IRL: Fernandez moves to the IndyCar Series

IRL: Fernandez moves to the IndyCar Series

The Indy Racing League and IndyCar Series gained a valuable new competitor today with Fernandez Racing's ...

The Indy Racing League and IndyCar Series gained a valuable new competitor today with Fernandez Racing's #5 Panoz G Force/Honda entry in the remaining 15 events of the 2004 campaign for team co-owner Adrian Fernandez.

Adrian Fernandez.
Photo by David Reininger.
"Our team has been going separate ways the last two years; we had concerns [as a team] about having two cars in separate series," Fernandez explained tonight, just two days after showing his apparent entry at the Champ Car World Series Season Premiere in Long Beach, CA.

"Obviously this is a big move for us particularly when you factor in the friendships and relationships that have developed over many years, for not only myself but everyone at Fernandez Racing," the Mexican ace noted. "I will always be thankful for my years in Champ Car racing, where they have taken me in my career and for the tremendous support of the fans along the way."

Long-time supporters Quaker State, Telmex, Tecate and Aceros Vilag are coming with Fernandez Racing to the Indy Racing League. "We have reviewed a lot of things in the past few days and had to take a hard look at what we know at this point in time, to determine what is best for our sponsors and the future of Fernandez Racing.

Even though the League has no races on Mexican soil, Fernandez said it was "in the best interest of the team and sponsors" to enter the Indy Racing League. Like many, he is a firm believer that one series benefits North American open wheel racing.

Super Aguri Fernandez Racing has been the IRL arm of the Indianapolis-based team, formed by Fernandez and partner Tom Anderson in 2002 with Formula One veteran Aguri Suzuki. Last season Super Aguri Fernandez Racing ran Roger Yasukawa and this year has rookie Kosuke Matsuura driving the #55 Panasonic/ARTA Panoz G Force/Honda.

Anderson, who serves as managing director agreed. "We are extremely excited to once again have our team's efforts focused on one championship which includes the Indianapolis 500.

"This is a tremendous step reuniting our great sponsors from Japan and Mexico. We sincerely appreciate the effort all of them have put forth in order to make this possible," he said. "We sincerely appreciate the effort all of them have put forth in order to make this possible."

Fernandez and Anderson fully understand the difficulty in resituating their resources in time for their first start as a fulltime IRL team next week, in the Indy 200Copper World Classic at Phoenix International Raceway.

"It is an understatement to say we have a lot of work to do in the next 11 days," Fernandez admitted. "I'm sure there will be challenges but we have a very experienced team in both Fernandez Racing and Super Aguri Fernandez Racing and will be able to help each other."

The two Fernandez teams just moved into new facilities in north Indianapolis that had been purpose-built for them. In rolling stock right now, they have a primary car for each driver and one spare Panoz G Force/Honda car available. "It will definitely be an asset to run a two- car team and be able to build off each other," Fernandez remarked.

Of course he's also "looking forward to seeing old friends next week at Phoenix - Tony [Kanaan], Dario [Franchitti], Helio [Castroneves], Bryan [Herta], Darren [Manning], Michael [Andretti].

"I am also looking forward to returning to Motegi next month, where I have won twice (in Ford-powered cars), and also to the month of May and the Indy 500. We are hitting the ground running and I know we will have a lot of support along the way."

Fernandez said he'd been thinking of making the change for quite a while, and simply felt, at this time the best interests of his team merited making the leap from Champ Cars to Indy cars. "I saw both aspects," and felt this was the best way to benefit Fernandez Racing.

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Series INDYCAR