AVONDALE, Ariz. (AP) - The most popular motorsports series in Mexico will make its U.S. debut Friday at Phoenix International Raceway.
The Mexico-based Toyota Series will hold its season opener at the track with a 75-lap race held after Sprint Cup Series qualifying. The series is running as a support race to Sprint Cup, Nationwide and the K&N West Series at PIR this weekend.
The Mexico Toyota Series began in 2004 but moved under the NASCAR banner in 2007 and has been NASCAR-sanctioned since. Drivers run a 14-race schedule on eight different tracks in Mexican V8 stock cars. All but one event this season are on an oval track.
Among the featured drivers is Daniel Suarez, a 20-year-old out of Monterrey, Mexico, who is the championship favorite after finishing third in the standings last year. Suarez is part of NASCAR's Next9 initiative - a group of nine drivers who are under 21 and represent the next wave of young talent - and is on track to become the youngest champion in series history.
Also scheduled to compete Friday is 16-year-old Ruben Garcia Jr., who has joined the powerful Canels team after winning rookie of the year last season.
Defending series champion Jorge Goeters is with a new team after being replaced by Garcia on the Canels team. Antonio Perez, younger brother of Formula One driver Sergio Perez, is also scheduled to race.