Jourdain's Busch switch

Champ Car World Series veteran Michel Jourdain Jr will switch from single-seaters to stock cars in 2005 after joining ppc Racing for a NASCAR Busch Series campaign

Jourdain's Busch switch

Ford Motorsports Director Dan Davis, who had already arranged a ppc test for the 28-year-old Mexican, helped broker the deal.

"I'm very excited about this chance," Jourdain said. "I've been wanting to come to NASCAR for a couple years now, and Dan Davis worked very hard with me to find the right opportunity.

"I've raced on some of the tracks - places like Fontana and Milwaukee - but a lot of them will be new for me. The key for me this year will be to finish races and get as much seat time as I can. I'd like this to be the first step to getting to the Nextel Cup."

Jourdain's signing is timely, as the Busch series will race in his homeland for the first time this season, the stock cars visiting Champ Car and former Grand Prix venue Mexico City in March. He will become the first Hispanic driver to contest a full Busch schedule.

"The fact that we've been able to get this programme together this year when the series is going to have its first race in Mexico just adds to the excitement," said Davis.

Jourdain Jr was Champ Car's youngest ever competitor when he joined the series with Scandia-Simon Racing at Long Beach in 1996. After several largely midfield seasons with the Payton-Coyne and Bettenhausen/Herdez teams, he moved to Team Rahal in 2002 and became a regular frontrunner - winning twice and challenging for the title in 2003. Rather than follow Rahal to the IRL IndyCar Series last season, Jourdain opted to stay in Champ Car with the new RuSport organisation, but he was outshone by rookie team-mate A.J. Allmendinger and dropped in favour of Justin Wilson at the end of the year. The downturn in the Mexican economy had also led to Jourdain losing the backing of sponsors Gigante.

Champ Car president Dick Eidswick said his organisation would be sad to see Jourdain go, especially after his decision not to defect to the IRL in 2004.

"We are disappointed to lose a driver of the calibre of Michel from our series and we wish him success in his new endeavour," said Eidswick. "His decision to stay in Champ Car after the departure of his former team prior to the start of the season was a key in building momentum for a successful 2004 and is something that Champ Car will always be grateful for."

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