Long Beach: Fernandez Racing preview

Lowe's Fernandez Racing Prepares for Long Beach Challenge The American Le Mans Series continues its coast-to-coast tour with the second temporary street circuit event on the 2009 schedule -- the Tequila Patron American Le Mans at Long Beach.

Lowe's Fernandez Racing Prepares for Long Beach Challenge

The American Le Mans Series continues its coast-to-coast tour with the second temporary street circuit event on the 2009 schedule -- the Tequila Patron American Le Mans at Long Beach. Following a flawless performance on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla., two weeks ago, Adrian Fernandez and Luis Diaz are ready to tackle one of their favorite circuits.

The pair bring a wealth of experience to the downtown Long Beach street course -- dubbed the "world's fastest beach party" -- combining for a total of 22 career starts. They have shown strongly in ALMS competition previously at Long Beach, without yet being able to capitalize on their efforts. Diaz placed the #15 Lowe's Acura on the front row for last year's race but the duo finished sixth after struggling with a lack of front-end grip. In their 2007 ALMS debut at Long Beach, Fernandez saw a third-place overall finish fall by the wayside after running out of fuel on the final lap of the race.

Race fans will be treated to a double-header weekend of racing with the ALMS race on Saturday and the IndyCar Series' Grand Prix of Long Beach on Sunday.

Of Note:

* Fernandez has made 15 career starts at Long Beach [two in ALMS, one in Grand-Am, 11 in Champ Car and one in Indy Lights]; his best finish at Long Beach was second in 2003, driving for Fernandez Racing in the Champ Car Series

* Diaz has made seven career starts at Long Beach [two in ALMS, one in Grand-Am, two in Atlantics and two in Indy Lights]; he is a former race winner and pole sitter at Long Beach in 2006 Grand-Am competition

* The Long Beach race holds special significance for both Fernandez and Diaz; Fernandez made his Champ Car career debut at Long Beach with Galles Racing in 1993, and Diaz made his U.S. racing debut at Long Beach in 2000 in the Indy Lights Series

* The pair started second overall at Long Beach last year, but finished a disappointing sixth in class and eighth overall after struggling with a lack of grip in the latter stages of the race

* Lowe's Fernandez Racing enters its third season of ALMS competition in 2009

* Fernandez and Diaz are unbeaten in the LMP2 class this season, claiming wins at Sebring and St. Petersburg

* Their best overall finish this season was second at St. Petersburg two weeks ago

* Lowe's Fernandez Racing enters its second season as a full Acura-factory effort in 2009 after moving from a Lola chassis at the end of 2007

* In 25 career ALMS starts to date, Fernandez and Diaz have claimed two class pole positions, two class wins, seven podium finishes and 11 top-five results

Fernandez on the Long Beach race: "This is always such a great event. It would be hard to top the atmosphere around this race; the whole city is all about the Grand Prix. For me, it is like a homecoming because I have been racing here for so many years. It is a race that everyone looks forward to and I love everything about it. As for the race itself, strategy and traffic are really the key factors in these short sprint races. The team has given Luis and I perfectly prepared cars at Sebring and St. Petersburg, and I am confident of a strong showing here if we stay out of trouble. This is an important weekend for both Acura and Honda, with the race in their backyard, and we will do our best."

Diaz on the challenges of Long Beach: "Race strategy is very important here because you need to make a driver change and the timing can win or lose the race. This is a track where you really need to be both patient and aggressive. It is very fast with a lot of passing opportunities and that is what makes it both challenging and interesting. The biggest thing is to be mistake-free. I love street course racing because there is so much that comes into play. I have lot of good memories from racing at Long Beach over the years. We haven't had the success here in the ALMS that we wanted and, hopefully, we can change that this weekend."

-credit: fr

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About this article
Series ALMS
Drivers Luis Diaz