably off to NASCAR though. Jose Arrambide reporting from Mexico 11/23/04 AutoRacing1.com has learned that there will be a press conference tomorrow in Mexico City with Javier Villa from Gigante, and Michel Jourdain Jr. We hear that they will make a very important announcement and then they will answer some questions. Could this be the “Gigante is pulling out of racing, we wish Michel all the luck in the world," announcement or "we are taking Michel to NASCAR" announcement? 11/23/04 We are now hearing that Michel Jourdain might switch to NASCAR in 2005. If so, we suspect his career just took a nosedive (moving from top series to development series) but it will help NASCAR's gate in Mexico City next year. We saw Christian Fittipaldi ruin his career making a similar move. 11/23/04 Rumor has it that Michel Jourdain Jr. may land at the HVM team (formerly Herdez) and may be bringing a Mexican beer sponsor with him. The team lost Herdez so if this rumor is true, the team becomes an all-Mexican team with a much needed new sponsor. We hear that Ryan Hunter-Reay will land elsewhere.

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