Long Beach: Fernandez Racing preview

Fernandez and Haberfeld Ready for Streets of Long Beach Lowe's Fernandez Racing prepares for its fourth race on the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series tour this weekend with the inaugural Grand American Challenge of Long Beach, part of the...

Fernandez and Haberfeld Ready for Streets of Long Beach

Lowe's Fernandez Racing prepares for its fourth race on the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series tour this weekend with the inaugural Grand American Challenge of Long Beach, part of the 32nd annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. Adrian Fernandez and Mario Haberfeld will pilot the No. 12 Lowe's Fernandez Racing Pontiac Riley in Saturday night's 90-minute event on the 1.968-mile temporary circuit.

Both Fernandez and Haberfeld have experience on the challenging street circuit. Fernandez, who made his career debut in the CART series at Long Beach in 1993, is a veteran of 11 open-wheel starts at Long Beach and finished second in his last appearance on the city streets in 2003. Haberfeld holds a pair of ninth-place finishes in two career starts, the last in 2004.

Lowe's Fernandez Racing made its debut in the Rolex 24 At Daytona where it climbed as high as third before overheating problems ended a promising run. In Mexico City, the duo started fourth and finished seventh. The team finished 14 th at Homestead after falling down a lap during a driver switch on pit lane.

ADRIAN FERNANDEZ ON RACING IN LONG BEACH: "Long Beach has always been a place that feels like a home track to me, and it holds a lot of special memories. I have been racing there for many, many years starting with Indy Lights [in 1992] . I have seen its transformation -- the modification of the track and growth of the town. It is a happening place, a happening town. This has become a very famous race and everyone goes there to have a good time. I remember the strong support from the fans that I enjoyed in Long Beach over the years, and it will be nice to be back to see everyone. The atmosphere surrounding this event is just tremendous."

FERNANDEZ ON RACING THE DAYTONA PROTOTYPES: "It will be fun to race these cars in Long Beach. It should be exciting. I think racing there will be easier in these (Daytona Prototype) cars compared to open-wheel cars because, on these tight street circuits, our cars are a bit more forgiving. You can force the issue easier, but you still have to make sure your equipment is there at the end."

MARIO HABERFELD ON LONG BEACH: "I think Long Beach is one of the best street circuits in America. I raced there twice in Champ Car in 2003 and 2004. There is a lot of excitement. It is a big event that has great attendance. The track has very long straights for a street circuit and that makes it interesting. It is one street circuit where you can actually overtake. With only the Daytona Prototypes racing there, it should be a very exciting race. It will take a little bit of luck out of the equation on who will go to victory lane because at some races, it just depends on where you get the (GT) traffic. I'm looking forward to a good race."

HABERFELD ON STRATEGY IN A 90-MINUTE RACE: "Nowadays the cars are pretty reliable so you are pushing all the time. Obviously, you don't want to crash and you have to be a bit careful at the beginning of the race. As for our strategy in driving in a 90-minute race [with a required pit stop and driver change], I'm not sure how long my stint will be. You want to get the driver change as early as possible. I think it is more likely that Adrian will drive more. That is what we are planning right now."

ABOUT THE DRIVERS

* Fernandez, 42, a Mexico City native who now resides in Paradise Valley, Ariz., made his mark as an open-wheel star through a 12-year career at the top levels of the sport. In 2005, he branched out to NASCAR running six races with Hendrick Motorsports in the Busch Series.

* Haberfeld, 29, a native of Sao Paulo, Brazil, and current resident of Key Biscayne, Fla., is a former British Formula 3 champion, who made his U.S. racing debut in the Champ Car World Series contesting the 2003 and 2004 seasons.

TEAM

* Fernandez Racing was formed in 2000 by Fernandez and motorsports veteran Tom Anderson. The team has grown to encompass the Super Aguri Fernandez Racing and Delphi Fernandez Racing teams, which currently contest the IndyCar Series with drivers Kosuke Matsuura and Scott Sharp respectively. Lowe's Fernandez Racing is based at the Fernandez Racing headquarters in Indianapolis, Ind. Anderson oversees the program as managing director, with Steve Miller as team manager, Mike Sales as chief mechanic and John Ward as race engineer.

* Miller has been involved in motorsports for over 20 years in a variety of roles from mechanic to engineer and team director, and most recently served as general manager for Fernandez Racing. Formerly based in Mexico for eight years, Miller speaks fluent Spanish.

* Sales has spent the past four years at Fernandez Racing in both chief mechanic and team manager roles and, as a veteran of over 33 years in the sport, brings valued racing experience.

* Ward's distinguished career as a race and design engineer dates back to the mid '70s, and he most recently served as race engineer with Fernandez Racing in the IndyCar Series. His impressive roster of accomplishments include the design of a Daytona 24-Hour and Sebring 12-Hour race-winning chassis.

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Mario Haberfeld , Scott Sharp , Adrian Fernandez , Tom Anderson , Kosuke Matsuura , Steve Miller
Teams Hendrick Motorsports