CHAMPCAR/CART: Cleveland: Fernandez Racing preview

Fernandez Hopes to Add His Own Fireworks in Cleveland Fresh off his first win as an owner/driver two weeks ago in Portland, Adrian Fernandez and his Fernandez Racing team are carrying a wave of momentum into the US Bank Presents the Cleveland ...

Fernandez Hopes to Add His Own Fireworks in Cleveland

Fresh off his first win as an owner/driver two weeks ago in Portland, Adrian Fernandez and his Fernandez Racing team are carrying a wave of momentum into the US Bank Presents the Cleveland Grand Prix this weekend. Fernandez is looking to challenge for the podium once again, and bring his own brand of sparkle to Fourth of July weekend activities surrounding Round Nine of the Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford.

The Saturday evening event marks the midpoint of the 2003 season, and the second night feature on the 19-race tour. Fernandez, who is currently fifth in the championship standings, will be chasing valuable points this weekend: "To be honest, I feel like a weight has been lifted from my shoulders [with our win in Portland]. We have the confidence now that comes with winning and that will help to carry us forward."

This is the 22nd year that Champ Cars will power along the 2.106-mile temporary road course at Burke Lakefront Airport dubbed "The Roar by the Shore". The race will be broadcast live on Fox Sports en Espanol beginning at 8:30 pm ET on Saturday, and aired on CBS at 3:30 ET Sunday.

Adrian Fernandez, Owner/Driver -- #51 Tecate/Quaker State/Telmex Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone:

* Claimed his first win as an owner/driver in Portland two weeks ago
* Currently sits fifth in the championship point standings with 63 points
* Will be making his 10th Champ Car appearance in Cleveland
* Best start at Cleveland was second in 2001; best finish was fifth in 1998
* Started 17th last year and finished 11th after struggling all weekend with setup issues

"It is going to be exciting to race at night in Cleveland. I am looking forward to it. It will be a new adventure for everyone. The team is also very excited for our next race. Winning in Portland has helped the motivation of the team tremendously, and I think all of us will be on top of our game. That doesn't mean that we are going to go there and just dominate; as a group we are going to be a lot stronger. If we have downs, I feel we will be able to recover a lot quicker and react quicker throughout the weekend so we can be competitive."

FAST FACTS: Will be making his169th Champ Car career start-- recorded five top-seven finishes in eight rounds of 2003 competition to date - second at Long Beach, fourth in Monterrey, Mexico, sixth in Milwaukee, seventh at Laguna Seca and first in Portland-- has qualified seventh or better in all but one race to date [Germany], claiming his best starting position of third in St. Petersburg and Portland-- has finished over 50 percent of his 52 Champ Car career road course starts in the top 10-- career best road course finishes were wins at Portland two weeks ago and at Mid-Ohio in 1998; career best road course start was pole at Monterrey, Mexico, in 2002-- enters his 11th season of Champ Car competition with eight career wins and three pole positions-- 40 years old from Mexico City-- formed Fernandez Racing in the fall of 2000 with Tom Anderson-- only competing owner/driver in the series-- is the third most-winning driver in the current Champ Car field-- ranked 10th in CART all-time career starts-- has 21 Champ Car career podiums to his credit-- last win was at Portland on June 22-- last pole position was at Milwaukee in 2002.

Track Talk
The 10-turn "Roar by the Shore" course is unique. It is the only two-mile road circuit in the US where fans can view the entire track from their grandstand seats. The addition of Musco Lighting to enable the second night race on the 2003 Champ Car World Series schedule represents the world's largest outdoor lighting project.

The track itself provides plenty of challenges. Just ask Fernandez. After struggling with setup problems throughout the weekend last year, Fernandez remarked that it was probably the worst race of his career. The circuit is wide offering drivers a variety of lines as they contend with the grip level afforded by the airport runways as well as the bumpiness of the circuit itself.

Fernandez Racing Race Engineer David Watson, who was not witness to the team's struggles last year at Cleveland, notes that this is the least smooth race track the Champ Cars run on all year: "Last year was a disaster, so we need to stay focused on our gains so far this year. As usual, our hopes are high and we are aiming for another podium position. Our starting setup will be very similar to our final Portland setup with a few gear and ride height changes to suit the Cleveland circuit. This is a special track that really tests how good your shock package is. This is our first night race here, so fans can look forward to entertaining sparks and hot brake discs glowing in the dark!"

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Adrian Fernandez , Tom Anderson