Utah: Acura preview

De FERRAN, PATRON HIGHCROFT ALMS TEAMS EXPECT ANOTHER ACURA SHOOTOUT AT MILLER MOTORSPORTS PARK Lowe's Fernandez Team Hopes To Stay Unbeaten In LMP2 In Utah Grand Prix TOOELE, Utah -- American Le Mans Series racers...

De FERRAN, PATRON HIGHCROFT ALMS TEAMS EXPECT ANOTHER ACURA SHOOTOUT AT MILLER MOTORSPORTS PARK
Lowe's Fernandez Team Hopes To Stay Unbeaten In LMP2 In Utah Grand Prix

TOOELE, Utah -- American Le Mans Series racers Gil de Ferran and Simon Pagenaud made a sensational debut last year at Miller Motorsports Park.

The de Ferran Motorsports Acura driving duo nearly upset the potent Penske Porsches and the factory Audi prototype sports cars in their initial ALMS performance a year ago. De Ferran just missed the overall pole position on Saturday, and he and Pagenaud led late on Sunday in the two-hour, 45-minute contest before a pit stop relegated the pair to third overall.

Now, de Ferran and Pagenaud return to Miller Motorsports Park's outstanding 3.06-mile road circuit on Sunday, May 17, in an effort to record another overall American Le Mans Series victory following their impressive win on April 18 through the streets of Long Beach, Calif. The triumph marked the team's first overall title after just missing out last year in three different races.

The de Ferran team brings its new No. 66 XM Satellite Radio Acura ARX-02a sports car to Utah to renew its rivalry with the Patron Highcroft Racing team and its driving pair of David Brabham and Scott Sharp, winner of the Acura Sports Car Challenge in the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla. Driving No. 9 Patron Highcroft Acura ARX-02a, Brabham and Sharp are the current LMP1 class point leaders and recorded four LMP2 class wins in 2008. Sharp is competing in the 2009 Indy 500 later this month, too.

After two straight street races, the two Acura LMP1 teams are anxious to hit the wide-open spaces of the Miller Motorsports Park for a true wheel-to-wheel shootout with their latest Acura cars.

Last weekend, Pagenaud won the pole and race at the Le Mans Series event at Spa, Belgium, and Sharp qualified the Patron Honda Dallara in the May 24 Indy 500 field.

The revolutionary Acura ARX-02a prototype sports cars, campaigned by de Ferran Motorsports and Patron Highcroft Racing, have received huge attention for racing enthusiasts and media members. Featuring one of the most unique designs ever in sports-car racing, the new LMP1 Acuras are considered the favorites to win the overall title on Sunday's ALMS race when the green flag drops at 2:15 p.m. [MDT].

If the two LMP1 Acura cars have trouble at Miller Motorsports Park, a third Acura could be right in the mix for the overall win.

The Lowe's Fernandez Acura pair of Adrian Fernandez and Luis Diaz have been undefeated in the LMP2 division so far in 2009 with their potent No. 15 Lowe's Acura ARX-01b sports car. Fernandez and Diaz, two of Mexico's most heralded racers, have taken LMP2 wins at Sebring, St. Petersburg and Long Beach. But overall, the Lowe's team has been fourth, second and third.

The Lowe's team's first priority to keep their current LMP2 point lead against the two factory Mazda cars from Dyson Racing.

The Larry H. Miller Utah Grand Prix will be televised on a tape-delay basis on Sunday, May 17, at 10 p.m. [EDT] on SPEED-TV.

ACURA QUOTES:

GIL de FERRAN (#66 XM Radio de Ferran Acura ARX-02a): "I will admit that it feels much better coming to Utah this time. Last year, our team was is a real scramble to getting everything ready for our race. You have to question yourself about many things when you have a new team. But it was very exciting to get on the podium in our first race and nearly win it. This time we feel much more prepared and we are coming off our first win. So, the XM Radio Acura will be ready to go. I feel we have some unfinished business at the Miller facility after last year's race."

SIMON PAGENAUD (#66 XM Radio de Ferran Acura ARX-02a): "I am anxious to get to the Utah event. Last year was exciting for our new team after a shot at winning in the team's debut. The new Acura LMP1 is a magnificent machine. It's one of the most advanced racing cars ever built. So, it is so fun to drive. But we know that David [Brabham] and Scott [Sharp] will give us a hard run for the win. It should be another hard-fought race."

DAVID BRABHAM (#9 Patron Highcroft Racing Acura ARX-02a): "The Long Beach race was a tough one to lose. We had a pit stop penalty that didn't look right to the team. But we have to move on and concentrate on the Utah race. The new Acura should be very fast at the Miller Motorsports Park. The car is very revolutionary in many regards, and we believe we can put the car back in victory lane. Scott will be coming from Indy and the 500 qualifying. I know he will be fired up to win the race."

SCOTT SHARP (#9 Patron Highcroft Racing Acura ARX-02a): "This month is pretty busy for me with the Patron Honda at the Indy 500 and the Patron Highcroft Acura at the Utah event. But we have a solid foundation with our Acura sports car program. I expect Brabs and I to be right in contention for the victory. After the misfortune at Long Beach, we're ready."

ADRIAN FERNANDEZ (#15 Lowe's Fernandez Acura ARX-01b): "It has be thrilling to win three consecutive races so far. We came so close winning races the past two years that it feels good to put everything into place. Winning is our goal for every race, and achieved gives the team a lot of confidence going to the Utah race. But we also know we can't take things for granted. The Dyson Racing Mazda cars are new and fast. We have to stay focused if we want to continue this run."

LUIS DIAZ (#15 Lowe's Fernandez Acura ARX-01b): "Our Lowe's Acura has been prepared so well this year. It is a credit to Adrian, Tom Anderson [co-owner with Fernandez] and the entire Lowe's team. It has been very fun to win the first third races this year. Our strategy has been excellent and our Acura car is very fast. For a driver, you always want to have a strong car. And, this year, the Lowe's Acura has been the best."

-credit: acura motorsports

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About this article
Series ALMS
Drivers David Brabham , Gil de Ferran , Adrian Fernandez , Luis Diaz , Tom Anderson , Simon Pagenaud
Teams Dyson Racing