Take your pick from Mexico race's cornucopia
There are plenty of choices -- and nationalities -- to choose from if you're looking for a Mexico winner. Terry Blount breaks down the field for Sunday's Telcel-Motorola 200.
MEXICO CITY -- In contrast to most Busch races, someone other than a Cup regular has a chance to win the Telcel-Motorola 200 Sunday.
And even the Cup driver favored to win -- Juan Pablo Montoya -- never has won a NASCAR event, another oddity for the Mexico event.
A road course tends to work as an equalizer for drivers with differing skills and backgrounds. No race this season will have a more diverse starting grid than this one.
With that in mind, here's a look at the driver in each category who has the best chance to take the checkered flag, along with a few other to watch:
Cup regular: Juan Pablo Montoya
Road courses are his strength. He raced six years in Formula One and two in Champ Car, winning the title in 1999.
But he never has road-raced in a stock car, so the verdict is pending on whether he can make the necessary adjustments to the bigger and heavier machine for the 80-lap race.
Montoya was the fastest in practice Friday, but he locked the tires during his qualifying run Saturday on his second lap. Montoya will start third in the No. 42 Dodge.
Don't count out: Denny Hamlin, who won this race a year ago. Hamlin starts fifth in the No. 20 Chevy.
"My car doesn't have that awesome feel like it had last year," Hamlin said. "But I don't think anyone's does. We just needed to be a little better in qualifying."
Road-course ringer: Scott Pruett
He's Montoya's teammate this weekend and he's starting on the pole. Pruett set a track record Saturday at 103.647 mph in the No. 41 Dodge for Chip Ganassi Racing. It's his second pole in only the seventh Busch start of his career.
Pruett is competing in this event for the first time, but he's one of the most experienced road-racers in the field. He's the only seven-time winner of the 24 Hours of Daytona.
"You have to have a good car, which we do," Pruett said. "But we also have to make smart calls in the race. To win here would be a dream come true."
Don't count out: Boris Said.
The professor of road-course racing finished second last year after starting on the pole. He was fifth in the first Mexico Busch event. When Said has decent equipment, the former Trans-Am champion is always a threat on a road course.
Mexican favorite: Adrian Fernandez
A veteran open-wheel racer in Champ Car and the IndyCar Series, Fernandez knows his way around a road course, and he knows this one better than most.
The popular Mexico City native has competed in all three Busch races on the 2.5-mile road course. He made an impressive charge to the front in 2005, leading briefly after starting 40th. He finished 10th.
Fernandez will have to work his way through the field again on Sunday. His team changed engines Saturday before he qualified 17th, so he'll start in the back. But he has a car capable of winning in the No. 5 Chevy for Hendrick Motorsports.
Don't count out: Carlos Contreras. The Mexico City native will start on the front row with Pruett. It's the best start of Contreras' career.
"I don't believe it," said Contreras, who is driving the No. 22 Dodge. "Look at my smile. This is Mexico and we're on the outside pole."
Contreras, a former Craftsman Truck Series racer, led three laps of the Mexico City race last year and finished 11th.
Another Mexican to count in: Jorge Goeters, who won the pole for the inaugural Mexico Busch race in 2005. He led 24 laps in that event before leaving the race with an engine failure. He starts fourth Sunday in the No. 27 Ford.
Canadian contender: Ron Fellows.
He's a veteran road racer who has three Busch Series victories on the Watkins Glen road course. Fellows is driving the No. 33 Chevy owned by Kevin and DeLana Harvick.
He starts sixth and hopes to finish this event for the first time. Fellows was involved in an accident in 2005 and left the race with a radiator problem last year.
Rookie sensation: Brad Coleman
He has surprised everyone this weekend in his Busch debut. Coleman is only 19, but the Houston racer posted fast speeds in practice. He qualified 14th Saturday in the No. 18 Chevy.
Coleman signed with Joe Gibbs Racing in December. It doesn't hurt him this weekend that he's Hamlin teammate and is using the same setups the team used to win this event last year.
His team gave him a pie in the face Saturday as his initiation to the series.
Don't count out: Steve Wallace. Rusty's son qualified a respectable 22nd in the No. 66 Dodge, but he has a lot to learn about road racing.
Toyota hopeful: Jason Leffler
It's a long shot at best. Only three Toyotas are in the field, so it's slim pickings, but he's the fastest Camry at 23rd on the starting grid.
Don't count out: Dave Blaney. He skipped the final practice Friday and qualified 31st. Blaney finished second at Daytona in Toyota's first Busch race, but this ain't Daytona.
Busch regular: Bobby Hamilton Jr.
Hey, we had to list somebody, so Hamilton is as good as anyone. He shocked himself by qualifying 18th in the No. 35 Ford.
"I'm normally as lost as an Easter egg on these road courses," Hamilton said. "But this car is really fast, so things are looking up."
The chances of a full-time Busch driver winning Sunday are about the same as most weeks: slightly better than zero.
Don't count out: On second thought, count out all the Busch regulars.
Tasmanian driver: Marcos Ambrose
Not a good chance, but he's the only Tasmanian in the field, so we'll cut him a break.
Ambrose, who raced in the Craftsman Truck Series last year, was in the top 10 on the speeds charts Friday in the No. 59 Ford. He qualified 12th. If he finishes in the top 10, it's a good weekend.
Terry Blount covers motorsports for ESPN.com. He can be reached at email@example.com.
ESPN TOP HEADLINES
- Coach: Benched RG III must 'work on craft'
- Butler hangs on to upset UNC in Bahamas
- Still: Claims of unpaid child support untrue
- Gordon felt some Browns brushed him off
MOST SENT STORIES ON ESPN.COM
• Zoom Gallery | Surround
• Blount: Vintage -- and spectacular -- Montoya
• Newton: Win doesn't win over peers
• Montoya wins in Mexico City
• Newton: Montoya feeling at home | Blog
• Pruett on the pole
• Blount: Pick 'em | Blog
• Agulla: Montoya rising to challenge
• Vega: A nice show, but only that
• Guerra: What's in track's name?
• Newton: No more chicanery
• Blount: Biggest stars absent
• Hangin' with Hamlin
• Rusty Nails It
• Fofaria: It's better in Mexico
Noticias y análisis
• Montoya se queda con la victoria
• Posiciones finales de la carrera
• Vega: La NASCAR salió ganando
• Montoya se disculpa con Pruett
• Mexicanos no tuvieron suerte
• NASCAR confirma México 2008