CHAMPCAR/CART: Denver: Fernandez Racing preview

Fernandez has high hopes in mile high city The Champ Car World Series takes to the streets of the Mile High City this weekend for the Centrix Financial Grand Prix of Denver. The nine-turn temporary street circuit surrounding Denver's Pepsi ...

Fernandez has high hopes in mile high city

The Champ Car World Series takes to the streets of the Mile High City this weekend for the Centrix Financial Grand Prix of Denver. The nine-turn temporary street circuit surrounding Denver's Pepsi Center will host the 15th round of competition in the 19-race series, a pivotal point in the battle for position within the championship standings.

Adrian Fernandez made a successful debut on the downtown street course last year, claiming the provisional pole and starting second -- his career-best street course starting position to date. Fernandez went on to finish fourth in the race.

The Centrix Financial Grand Prix of Denver will be broadcast live on Fox Sports en Espanol at 3:00 pm ET this Sunday, and shown on Speed Channel at 9:30 pm ET with a pre-race show beginning at 9:00 pm.

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

Will be making his 175th Champ Car career start Started second at Denver last year and finished fourth Career-best street course starting position to date was second at Denver last year Two of his eight career wins were on street circuits -- Toronto in 1996 and Australia in 2000 Currently sits eighth in the championship with 82 points Claimed two podiums to date in 2003 -- first in Portland and second in Long Beach Best 2003 street course start was third in St. Petersburg; best finish was second in Long Beach

"We had a very good car here last year, and I feel we will be very competitive this weekend. Denver is a great city and this is an important market for our team and the series. We have a lot of fans here and we are looking forward to putting on a good show for them. The track is challenging and, like any street circuit, qualifying is important. I think the new single-car qualifying procedure for this race is good because the track is so tight and the corners are one right after another. The track was very slippery last year and if you got off line you lost everything. We have been strong on the street circuits this year, and I am looking forward to the race."

FAST FACTS:

Recorded eight top-10 finishes in 14 rounds of 2003 competition to date-- has qualified seventh or better in seven races to date, claiming his best starting position of third in St. Petersburg and Portland-- has finished over 51 percent of his 54 Champ Car career street course starts in the top 10 and has eight street course podiums-- 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 ninth 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 nine-turn, 1.647-mile street circuit features a long, sweeping curve back straight and a short front straight. Ferandez Racing Race Engineer Chris Finch estimates top speeds of 185 - 187 mph with minimum cornering speeds in the 50 to 55 mph range. Drivers will shift 24 times per lap throughout the course of the 106-lap race, pulling a maximum G-force load of 2.3. The maximum lap interval for pit stops is set at 32 laps, requiring a minimum of three stops.

Denver's higher altitude and thinner air could present braking and cooling problems, and drivers will have to exercise patience in order not to overuse these systems. As Finch notes, the variety of challenges will make for an interesting weekend: "Denver is a slick and bumpy street circuit. All corners, except one, have a minimum speed of 50-55 mph with top speed on the back straight at 185-187 mph. Therefore, we will need to balance the car's low speed cornering characteristics to its top speed performance.

"Denver is at an altitude where the barometric pressure is reduced from 29.92 in Hg at sea level to 25.00 in Hg. Therefore, consideration must be made to engine cooling and brake cooling. This change will direct emphasis on the car's mechanical grip because the aerodynamic performance is degraded from the altitude change."

New Qualifying Procedures

Single-car qualifying will go into effect for the race this weekend. Friday's provisional qualifying will be a one-hour session with the qualifying order based on the reverse order of the combined practice times. Saturday's final qualifying session order will be the reverse order of Friday's provisional qualifying results. Drivers will be given a maximum of five laps for their qualifying run -- an untimed out-lap, a maximum of three timed laps, and an untimed in-lap. Friday's provisional polesitter will earn a championship point and is guaranteed a front row starting position.

Around Town

Adrian Fernandez will be making an appearance at the Chili Pepper Restaurant this Thursday for an autograph session from 6:30 pm to 7:30 pm. The Labatt/Tecate promotion, which also features the Tecate Girls, a show car and a live radio remote with Univision (Tri-Color), is located two miles from the race circuit at 2150 Bryant Street.

Trackside

Adrian Fernandez will team with fellow countrymen Michel Jourdain Jr., Mario Dominguez and Rodolfo Lavin for a Denver-based Four Amigos promotion. Four grand prize winners and their guests from a local radio campaign with join the quartet for breakfast on Friday at 8:00 am at the CART Business Unit located in the Champ Car Paddock. The winners will also receive team gear and be honorary pit crew members for the day.

Broadcast on Speed Channel live beginning at 3:30 pm ET.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Adrian Fernandez , Mario Dominguez , Rodolfo Lavin , Tom Anderson , Michel Jourdain