FONTANA, Calif. (November 2) - Fernandez Racing Team Owners Adrian Fernandez and Tom Anderson announced today that Toyota Atlantic standout Luis Diaz has been tagged as the potential replacement driver for Fernandez in the Telmex Gigante Grand...
FONTANA, Calif. (November 2) - Fernandez Racing Team Owners Adrian Fernandez and Tom Anderson announced today that Toyota Atlantic standout Luis Diaz has been tagged as the potential replacement driver for Fernandez in the Telmex Gigante Grand Prix on November 17. Fernandez has yet to be cleared to drive in the CART FedEx Championship Series season finale following injuries sustained at the Honda Indy 300 in Australia on October 27.
"I am hoping with all my heart that I will be able to race in Mexico City," said Fernandez. "If I am not cleared to drive, then we have to be prepared as a team and we want to have a Mexican driver in our car. Luis is the obvious choice."
Diaz, 24, of Mexico City, finished fourth in the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship this year. 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 this season.
"Obviously we are disappointed that Adrian will miss the Fontana race and may miss Mexico City, but we are glad his injuries are not worse than they are," said Anderson. "If the extent of his injuries necessitates a replacement driver for the last race, then we want to make sure that Luis has some track time beforehand."
A seat fitting for Diaz will be completed at California Speedway this weekend, and Fernandez Racing will head to Firebird International Raceway near Phoenix, Ariz., immediately following the race. Diaz will test in the #51Tecate/Quaker State/Telmex Honda/Lola/Bridgestone on Tuesday, November 5, with Fernandez overseeing his first laps behind the wheel of a Champ Car.
"We have been watching Luis for quite some time," said Fernandez. "He is a very talented driver, and I know that there are a lot of top teams that are interested in him. This test will allow us to give him the opportunity to drive a Champ Car, and will also serve as a back-up plan in case there is a problem with me driving."
Diaz, who began his career in karts at the age of 12, is ready for the new challenge.
"First of all, I want to say that this was not the way I wanted to step into a Champ Car with Adrian injured," said Diaz. "I know how much it means to him to race in Mexico City, and I hope that he will be able to drive.
"Obviously I am thrilled about taking my first laps in a Champ Car on Tuesday. This is something that I have dreamed about ever since I have been watching Adrian race. He paved the way for Mexican drivers to compete outside of our country, and it will be an honor to step into his car next week."
With record-breaking crowds anticipated for the inaugural race at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodríguez circuit, Diaz is not concerned about the pressure surrounding his potential Champ Car debut.
"If I do have to step in at Mexico City, Adrian will be there to coach me," noted Diaz. "Who better to lead you through your first Champ Car race than Adrian Fernandez?"
Under the guidance of his doctors, Fernandez will be seated in the #51 cockpit this weekend, with the mandatory HANS (Head and Neck Support) device, to determine his comfort level. A decision as to whether he will be cleared to drive at Mexico City will be made next week.