Utah: Fernandez Racing preview

Lowe's Fernandez Racing Rolls Into Salt Lake City Joined by Meira for Rolex Series Season Finale The curtain falls on the 2006 Grand American Rolex Series season for Lowe's Fernandez Racing as it travels to the outskirts of Salt Lake City and...

Lowe's Fernandez Racing Rolls Into Salt Lake City

Joined by Meira for Rolex Series Season Finale

The curtain falls on the 2006 Grand American Rolex Series season for Lowe's Fernandez Racing as it travels to the outskirts of Salt Lake City and the brand new Miller Motorsports Park road circuit for Saturday's nine-hour endurance marathon.

Regular drivers Adrian Fernandez and Mario Haberfeld will share the #12 Lowe's Fernandez Racing Pontiac Riley this weekend with IRL IndyCar Series regular Vitor Meira for the first-time event around new 24-turn, 4.5-mile track. Fernandez and Haberfeld are coming off this past weekend's third-place finish at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif., the team's second podium finish and fourth top-five main event outing in their last seven events. They're looking to get back to the winner's circle for the first time since racing from worst to first at Mid-Ohio in late June. Meira, too, earned a podium finish of his own at Infineon last weekend, driving his IRL Indy car to a third-place finish on Sunday.

Before their victory at Mid-Ohio, which came in dramatic fashion as Fernandez and Haberfeld rallied from last in the 27-car Daytona Prototype field, the first-year Lowe's Fernandez team broke through with a pole position and victory in the qualifying race at Phoenix in early May. Since then, they've proven to be front runners at every track they've set wheels on, featuring race-day bests of fifth at Phoenix, third at Birmingham, Ala., and third last weekend at Infineon.

ADRIAN FERNANDEZ ON FINISHING THE TEAM'S INAUGURAL SEASON: "It's been a learning experience and a very gratifying experience for everybody at Lowe's Fernandez Racing. We just want to thank Lowe's for making it all happen. We went to the winner's circle together at Mid-Ohio, and after a very short time we felt like we were one of the best teams out there. At least we felt like we could fight for the win each weekend. We would love nothing better than to close our first season with a win. Mario and I had a chance to drive the track for the first time last week and it's a very nice place. After what we saw, we have every reason to believe we will be strong once again. It's a long race, so we brought Vitor on board to help us get to the finish, and I think he's going to help us a lot. He will do an excellent job for us. I just hope it all adds up to another win for us."

MARIO HABERFELD ON MILLER MOTORSPORTS PARK: "On paper it says the track is 4-and-a-half miles and after you drive it, it definitely feels like it. There is a lot to it. A couple of the combinations happen more than once on the circuit, so it can get a little difficult to figure out exactly where you are and what's coming up next. But we will have a test day there on Wednesday, and a full day of practice on Thursday, so I'm sure we'll have it all figured out by the time we qualify on Friday. We have a little bit of momentum coming to our last race of the season after things finally went our way a little bit last weekend in California. It's going to be a long race, so we will have to be more patient than ever. We will have to run a good pace and stay as close to the front as possible so we can go racing for the win at the end. That's our plan. It will be good to have my fellow Brazilian Vitor with us to make our lineup strong."

VITOR MEIRA ON JOINING LOWE'S FERNANDEZ RACING THIS WEEKEND: "I hope I can help the team continue the momentum I watched them build at Sonoma last weekend. Helping them finish the season with a win would be a great thing for the team and for the sponsor Lowe's. I'm really excited about this opportunity because it's a chance to drive with Adrian, who I raced against in the 2004 IRL season, and who I have been watching and admiring since I was a kid driving Formula Fords. I've known Mario for a long time. We came up through racing together and he's been a very good teammate for Adrian. I haven't driven this exact package, but I have experience in various prototypes in Brazil and in Europe. Learning the new track and learning this car will hopefully go quickly. I'm pretty confident about that. It will be important to get to Adrian's and Mario's level as quickly as possible so we can make the most of our practice time, qualify well, stay close to the front for the first eight or nine hours of the race, and then fight for the win at the end."

ABOUT THE DRIVERS

Fernandez, 43, a Mexico City native who now resides in Paradise Valley, Ariz., made his mark as an open-wheel star through a 12-year career at the top levels of the sport. In 2005, he branched out to NASCAR running six races with Hendrick Motorsports in the Busch Series.

Haberfeld, 29, a native of Sao Paulo, Brazil, and current resident of Key Biscayne, Fla., is a former British Formula 3 champion, who made his U.S. racing debut in the Champ Car World Series contesting the 2003 and 2004 seasons.

Meira, 29, a native of Brazilia, Brazil, and current resident of Indianapolis, is a former British Formula Ford Winter Series champion and veteran open-wheel racer who made his U.S. racing debut in the IRL IndyCar Series in 2000, where he has been full- and part-time driver since. Currently driving full-time for Panther Racing.

-credit: fernandez racing

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Mario Haberfeld , Adrian Fernandez , Vitor Meira
Teams Panther Racing , Hendrick Motorsports