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Goeters knows his way around

Some NASCAR teams worried about security as they made their first trip south of the border to Mexico City. They had reason for concern: Somebody stole the pole.

Mexico's Jorge Goeters thrilled hometown fans yesterday by topping qualifying for today's Telmex-Motorola 200, edging Nextel Cup veteran Robby Gordon.

"It was really cool to see that guy get the pole, to see all the fans going crazy with the air horns going," said defending series champ Martin Truex Jr., who was third-fastest. "I don't think they'd have done that for me."

It also was good news for NASCAR, adding to local interest in a race that it hopes will help build an enduring relationship with fans in Mexico and with Hispanic fans in the United States as well.

"As far as Busch qualifying, I don't think we've ever had this many people at the track," Truex said, though officials did not have a count of the crowd yesterday.

Goeters called it "the happiest day of my life" after his No. 66 Ford bumped Gordon to second on the 2.518-mile road course.

"I can't tell you what this event means for me and for my country. I've always dreams of running in NASCAR," Goeters said. "I didn't even know it was a good lap until my team told me. `You did it! You're the leader!' "

It got even happier later. Goeters started on the pole in the afternoon's Corona Challenge race and finished second to brother Patrick.

The two leaped atop Patrick Goeters's car and embraced after the race, part of what NASCAR hopes will become a local development series. Road course specialists Boris Said and Ron Fellows qualified fourth and fifth, following by series points leader Kevin Harvick.

Indy Racing League -- Tomas Scheckter put Panther Racing out front, easily winning the pole for the season-opening Toyota Indy 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Florida. The son of former Formula One champion Jody Scheckter got around the 1 1/2-mile oval at 215.115 m.p.h. in a Dallara, nearly a full mile per hour faster than the 214.317 by runner-up Vitor Meira's Honda-powered Panoz. Three more Honda-powered cars followed. Buddy Rice, last year's Indianapolis 500 winner and the favorite to win the championship this year, was fourth at 214.006, with Dario Franchitti next at 213.899 and Scott Sharp sixth at 213.463.

Rolex Series -- Wayne Taylor and Max Angelelli raced to their second consecutive Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series victory at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Florida, winning the Grand Prix of Miami by 1.198 seconds.

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