Utah: Fernandez Racing early out race report

Mechanical Failure Ends Salt Lake City Finale Bid for Lowe's Fernandez Racing A promising run in the nine-hour Grand American Rolex Series season finale for the ...

Mechanical Failure Ends Salt Lake City Finale Bid for Lowe's Fernandez Racing

A promising run in the nine-hour Grand American Rolex Series season finale for the #12 Lowe's Fernandez Racing Pontiac Riley team of Adrian Fernandez, Mario Haberfeld and Vitor Meira was cut about four hours short due to terminal mechanical trouble today at Miller Motorsports Park outside Salt Lake City.

Haberfeld was at the controls and running in third as the race just turned five hours old when he heard a loud bang and the engine on the No. 12 Lowe's machine seized. He coasted into the pits and the team quickly found the problem to be terminal.

From their starting position of ninth, the Lowe's Fernandez trio each cycled through single fuel-and-tire stints with Haberfeld taking the green flag and holding his position through the first hour and 20 minutes before handing the car over to Fernandez. Over the next hour and 20 minutes, Fernandez moved up to fourth before handing the controls over to IndyCar Series regular Meira. At the four-hour mark, Meira was running in third when he handed the car to Haberfeld, who resumed in eighth but worked his way back up to third before the team's day came to an abrupt end.

This concludes the 14-race Grand American Rolex Series season. The first-year Lowe's Fernandez Racing team claimed an overall race win at Mid-Ohio in June, a qualifying race win at Phoenix in May, and had five top-five finishes in all.

Adrian Fernandez: "Things were really looking good. Everything was going exactly according to plan. We never intended to start pushing hard until much, much later in the race. Unfortunately, we had our first major mechanical problem of the season at the very last race. It's a shame to have to end our season this way. The race was shaping up very nicely for us. The Lowe's car was getting better and better with every stint. All three of us were turning faster and faster laps. We were in third place when Mario said he just heard a loud bang. The engine locked up, so he had to coast into the pits and that was it. On the bright side, we can feel good that we had such a good car, and such a good strategy that was taking shape. The crew did an excellent job this weekend, just like they have all year. I think if we could have kept going, it would have been very interesting at the end. We felt like we were in perfect position to fight for the win, if that's possible to say five hours into a nine-hour race!"

Mario Haberfeld: "The race was definitely coming to us, slowly but surely. My second stint was going even better than my first. Adrian and Vitor also had very good stints. About five laps before the engine let go, I started feeling a vibration. I was hoping it was tires or something. Then, about three laps before it happened, I asked the team if they could see anything on the telemetry, and they said they couldn't. I was hoping it would go away. But, sure enough, I heard a loud bang and then I had to get out of gear and coast in because the engine locked up. It's very disappointing. It's been a pleasure running with the Lowe's Fernandez team this year. For sure, it is one of the best I've ever raced with. Everybody works hard and they are all very good people. I also want to thank Lowe's for making this all happen."

Vitor Meira: "It was fun while it lasted. It was a very good experience for me. On my stint, we had one of the top three fastest laps of the race so that means the speed was there and we weren't even pushing hard. We were really looking forward to the last few hours where we could really go for it. I was hoping to get back in the car again, but it wasn't meant to be. I feel bad for everyone on this team because everybody worked so hard to finish the season on a high note. I enjoyed myself very much. I hope that I can work together with Adrian and his team again someday."

-credit: fernandez racing

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