TEAM NEWS: Lowe's Fernandez Racing Drivers Ready for Houston Debut

Photo by John Thawley The American Le Mans Series (ALMS) heads to Houston, Texas, this weekend for its third consecutive temporary street course race -- the Lone Star Grand Prix of Houston. While it is the second visit to Houston for the ALMS, Lowe's Fernandez Racing drivers Adrian Fernandez and Luis Diaz are newcomers to the 1.7-mile JAGFlo Speedway Reliant Park circuit.

Fernandez has competed on the streets of Houston. However, his four race starts -- the last in 2001 -- were on a different 1.527-mile Champ Car circuit adjacent to the George R. Brown Convention Center. Diaz concedes his "rookie" status this weekend but is anxious to return to his form of three weeks ago when he led the LMP2 class field in his first appearance on the streets of St. Petersburg.

Lowe's Fernandez Racing has shown its potential in the first three rounds of ALMS competition. Fernandez and Diaz finished second in their series debut at the prestigious Twelve Hours of Sebring in March and looked headed for their first victory two weeks later in St. Petersburg until a costly penalty knocked the duo out of contention. In Long Beach last weekend, Fernandez was set to battle the #6 Penske Porsche of Sascha Maassen for second place in the closing stages until a gamble on fuel forced Fernandez to throttle back.

Fernandez and Diaz are currently fourth in the driver championship -- three points out of third and nine points out of second. Lowe's Fernandez Racing is placed third in the team championship standings.

Race Notes:

* Circuit - 1.7-mile temporary street course

* Saturday's ALMS race will be 2 hours 45 minutes (5:30 pm CT start)

* Driver changes: each driver must complete at least 10 laps and a driver may not drive more than two hours total in the race

Of Note:

* Both Fernandez and Diaz will be making their first career starts around the JAGFlo Speedway Reliant Park circuit

* Fernandez will be celebrating his 44th birthday on Friday [April 20]

* Fernandez will have his cell phone close at hand this weekend as he and his wife, Catalina, are expecting their first child six days after the Grand Prix of Houston -- April 27

* Fernandez and Diaz will trade their helmets for hard hats this Thursday as the pair will be participating in a Habitat for Humanity build northeast of downtown Houston [media are invited to attend from 3:30 pm to 5:30 pm -- location information noted at end of pre-race notes]

* A first-year team in ALMS competition, Lowe's Fernandez Racing has claimed two top-five results to date -- second at Sebring and fourth at St. Petersburg

FERNANDEZ ON HOUSTON: "Based on our performance in the last two street course races, I am expecting good things for this weekend. We have more track time here compared to Long Beach which will be a help to both Luis and myself in learning the circuit and what we need from the car. I always enjoy coming to Houston and have had a lot of support from the fans here over the years. I actually lived in Houston for a month when I was a little kid. I was in an exchange program to learn English and I always think about that time when I come to Houston."

DIAZ ON THE HOUSTON CIRCUIT: "I love racing on street circuits and I like the look of the layout in Houston with a variety of turns and some fast straightaways. From what I hear, I think the biggest challenge for us will be dealing with the bumpiness of the track. We have been strong in the last two street course races but haven't been able to bring home the results. Hopefully we will change that this weekend. We have a great package with the Acura engine and also the Michelin tires, and I am feeling very confident that we can get the job done at Houston."

About the #15 Lowe's Acura Lola:

* Powered by the new 3.4-liter Acura LM V-8 engine designed and developed by HPD [Honda Performance Development], Honda's wholly-owned racing subsidiary based in Santa Clarita, Calif.

* Chassis is the Lola B05/40 LMP2 sportscar

* Tires are Michelin

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