Phoenix: Fernandez Racing race report

Lowe's Fernandez Racing Captures First Top-Five Finish The Lowe's Fernandez Racing Pontiac Riley followed up Friday night's qualifying race victory with its first top-five finish of the season during last night's Grand American Rolex Series ...

Lowe's Fernandez Racing Captures First Top-Five Finish

The Lowe's Fernandez Racing Pontiac Riley followed up Friday night's qualifying race victory with its first top-five finish of the season during last night's Grand American Rolex Series Gainsco Grand Prix on the 1.51-mile road circuit at Phoenix International Raceway.

Adrian Fernandez earned the pole position for the feature event by virtue of his wire-to-wire victory Friday night, and came within 11 laps of at least second place tonight before getting punted from behind on Lap 138 of the 149-lap race distance. While running second, Fernandez and the Daytona Prototype-class No. 12 Lowe's Fernandez Racing Pontiac Riley made a clean, routine pass of a slower GT-class competitor. Fourth-place Michael McDowell tried to do the same, but he ran out of room to slow his car and got into the back of the Lowe's Racing machine. The two cars spun and quickly recovered, but Fernandez fell all the way back to fifth place with 11 laps to go. Co-driver Mario Haberfeld started the race and stayed well ahead of fellow front-row starter Luis Diaz for the first seven laps before catching up to the rear of the pack of the GT-class competitors. Diaz was able to get by Haberfeld on Lap 8 as the Lowe's Fernandez driver was balked by the GT-class pack. Haberfeld handed the car over to Fernandez during the first of two pit stops of the night under yellow on Lap 33. Fernandez ran in the top three the rest of the way until the Lap-138 incident.

Next up for the Grand American Rolex Series competitors is the annual six-hour race June 3 at Watkins Glen, N.Y.

Adrian Fernandez: "It's a shame what happened because we could have had our first podium finish. There was nothing I could do. All I know is I got by the GT car and then got hit from behind and spun around. That was it for our chance at the podium. It was still a good weekend for us. We got our first win last night in the qualifying race. We should have left here with a podium finish. I would have loved to see if I could catch (eventual race-winner Scott) Pruett, but the (lapped) 99 car stayed in between us and never let me by for about the last 40 laps before I got spun. I don't think that's right, but it's up to the officials what they want to do there. It was a good weekend for us in the points. If we can leave here feeling disappointed about finishing fifth, that means we're getting better and better all the time."

Mario Haberfeld: "I got a good start and had a good first several laps. I had a good gap to (second-place Luis) Diaz behind me until we caught the GT traffic. Four GTs bunched up in front of me in Turn Three, and Diaz passed me. It was a good move on his part. I still have to get used to this kind of racing with cars on the track that are 10 seconds (per lap) slower. Looking at the bright side, even though Adrian got punted and we didn't finish second like we should have, we scored a lot of points yesterday and this was still our best finish of the season."

-fr

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Mario Haberfeld , Adrian Fernandez , Luis Diaz , Michael McDowell