CHAMPCAR/CART: Mexico City: Fernandez to miss season finale

Fernandez to miss CART season finale; Luis Diaz to substitute in Gran Premio Telmex-Gigante. MEXICO CITY (November 14, 2002) -- Adrian Fernandez did not receive the news that he had been hoping for today as Dr. Terry Trammell, CART's Chief ...

Fernandez to miss CART season finale; Luis Diaz to substitute in Gran Premio Telmex-Gigante.

MEXICO CITY (November 14, 2002) -- Adrian Fernandez did not receive the news that he had been hoping for today as Dr. Terry Trammell, CART's Chief Orthopedic Consultant, confirmed that changes revealed in a recent CT scan will cause Fernandez to miss the CART FedEx Championship Series season finale - the Gran Premio Telmex-Gigante Grand Prix presented by Banamex/Visa - in Mexico City this weekend.

Fernandez underwent an additional CT scan in Phoenix on Monday (November 11) on two compression fractures of the second and third thoracic vertebrae resulting from a multi-car incident at the start of the Honda Indy 300 in Surfers Paradise, Australia, on October 27.

Dr. Trammell reviewed the results, and issued the following statement:

"Adrian sustained a stable compression fracture of T2 and T3 at the event in Surfers Paradise, Australia. Treatment for this fracture was physical therapy, exercise and the abstinence from collusion sports, i.e. racing. The progress of his recovery has been closely monitored over the past two weeks. A repeat CT scan was obtained Monday to determine the condition of his fractures. The scan revealed a very small change in the alignment of his fractures that consisted of further compression of the T2 fracture.

"As a result of the changes noted on this recent scan, I have advised Adrian that if he were to compete in the event this weekend, it would be with increased risk of a more catastrophic injury were he to be involved in a shunt of similar severity to that which occurred in Australia. We have reached a mutual decision that the potential risk of further injury precludes his driving this weekend.

"In order for Adrian to return safely to racing without increased risk, it will take three months from the time that he was injured. Therefore, he will not be able to drive during that period of time."

For Fernandez, the news was devastating.

"To say that I am shocked would be an understatement," said Fernandez. "I looked at the CT scan as a formality, just a routine procedure, and fully expected to be driving this weekend. My heart is very heavy right now.

"After speaking with Dr. Trammell and understanding what the possible consequences are if I were to drive this weekend, I agree that the risk is just too great. I am deeply disappointed for everyone - our sponsors, fans, my family and friends and the team. The dream of racing here in my hometown will have to wait another year."

Luis Diaz will be making his Champ Car debut this weekend as he takes over driving duties of the #51 Tecate/Quaker State/Telmex Honda/Lola/Bridgestone from Fernandez. In preparation for his role as the potential replacement driver for Fernandez, Diaz completed a one-day test with Fernandez Racing on November 5 at Firebird International Raceway in Chandler, Arizona.

"Obviously this is a big step for Luis this weekend but I was very impressed with his abilities and attitude at our recent test," said Fernandez. "I believe he will do a good job for us, and I will be there to help him as much as I can."

Diaz, 24, of Mexico City, finished fourth in the CART Toyota Atlantic championship this season. The former Formula Mexico Champion and Mexican Formula 3 Rookie of the Year posted two pole positions, including pole at the season-opening race in Monterrey, Mexico, and claimed two wins at Portland and Road America driving the Telmex/Quaker State-sponsored Swift for Dorricott Racing.

"While I feel honored to be selected to fill in for Adrian at this most important race, I am also very saddened by the circumstances," said Diaz. "I know how much this race means to Adrian. For me, I will try to focus on the task at hand and take things one step at a time. Obviously I have a lot to learn. I will do my best."

In addition to his recent test, Diaz also spent time with Fernandez Racing during the Fontana race weekend.

"First of all, I am extremely disappointed that Adrian is not able to make the race this weekend, the biggest CART event of the season for Fernandez Racing," said Tom Anderson, Fernandez Racing Co-Owner and Managing Director. "While all of us are extremely disappointed, we understand that Adrian's health is of the utmost importance. We look forward to him driving for many years to come, and look forward to starting again after the winter vacation when he has been medically released.

"I was very impressed with Luis at his Phoenix test, and I know that he will do a splendid job for Fernandez Racing this weekend. I understand that there is a tremendous amount of pressure for a new driver to start out in his home country. We will do all we can to accelerate his learning curve this weekend, and I am sure we will have a fine result on raceday."

-fr-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Adrian Fernandez , Luis Diaz , Tom Anderson