Lowe's Fernandez Racing drivers Adrian Fernandez and Luis Diaz finished third in class and fifth overall in an exciting season finale for the American Le Mans Series at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca this evening. The result is the third podium for the...
Lowe's Fernandez Racing drivers Adrian Fernandez and Luis Diaz finished third in class and fifth overall in an exciting season finale for the American Le Mans Series at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca this evening. The result is the third podium for the team in its first season of ALMS competition and the sixth top-five finish.
Diaz started the race in sixth position (fifth in class) and ran as fourth in class aboard the #15 Lowe's Acura Lola during his near two-hour driving stint while battling a crossweight balance issue. When he pitted on Lap 76 to turn the controls over to Fernandez, he was shown sixth overall and fourth in class. Quick pit work by the Lowe's Fernandez Racing crew gained Fernandez one track position. When the fourth caution of the day came out on Lap 90, the team elected to stay out as the leaders pitted and Fernandez was shown third overall.
With a track temperature reading of 66º (F), Fernandez -- like many others -- struggled with cold tires on the Lap 99 restart [80 minutes remaining]. As a result, he fell from third overall to sixth. When he came in for his final pit stop of the day on Lap 126, he had gained one position on track and one with quick pit work to return fourth overall and third in class.
Fernandez mounted a charge in the closing stages, battling with the #6 Penske Porsche of Ryan Briscoe and fellow Acura-powered driver Tony Kanaan. Lapped traffic played a role in his attempts to pass the #6 car and Fernandez had to settle for third at the end of the day.
Lowe's Fernandez Racing will return to racing action in the ALMS season-opener in Sebring, Florida, on March 15 -- the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring.
Adrian Fernandez, #15 Lowe's Acura Lola: "It was a fantastic race, and it was great to have [Lowe's Chairman and CEO] Robert Niblock and everyone here. Lowe's and Acura have been very supportive and we are very happy to give them this result. It was a good weekend overall. The car was fast, but in the race we had some issues with the crossweight and one of the wheels was locking too much right from the beginning. Nevertheless, the car was consistent. Luis drove well the first part of the race. When I took over, we double-stinted a set of tires and that was bad. I lost a lot of positions because the car had no grip at all. Temperature played a big, big role in this race. It was very, very cold. When you have carbon brakes, it is very difficult to warm them up and the speed you were traveling behind the pace car [under the yellows] made it difficult for everybody. We made the decision to go to sticker tires at the end. The last 30 minutes of the race was fantastic. I had a great fight with my good friend Tony Kanaan. I thought we had a shot at getting one of the yellow cars [Penske Porsches], but we didn't have any luck with lapped traffic. In the end, it is a good result. I am proud of the team and look forward to next year."
Luis Diaz, #15 Lowe's Acura Lola: "It was a good weekend. The team did an outstanding job today in the pits in gaining us track positions. When our car wasn't the quickest on the race track, they put us in a good position to fight. For me, it was a tough race because I struggled with cold tires on the restarts. Thankfully, everything went well and we ended with a good result. Having Lowe's here, who have supported us so much, and everyone from Acura, it was important for us to have a good result. It's a good feeling."