Two-Time Motegi Winner FernÃ¡ndez Returns with Honda Power Nakanoâ€™s Home Circuit is First Familiar Track on 2001 Schedule AdriÃ¡n FernÃ¡ndez, Owner/Driver -- ...
Two-Time Motegi Winner Fernández Returns with Honda Power
Nakano’s Home Circuit is First Familiar Track on 2001 Schedule
Adrián Fernández, Owner/Driver -- #51 Tecate/Quaker State/Telmex Honda/Reynard/Firestone:
o Claimed back-to-back wins at Motegi in 1998 and 1999
o Finished 10th last year
o Qualified second in 1998, fourth in 1999 and 15th in 2000
On Motegi: “Motegi is one of the nicest race tracks that we compete on. We are very excited to go back to Japan, especially after a good performance in Nazareth. Hopefully we can build up our momentum. This is a track that we know, and which we have been very successful. We are bringing our own luck this year with Shinji and also Honda, who I will be with for the first time since I’ve been competing in Japan. I think we will be very competitive.”
On the home race for Nakano: “It will be a very important race for Shinji, and he’s come a long way. Even though the results aren’t there yet, we can see that the improvement on Shinji’s side is tremendous compared to last year. Hopefully we can put everything together for the team this weekend and start scoring some valuable points in the championship.”
On visiting Japan: “Japan is a place I really enjoy. I have made a lot of friends there the past few years. I love Tokyo and the sights. I would always spend some time either before or after the race there. This year I am planning to spend a few days after the race, and then head to Monaco for the Formula One race.”
FAST FACTS: Will be making his 129th career Champ Car start…has seven career Champ Car wins…is coming off a career-best season with a second-place finish in the championship…only owner/driver in the current CART field…recorded last Champ Car win five races ago in Australia…led the series in both laps and miles completed in 2000, en route to recording 17 points-paying finishes…fifth most-winning driver in the current CART field.
Shinji Nakano, #52 Avex/Alpine Honda/Reynard/Firestone:
o Finished 14th at Motegi last year after starting 11th
On Motegi: “This is the first time this year that I know the track. [Nakano missed Nazareth and Long Beach last season while recovering from a testing accident at Milwaukee.] Of course, Japan is my country and my family is there, my friends are there and all of my fans are there. This weekend is really, really important for me and also for Honda. I want to show them that ‘I am here.’”
On his oval confidence: “The race at Nazareth last weekend really helped my confidence on the ovals. Last year, after [the crash at] Milwaukee, I didn’t have any good races on the oval tracks. Qualifying fifth at Texas and running in second position for a few laps at Nazareth was very exciting for me. Last weekend really helped me to get ready for Motegi. I learned a lot of things, including how to save fuel on the ovals. Now I just have to put everything together this weekend.”
How frustrated were you at Nazareth having to pit while running competitively in second position: “A lot. It was a big time. The strategy in the series is very important – sometimes good, sometimes bad. You never know. Maybe in the next race, I will have luck like [race winner] Scott Dixon had. I think it was the right strategy for me, and the team did a good job. I would have liked to continue racing at the front, but it will come. We have to keep working on it, but it will come. I believe it.”
FAST FACTS: Will be making his 21st career Champ Car start…is in his sophomore season of Champ Car competition with a pair of top-10 finishes to his credit…has the benefit of a teammate for the first time in his CART career…hails from Formula One with 33 F1 starts and nine top-10 finishes in two years of competition.