CHAMPCAR/CART: Fontana: Fernandez Racing preview

Nakano and Papis lead Fernandez Racing into last U.S. race of season. As Adrian Fernandez recovers from injuries (two compression fractures of the second and third thoracic vertebrae) sustained in a multi-car incident at the Honda Indy 300 in ...

Nakano and Papis lead Fernandez Racing into last U.S. race of season.

As Adrian Fernandez recovers from injuries (two compression fractures of the second and third thoracic vertebrae) sustained in a multi-car incident at the Honda Indy 300 in Surfers Paradise, Australia, last weekend, Shinji Nakano and replacement driver "Mad Max" Papis will lead the team into the last Champ Car race on U.S. soil this season.

Nakano's first order of business on Sunday will be to finish the race. In four superspeedway starts, mechanical problems have prevented Nakano from going the distance. He is looking forward to not only reaching the 500-mile mark, but also bettering his CART-career best finish of fourth posted at Toronto earlier this year.

Papis, who has two second-place finishes at Fontana under his belt, is looking to move up one step on the podium this weekend. His return to Fernandez Racing [Papis took over driving duties at Mid-Ohio for Fernandez after he was injured in Vancouver] is also a reunion with race engineer David Watson, who joined Fernandez Racing for the final three races of 2002 and engineered Papis at Sigma Autosport [which withdrew from the series earlier this year].

Max Papis, Driver -- #51 Tecate/Quaker State/Telmex Honda/Lola/Bridgestone:

* Will be making his sixth Champ Car appearance at California Speedway
* Posted podium finishes of second last year and in 1999
* Best starting position was second in 1999
* Scored podium finishes in two of six races contested this season, finishing third at Long Beach and Milwaukee
* Last Champ Car race was the CART Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio on August 11

On Fontana:  "I don't like the circumstances, but I am happy that the team has again asked me to drive. I am going to do my best. Last year, I led more laps on the superspeedways than anybody else. I have never won the Fontana race, but I finished second last year and in 1999. It has been a year since I have driven a Champ Car on a superspeedway but I am going to be out there to try to do what I didn't do last year, and that is to win the race."

FAST FACTS:  Will be making his 106th Champ Car career start-- finished sixth in the championship last year-- has three Champ Car career wins -- Homestead (2000), Portland (2001) and Laguna Seca (2001) -- and two pole positions, Chicago (1999) and Portland (2001)-- currently sits 18th in the championship with 32 points.

Shinji Nakano, Driver -- #52 Alpine/Mitsuba Honda/Lola/Bridgestone:


* Will be making his third Champ Car appearance at California Speedway
* Started 12th last year but retired with a mechanical problem on Lap 120 and was credited with 21st place
* Posted his career-best oval result at Chicago this season with a fifth-place finish
* Career-best oval starting position was sixth at Milwaukee this year

On Fontana: "I have started four 500-mile races but I have never seen the checkered flag. I want to finish the race. That is the first thing. Finishing on the podium would be great. Our car on the ovals is very good, and the Honda engine is very strong. I am looking forward to the race."

FAST FACTS:  Will be making his 55th career Champ Car start -- has 19 oval starts to his credit, posting four top-10 results-- is in his third season of Champ Car competition, and second year with Fernandez Racing-- currently sits 16th in the championship with 43 points.

For more information, please visit www.fernandezracing.net. Additional information on Max Papis can be found at www.maxpapis.com. For additional information on the CART FedEx Championship Series, please visit www.cart.com.

-fr-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Max Papis , Adrian Fernandez , Shinji Nakano
Teams ART Grand Prix