Wet and Wild Conditions Take Bite Out of Lowe's Fernandez Racing's Fortunes at Watkins Glen Lowe's Fernandez Racing drivers Adrian Fernandez and Mario Haberfeld each battled their way into the top five during today's Grand American Rolex Series'...
Wet and Wild Conditions Take Bite Out of Lowe's Fernandez Racing's Fortunes at Watkins Glen
Lowe's Fernandez Racing drivers Adrian Fernandez and Mario Haberfeld each battled their way into the top five during today's Grand American Rolex Series' Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen, but a persistent drizzle that made tire selection a six-hour-long guessing game for all competitors today led to a collision that took the No. 12 Lowe's Fernandez Racing Pontiac Riley team out of contention by the race's midpoint.
Fernandez started ninth on a grid determined by the team point standings after Friday qualifying was cancelled, and drove a strong opening two stints on racing slicks before turning the car over to Haberfeld in fifth place on Lap 38 of today's 154-lap event around the 3.4-mile Watkins Glen International Raceway road circuit. Haberfeld began his stint on rain tires as conditions became increasingly wet, weathered a brief off-course excursion and ensuing change of the Lowe's car's nose, was the first driver among the leaders to call for a change back to racing slicks on Lap 54, and had the Lowe's car back in fifth place before a Lap-69 caution period. Shortly after the race restarted on Lap 76, Haberfeld ran in close quarters with the No. 23 Porsche around the sweeping right-hand first turn. Still running side-by-side down the short chute, the Porsche and Haberfeld drifted toward slick curbing on the left. Haberfeld lost traction and spun into a guardrail after contacting the curbing, damaging the right-front steering arm. After repairs were made in the garage, Haberfeld resumed in 22nd place, eight laps down, among the Daytona Prototype-class cars, and that was where the Lowe's Pontiac finished some 2-1/2 hours later with Fernandez driving the final 37 laps.
Next up for the Rolex Series competitors is the June 22 Emco Gears Classic at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
Adrian Fernandez: "The conditions were really tough today because we started with a pretty dry track, but then it went back and forth from wet to dry conditions, and that makes it very tough to know how to play your tire strategy. It was that way for everybody. I'm disappointed, obviously, that it was not a good points day for us after having such a strong car. We worked our way into the top five twice today after the Lowe's car was one of the fastest ones in practice all day Friday. It was a day full of risks for everyone, and maybe being on slicks in that situation (Lap-77 accident) wasn't the best call, but we had to do what we had to do. It's a shame we ended up in the guardrail. That cost us too many laps. From there, it was a matter of getting the most points we could without ruining anyone else's race. The car looks like it's been through a war. We did our best. On the positive side, I think we are stronger as a team than ever. I can't wait to get to Mid-Ohio."
Mario Haberfeld: "It's not the greatest feeling in the world to be in the car when the bad stuff happens, whether it's your fault or not. Adrian did a great job at the start. He got us into the top five before he gave the car over to me. It was a good call to go out on rain tires at the beginning of my stint. We also made a good call to go back to slicks. We were one of the first ones to do that, so we gained a lot of positions as a result. The car was great at that point, and it looked like we had a strong car to take us to the finish. On the accident, the 23 car got inside of me going into Turn One, and he kind of forced me over onto the curbing. I knew that was going to be a problem, and the car just spun and went sideways into the guardrail. That was it for our chances today. It's a shame because we really had a good car. When the conditions are the way they are today, no one really knows how they are going to end up, even if they have a great car. I guess it just wasn't meant to be our day."