Sunday
Apr152007

TEAM NEWS: Lowe’s Fernandez Racing Fifth in Long Beach Qualifying

Adrian Fernandez qualified the #15 Lowe’s Acura Lola fifth in the LMP2 class and seventh overall this afternoon for the debut of the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) at the 33rd Annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. It was an eventful 25-minute qualifying session for Fernandez, who was quick out of the box on the challenging street circuit and claimed the fastest overall time in the 45-minute morning practice session.

Contact with a slower car that had moved across into the racing line sent Fernandez to the pits early in the session to replace the nose section of the Lowe’s machine. Fernandez returned to the track with 12 minutes remaining but was unable to improve his position.

While new to ALMS competition, Lowe’s Fernandez Racing has made an impressive start and currently sits second in the LMP2 class point standings – only three points out of first – following two top-five results to date of second in Sebring and fourth at St. Petersburg.

Tomorrow’s one hour 40-minute race, which begins at 4:00 pm PT, will mark the 14th career start for Fernandez on the temporary street circuit and the sixth for Luis Diaz who won the Grand Am race in Long Beach last year.

33rd Annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach Overall Qualifying Results:

1. Dario Franchitti (Acura) 1:11.838 = 98.622 mph

2. Ryan Briscoe 1:12.144 = 98.204 mph

3. Timo Bernhard 1:12.247 = 98.064 mph

7. Adrian Fernandez 1:13.148 = 96.856 mph

Adrian Fernandez, #15 Lowe’s Acura Lola:

“There was a car that came out of the pits very slowly and I was coming by on a quick lap. He was to the left and at the last minute pulled to the right and that caught me up. I hit him and we had to come in and change the nose. At the end [of the session] for some reason the car was hitting at the front under braking and that was not allowing me to carry more speed into the apex. Overall, I think we have a good car and it’s not the end of our day. There are a lot of things that can happen in the race, just like we saw in St. Petersburg. We just need to regroup. There are still a lot of opportunities for us tomorrow.”

Adrián Fernández Fast Facts… is the most experienced driver in the ALMS field on the streets of Long Beach having made 13 career starts on the temporary street circuit… claimed his best finish at Long Beach of second in 2003 driving for Fernandez Racing in the Champ Car Series; best starting position was third in 1998 in Champ Car… is a veteran of a 12-year career at the top levels of open-wheel competition, winning in both Champ Car (CART) and IndyCar Series competition with a career record that includes 194 starts, 11 wins and 25 podiums… debuted in sports car competition in 2006, winning the Mid-Ohio Rolex Sports Car Series race and claiming four additional top-five finishes… began competing in select NASCAR Busch Series events in 2005, driving for Team Lowe’s Racing and Hendrick Motorsports and most recently finished ninth in the Busch race at Mexico City on March 4… finished fifth in the IndyCar Series championship in his inaugural season in 2004 with three wins and six top-five finishes… missed the 2000 Champ Car championship crown by only 10 points, finishing second in the series… has garnered numerous awards over the years including “Athlete of the Year in Mexico”… named one of Mexico’s 300 most influential people by a national magazine in 2006… 43 years old from Mexico City…resides in Scottsdale, Ariz., with wife Catalina.

Luis Diaz, #15 Lowe’s Acura Lola:

“We had some bad luck in qualifying and didn’t get a chance to show what we could do, but I am confident that we will have a good car for tomorrow. If we can stay away from trouble in the race, that is all that matters. I know if we can have a clean race, we will finish in the front for sure.”

Luis Díaz Fast Facts... was last year’s polesitter and race winner in the Grand-Am race at Long Beach… has made a total of five career starts at Long Beach [two in Indy Lights, two in Atlantics and one in Grand-Am]… debuted in sports car competition in 2004 and has claimed eight wins over the past three years as well as Rolex Sports Car Series Team Championship honors in 2006 and a second-place result in the driver championship co-driving with Scott Pruett… was named “Driver of the Year” in Mexico in 2006… won the Mexico Formula 3 championship in 1998… earned Rookie of the Year honors in the Mexican Indy Lights Pan-American Championship, Mexico Formula 3 Championship and Formula Reynard Series Mexico… U.S. open-wheel success includes a fourth-place finish in the 2002 Atlantic championship… began racing go-karts at the age of 12, winning several national championships… 29 years old from Mexico City… resides in Toluca, Mexico, with wife Carolina… nickname is “Chapulín” (Cha-poo-leen) which means grasshopper.

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