Lowe's Fernandez Racing Ready to Build on Impressive ALMS Debut The American Le Mans Series (ALMS) will make its first appearance on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla., this weekend in a double-header of racing action featuring the ALMS Acura...
Lowe's Fernandez Racing Ready to Build on Impressive ALMS Debut
The American Le Mans Series (ALMS) will make its first appearance on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla., this weekend in a double-header of racing action featuring the ALMS Acura Sports Car Challenge of St. Petersburg on Saturday and the IndyCar Series' Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on Sunday.
Following an impressive debut in ALMS competition two weeks ago, the Lowe's Fernandez Racing driving duo of Adrian Fernandez and Luis Diaz are ready to return to action. Contesting one of North America's premier endurance races -- the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring -- the pair brought the #15 Lowe's Acura Lola home to a second-place finish in LMP2 class competition and a third-place result overall.
The first of four temporary street circuit events on the 2007 ALMS calendar, the challenging 1.8-mile, 14-turn waterfront track is not foreign territory to Adrian Fernandez. Fernandez qualified third at St. Petersburg for the inaugural Champ Car race in 2003 but was eliminated by contact on the tight circuit during a late-race restart.
* Fernandez has made one career start at St. Petersburg [Champ Car -- 2003]
* Diaz has never competed at St. Petersburg; his last temporary street circuit race was Long Beach in 2006 where he and co-driver Scott Pruett won from the pole position
* Fernandez and Diaz currently sit second in the ALMS LMP2 class point standings
* The team's entry in ALMS competition follows a successful debut in sports car competition for Lowe's Fernandez Racing, which was established in 2006
* Fernandez entered sports car competition last year after a successful 12-year career at the top levels of open-wheel racing; he claimed an overall race win, qualifying race win and five top-five finishes in all in Grand-Am competition
* Diaz, voted "Driver of the Year" in Mexico in 2006, brings the most sports car experience to the team with eight wins in three years of competition and the 2006 team championship in Grand-Am competition
* Long-time friends who were competitors last season, Fernandez and Diaz are finally paired as teammates -- it is a partnership that almost came to fruition in 2002 when Diaz substituted for an injured Fernandez in the Mexico City Champ Car race and was later named as the team's official test driver
FERNANDEZ ON ST. PETERSBURG: "I competed at St. Petersburg in 2003, and remember thinking what a great setting this was for a race. I know the event has grown a lot since then and I'm really looking forward to returning there this weekend. The circuit is definitely challenging -- tight but fast as well. Traffic will be a factor in qualifying and the race."
FERNANDEZ ON EXPECTATIONS FOR THE WEEKEND: "This track is not as bumpy as Sebring and I think that will suit our car. This will be a flat-out sprint race and we need to find the most speed that we can. Hopefully, the confusion we had in Sebring of not being able to match our earlier pace in pre-season testing will be cleared up and we will be on pace with the other Acuras and the Porsches. I am confident with our pit stops and I know the track so I can give more time to help Luis with the track. I think we will be in good shape."
DIAZ ON HIS FIRST CAREER START AT ST. PETERSBURG: "I really like the street circuits so I am definitely looking forward to this weekend. I have heard so many good things about this event -- the track, the fans, the atmosphere. I will be a 'rookie' at several races this year, and this is one of them but Adrian has raced here before and that will be a big help to me. The ALMS is completely different from the sports car racing that I have done, but I learned so much in Sebring. I am excited and I think we will be in a position to challenge for a good result this weekend."
DIAZ ON THE TEAM'S START TO THE SEASON: "To finish an endurance event like Sebring with a good result and so few problems in the race really says a lot about our program. Now we need to keep building on that result. Both Adrian and I have raced sports cars on street circuits and know what to expect going in. For sure it will be a challenge this weekend, especially in dealing with traffic. I think it will be a very exciting race with non-stop action for the drivers as well as the fans."