Pruett on pole; four Mexican drivers in top 20

Updated: March 3, 2007, 7:21 PM ET
Associated Press

MEXICO CITY (AP) -- Scott Pruett won the pole for Sunday's Telcel-Motorola 200, the third race south of the border in NASCAR's Busch Series.

Pruett averaged 103.647 mph on his fastest lap Saturday in the No. 41 Dodge on the 2.518-mile Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez course.

Mexico City native Carlos Contreras was second at 103.407 mph in a 22 Dodge, and Juan Pablo Montoya, the Colombian star who jumped from Formula One to NASCAR last season, qualified third at 103.391 mph in a Dodge. Montoya finished first in Friday's practice and blamed changes in his car for his third place Saturday.

"Yesterday the car had really good balance and today they made some changes and the car became really tight," Montoya said. "I told them we shouldn't make the changes but they said it will be better. I guess it wasn't.

"Things like that will happen and it's quite a learning curve. But hopefully we have a decent chance of winning tomorrow."

Mexican Jorge Goeters, the pole winner in 2005, was fourth at 103.203.

The 46-year-old Pruett said his road-course expertise should give him the edge.

"I've had experience on road courses, which will give me a bit of an advantage. As long we do things smart and make the right calls on stops we've got a shot to win it," Pruett said. "Our car is running is good and we are going to just keep doing what we are doing."

Contreras was ecstatic about his performance.

"I don't believe it. I'm very happy. Can you see my face, my smile?" Contreras said. "Respects to Scott. You beat me man. You're fast. But tomorrow is a different day. There are different strategies and there are 80 laps not one."

Defending champion Denny Hamlin qualified fifth.

"Last year, we just knew from a month before hand we were going to win. I kind of have that same confidence this year," he said. "Scott Pruett and Juan Pablo Montoya have the road-course background and are with awesome teams, so we are going to step up our game to beat them."


Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press