Long Beach: Fernandez Racing preview

Lowe's Fernandez Racing Ready to Tackle Streets of Long Beach Fernandez Prepares for Long Beach-Mexico City "Double" Lowe's Fernandez Racing drivers Adrian Fernandez and Luis Diaz are hoping the saying "third time is a charm" holds true as ...

Lowe's Fernandez Racing Ready to Tackle Streets of Long Beach
Fernandez Prepares for Long Beach-Mexico City "Double"

Lowe's Fernandez Racing drivers Adrian Fernandez and Luis Diaz are hoping the saying "third time is a charm" holds true as the team heads to California this week for the third round of ALMS competition -- the Tequila Patron American Le Mans Series at Long Beach.

Ill fortune in the ALMS season-opening rounds has left two podium finishes on the table for the team, and Fernandez and Diaz with ground to make up in the point standings. At Sebring, a second-place overall finish for the #15 Lowe's Acura ARX 01-b was nullified in post-race technical inspection. Two weeks ago in St. Petersburg, Fernandez was hit from behind while running in fourth place with 20 minutes to go in the race.

A strong showing at Long Beach in 2007 has the team optimistic for the weekend. Last year saw Fernandez running third overall in the closing stages until a gamble on fuel strategy brought the team's podium bid to an end on the final lap.

Fernandez will hit the ground running this week as he prepares to contest both the Grand Prix of Long Beach on Saturday and the NASCAR Nationwide Series race in Mexico City on Sunday. This will be his fourth Nationwide Series start aboard the #5 Lowe's car at his hometown circuit -- Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez. He has three top-12 finishes to his credit, claiming his best finish to date of ninth last year. The #5 Lowe's-sponsored entry will be fielded by Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s JR Motorsports team with Chad Walter as crew chief.

Fernandez will arrive in Long Beach late Wednesday to take part in two ALMS test sessions on Thursday. His participation ensures that Diaz, who will qualify the #15 Lowe's Acura on Friday while Fernandez is in Mexico, will be able to maintain his grid position.

The Tequila Patron American Le Mans Series at Long Beach race will take place at 4:10 pm PT on Saturday, and will be broadcast on ABC at 9:30 am PST on Sunday, April 20th. It will be carried live on Fox Latin America/SPEED. The Nationwide Series race from Mexico City will be broadcast on ESPN at 10:30 am PST on Sunday.

Sunday's 34th Annual Grand Prix of Long Beach will mark the final race of the Champ Car World Series. Twenty drivers are expected to contest the Series' finale, the result of a recent merger with the IndyCar Series. Fernandez rose to prominence in Champ Car competition. His 11-year career from 1993 to 2003 included eight wins, four pole positions and 21 podiums in 178 career starts with a best finish of second in the championship in 2000.

Race Notes:
* Circuit -- 1.968-mile, 11-turn temporary street course
* Saturday's race will last one hour and 40 minutes
* A driver may not drive more than one-hour, 10-minutes total in the race

Of Note:

* Fernandez is the most experienced driver of the ALMS field on the streets of Long Beach with 14 career starts on the circuit [one in ALMS, one in Grand Am, 11 in Champ Car and one in Indy Lights competition]

* Fernandez claimed his best finish at Long Beach of second in 2003 driving for Fernandez Racing in the Champ Car Series; his best starting position was third in 1998 in Champ Car

* Diaz is a former race winner and polesitter at Long Beach [2006 Grand Am]

* Diaz made his U.S. racing debut at Long Beach in 2000 in Indy Lights competition; he has made a total of six career starts on the circuit [one in ALMS, one in Grand Am, two in Atlantics and two in Indy Lights]

* Fernandez and Diaz currently sit 13th in the ALMS point standings following the loss of a second-place overall finish in post-race technical inspection at Sebring and contact at St. Petersburg

* Fernandez and Diaz claimed three podiums and six top-five results in their ALMS debut last season

Of Personal Note:

* Fernandez will celebrate his 45th birthday this Sunday, April 20

* Fernandez and wife, Catalina, are expecting their second child -- a son, Niko -- to be born within the next two to three weeks. The couple's daughter, Valentina, will celebrate her first birthday on April 29

A Tale of Two Cities:

* Fernandez will log over 6,200 miles (10,066 kilometers) and 17 hours of flying time while doing the Long Beach-Mexico City double. His fast-paced schedule includes: + Thursday, April 17 -- Long Beach: media events in the afternoon followed by two one-hour ALMS test sessions. Wheels up at 7:00 pm for Mexico with an arrival time of 1:15 am locally. + Friday, April 18 -- Mexico City: press conference and media events in the morning followed by three hours of Nationwide Practice. Wheels up at 7:00 pm for Long Beach with an arrival time of 10:00 pm. + Saturday, April 19 -- Long Beach: ALMS warm up at 7:15 am followed by a driver's meeting, sponsor appearances, two autograph sessions and the race at 4:10 pm. Wheels up at 7:30 pm for Mexico City with an arrival time of 1:45 am locally. + Sunday, April 20 -- Mexico City: Lowe's appearance followed by driver's meeting, autograph session and the race at 1:00 pm (80 laps). Wheels up at 7:00 pm for Long Beach with an arrival time of 10:00 pm. + Monday, April 21 -- Santa Clarita/Torrance, Calif.: Acura/Honda Corporate "Race Day" activities.

Off-The-Track -- Long Beach:

* Wednesday, April 16 -- Diaz will participate in the ALMS' EPIC Pump Promotion to promote the use of ethanol and its relevance in the ALMS; EPIC, a Series partner, will provide E85 fuel to consumers for $0.85/gallon during the hour-and-a-half promotion which begins at 11:30 am PST at Conserv Fuel in Brentwood, Calif.

* Thursday, April 17 -- Diaz will make an appearance at the Statewide Latino Caucus where he will brief 50 elected Latino leaders from California on the American Le Mans Series

* Friday, April 18 -- Lowe's is the presenting sponsor of the Tecate Light "Fiesta Friday" Concert presented by Lowe's featuring renowned Mexican pop artist and Latin Grammy winner Aleks Syntek; the free concert will be held at the Tecate Light stage in front of the Long Beach Performing Arts Center at 6:00 pm PST

* Saturday, April 19 -- Fernandez and Diaz will be on hand to greet fans at the Team Lowe's Fan Experience located trackside at 2:00 pm PST

FERNANDEZ ON HIS GOALS FOR THE WEEKEND: "Long Beach and Mexico City are two of my favorite races, so I am definitely looking forward to this weekend. For Long Beach, I can tell you that the motivation within the team has never been stronger. We should be heading into this weekend with two podiums, but that's racing sometimes and it makes all of us all the more eager to show what we can do. We had a good run last year but our strategy didn't quite play out. We were banking on at least one or two yellows and they didn't happen which left us short on fuel. A lot of factors come into play in these short sprint races, especially strategy and traffic. I feel good about this weekend and we should come out of the box strong.

"For Mexico, I have a lot of confidence going in as well. This is a race I thoroughly enjoy, and we have a lot of track time on Friday to prepare for the race. David Green will qualify the car while I am in Long Beach for the ALMS race, and that means we will start at the back. But I have been in that position before and we almost won the race. I have to thank Lowe's and JR Motorsports for giving me this opportunity. It is always a pleasure to compete in my hometown, and I hope to pay back the fans that have supported me for so many years with a good result."

DIAZ ON LONG BEACH: "We are definitely looking to bounce back at Long Beach. It is frustrating to not have the results to prove what this team is capable of but I feel we will turn things around at Long Beach. This is a track that Adrian and I know well, and I love racing here. It is a challenging circuit particularly in our series with the different classes of cars and that is one of the things that I really like about competing on the street circuits. Long Beach is very fast with a lot of places to pass and that makes it very interesting. You have to be both patient and aggressive. It was very special to win here with Scott Pruett in 2006, and we will be working hard to get to the podium this year. We have a lot of fans here and this is like a second home for Adrian and me. I am looking forward to a good weekend."

-credit: fr

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About this article
Series ALMS
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Adrian Fernandez , David Green , Luis Diaz
Teams JR Motorsports