Costly Penalty Knocks Lowe's Fernandez Racing Out of Contention for Win Lowe's Fernandez Racing looked poised for their first win in American Le Mans Series competition this evening until a penalty with just over 50 minutes remaining in the race...
Costly Penalty Knocks Lowe's Fernandez Racing Out of Contention for Win
Lowe's Fernandez Racing looked poised for their first win in American Le Mans Series competition this evening until a penalty with just over 50 minutes remaining in the race dropped the team out of contention. After a third-place qualifying effort by Adrian Fernandez, Luis Diaz was behind the wheel of the #15 Lowe's Acura Lola for the start of the inaugural Acura Sports Car Challenge of St. Petersburg.
Diaz drove a magnificent race, maneuvering through a wild start, passing fellow Acura-powered driver Marino Franchitti at the 50-minute mark for the lead and never putting a foot wrong during his almost two-hour driving stint. Just prior to a pit stop to turn the controls over to Fernandez, Diaz was assessed a penalty for "avoidable contact" with the #20 LMP2 car of Chris Dyson heading into Turn One. The result was a return to pit lane after the pit stop for a stop-and-go which dropped the #15 Lowe's Acura Lola down a lap.
Fernandez returned to the track fifth in the LMP2 class and seventh overall, but was never provided an opportunity to improve on his position due to two yellow flags in the closing stages. In total, Fernandez had just 13 laps of green flag track time. The team ended the day with a fourth-place result in LMP2 competition and sixth-place overall. They are currently second in the LMP2 point standings, only three points out of first.
Lowe's Fernandez Racing will head west in two weeks time as the American Le Mans Series prepares to make its debut at the always popular Long Beach Grand Prix on April 14. Luis Diaz is the defending sports car champion on the streets of Long Beach, winning from the pole last year with co-driver Scott Pruett.
Adrian Fernandez - #15 Lowe's Acura Lola:
"It was a good day but we have to learn about some drivers and some situations. When you are behind a lapped car, you are not expecting him to be fighting for position. Luis got caught in that situation and we got a penalty. Our race was over then. We were strong all weekend and I feel we had the win there this evening but it slipped out of our hands. It tells you that these races are not over until they're over."
Luis Diaz -- #15 Lowe's Acura Lola:
"He [Chris Dyson] had been holding me down a lot. He opened the door going into Turn One and then closed it. It's unfortunate because I didn't want to hit him. I was doing my race and I was leading. He was four laps behind and was still able to continue. I think the team showed a lot of potential today. They did a great job. I feel bad because we deserve more but we still have 10 races to go. We are okay in points and we should be there fighting for the win again in the next races."