Laguna Seca: Fernandez Racing preview

Fernandez, Haberfeld Bring Their Lowe's Daytona Prototype to Familiar Laguna Seca for U.S. Sports Car Invitational Lowe's Fernandez Racing heads west for a pair of back-to-back Grand American Rolex Series events beginning with this weekend's ...

Fernandez, Haberfeld Bring Their Lowe's Daytona Prototype to Familiar Laguna Seca for U.S. Sports Car Invitational

Lowe's Fernandez Racing heads west for a pair of back-to-back Grand American Rolex Series events beginning with this weekend's U.S. Sports Car Invitational at scenic Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca near Monterey, Calif. Sunday's 2-hour, 45-minute main event will be the sixth Rolex Series start for the No. 12 Lowe's Fernandez Racing Pontiac Riley driving duo of Adrian Fernandez and Mario Haberfeld. It comes at the legendary 2.238-mile hillside road circuit where each has enjoyed open-wheel racing success in recent years. Fernandez has a podium and three top-five finishes at Laguna Seca in 11 Champ Car starts from 1993-2003, and also capped his 1992 Indy Lights Series Rookie of the Year season with a fifth-place finish. Haberfeld has a fifth and a seventh-place finish at Laguna Seca in a pair of Champ Car starts in 2003 and 2004.

In a unique qualifying format for the Daytona Prototypes introduced two weekends ago at Virginia International Raceway, there will once again be a 30-minute qualifying race on Saturday. Practice speeds will determine the starting lineup for the qualifying race and the finishing order will determine the grid for Sunday's main event. The driver that starts on Saturday cannot start on Sunday. While a single driver can race Saturday's entire race, there will still be a mandatory driver change on Sunday.

Lowe's Fernandez Racing debuted in this season's opening Rolex 24 at Daytona, where it climbed as high as third before overheating problems ended a promising run. In Mexico City, the duo started fourth and finished seventh. The team finished 14th at Homestead after falling down a lap during a driver switch on pit lane. At Long Beach, the team finished 11th after surviving a multi-car accident early in the race that required an extra pit stop to repair front-end damage. A promising run at VIR that appeared destined for a podium finish was ended when a flat tire required an unscheduled pit stop, but Haberfeld and Fernandez were able to salvage an eighth-place finish. After Laguna Seca, the series is back in action May 13 for a Saturday night race at Phoenix.

ADRIAN FERNANDEZ ON THE SEASON SO FAR: "I think it's safe to say we come to Laguna Seca with some confidence and maybe a little momentum after a strong recovery at Virginia. For the first time, I think we definitely could have had a podium finish if we wouldn't have had to pit for the flat tire. We were running some of the fastest laps of the race, which shows we are getting more and more competitive as we go. We are definitely headed in the right direction. Everyone on the Lowe's Fernandez team is playing an important part in bringing the program along at an accelerated pace."

FERNANDEZ ON RACING AT LAGUNA SECA RACEWAY: "Laguna Seca has always been one of my favorite circuits. I have quite a lot of seat time there, but so do a lot of the guys we are racing against. Monterey is one of the nicest places to stay and go out during the race weekend. As far as the track is concerned, it will really help to come there knowing the fast way around. It will be a very demanding race that requires your full attention all the way around the track because there are no opportunities to rest. If you lose your focus, the track can definitely bite you. We are really looking forward to the weekend there and hopefully getting our best finish of the season."

MARIO HABERFELD ON LAGUNA SECA AND RECENT TEST AT WATKINS GLEN: "I really like Laguna a lot. It's one of my favorite circuits here in the U.S. Laguna is where I had my first top-five finish in Champ Car on a normal road course. I did the Jim Russell Racing School there in go-karts, and after we were finished with the school, I won both school races. I'm really looking forward to this weekend because I think the Lowe's car should perform well there. We tested at Watkins Glen after the VIR race and we had a very good test, which will make us better for the Laguna and Phoenix races, for sure. We learned a lot more about the car. Laguna is one of those tracks where handling will be just as important as power. I know the track really well, Adrian knows the track really well, and our engineers know the track really well, so we will have that in our favor. It won't be like going to one of those tracks like VIR or Watkins Glen where we have to learn as we go."

HABERFELD ON NEW QUALIFYING RACE FORMAT: "We will have a better idea about how the thing works after this weekend because I hear the weather is supposed to be nice. At VIR, it was a little difficult because it rained on Saturday morning during the practice session that they were supposed to use to set the grid for the qualifying race. So they set the grid by points, and that put us all the way back in 13th. That was too much to try and make up on a wet track during the qualifying race. It should be a lot different this weekend with the dry conditions because I'm expecting us to show up with a strong setup. It's definitely very interesting that the qualifying race is worth as many points as the Sunday race, but that makes it more exciting for the fans, I think, and that's what it's all about. It definitely can lead to a very exciting qualifying race if the opportunities are there for a good finish."

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Mario Haberfeld , Adrian Fernandez