Fernandez Racing Pre-Race Notes Marlboro 500 presented by Toyota CART FedEx Championship Series -- Round 21 California Speedway -- Fontana, California -- November 2 - 4 2.029-Mile Oval Adrian Fernandez, Owner/Driver -- ...
Fernandez Racing Pre-Race Notes
Marlboro 500 presented by Toyota
CART FedEx Championship Series -- Round 21
California Speedway -- Fontana, California -- November 2 - 4
Adrian Fernandez, Owner/Driver -- #51 Tecate/Quaker State/Telmex Honda/Reynard/Firestone:
* Will be making his fifth appearance at Fontana
* Won the race in 1999
* Has recorded four top-five finishes, including a podium (third in 1997), in four starts
* Finished fifth last year after starting 14th
* Best starting position was 13th in 1999
* Four of his seven career victories were on ovals (Japan in 1998/1999, Fontana in 1999 and Rio in 2000)
* Has finished almost half (49%) of his 57 career oval starts in the top 10
"I am ready for this season to be over. One of the biggest problems this year has been the qualifying system that CART imposed. It has affected us and many other teams that have not been able to accumulate points at the beginning of the season for different reasons -- it could be mechanical or whatever. Unfortunately, you get very little opportunity to get back to the second group in qualifying.
"That system has definitely been a big influence in our performance. If you take an average of the drivers that have been qualifying in the top 12 or top 13, it's the drivers that are in the top 13 in the championship who are the ones that are in the second [qualifying] group. It's so competitive that you have absolutely no chance. Knowing that there are a lot of unhappy people in CART with regards to this, I'm sure there will be a change for next year which will put us in an equal position to everybody.
"For Fontana, that problem is not going to exist. I have always done well at Fontana and it is a race that I have won. I'm looking forward to finishing the race and, I think, if we get to the end and finish, we will have a good result. I spoke with Honda and they feel pretty positive and confident about the engine, so that's encouraging for the race. I hope that both Shinji and I can do well in the last event. I am already excited about next year and, in a way, ready to finish this year. Hopefully, we can finish on a good note in Fontana."
FAST FACTS: Is the only owner/driver in the current CART field ** will be making his 145th career Champ Car start at Fontana ** his best oval start in 2001 was third at Chicago ** best oval finish to date this season was fifth at Milwaukee ** his best road/street course start in 2001 was second at Cleveland ** his best road/street course finish this year was third at Toronto and Elkhart Lake ** recorded his last win at the 2000 Honda Indy 300 in Australia ** has seven career Champ Car wins ** finished second in the championship last season ** tied for fourth most-winning driver in the current CART field.
Shinji Nakano, #52 Avex/Alpine Honda/Reynard/Firestone:
* Will be making his second appearance at Fontana
* Started 24th last year, but retired with a mechanical problem on Lap 113 and was credited with 16th place
* Recorded two top-10 finishes in 14 career oval starts
"It is an important race for me. I haven't finished a 500-mile race, and first I have to finish the race. Second, I want to finish on the podium. Things are getting better again. Towards the middle of the season, we had a lot of bad luck but now, towards the end, things are getting better again. I just want to carry this to Fontana. I know the team will give me a good car and I just have to drive well.
"I expected more from this season and I also expected to have better luck. I had a good car and the team did a very good job to put everything together as a new team. It's not an easy thing to put everything together at one time. I learned a lot this year from Adrian and Tom Anderson. It was a good experience for me. We have one race left and maybe I kept the luck for this race. I hope."
FAST FACTS: Will be making his 37th career Champ Car start at Fontana ** his best oval qualifying in 2001 was fifth at Texas ** best oval finish to date this season was eighth in Motegi ** his best road/street course start in 2001 was ninth at Detroit ** his best road/street course finish this year was ninth in Toronto ** is in his sophomore season of Champ Car competition with four top-10 finishes to his credit ** has the benefit of a teammate for the first time in his CART career ** hails from Formula One with 33 F1 starts and nine top-10 finishes in two years of competition.