- Associated Press - Thursday, February 28, 2013

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 Suárez, a 20-year-old out of Monterrey, Mexico, who is the championship favorite after finishing third in the standings last year. Suárez 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.

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