CHAMPCAR/CART: Mexico City: Fernandez Racing preview

Confidence and Dreams Fuel Fernandez in Gran Premio Telmex-Gigante The Champ Car World Series travels to the historic Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City this weekend for the Gran Premio Telmex-Gigante Presented by Banamex/Visa, the...

Confidence and Dreams Fuel Fernandez in Gran Premio Telmex-Gigante

The Champ Car World Series travels to the historic Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City this weekend for the Gran Premio Telmex-Gigante Presented by Banamex/Visa, the first of only three rounds of competition remaining on the 2003 schedule. The 2.786-mile permanent road course saw the return of CART competition in 2002 after a 21-year absence, and drew what was estimated to be the largest single-day crowd ever to witness a sporting event in Mexico.

For Adrian Fernandez, the long wait to achieve one of his lifelong dreams will be realized this weekend when he turns his first laps aboard a Champ Car in his hometown of Mexico City. Fernandez missed the inaugural Gran Premio Telmex-Gigante last year after being sidelined by injuries from the race in Australia, with Mexican talent Luis Diaz taking over driving duties of the #51 Tecate/Quaker State/Telmex machine. The Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez was the site of Fernandez's first laps in a race car, and he competed there many times in the formative stages of his career.

Fernandez is looking to carry the momentum of the past few races into Mexico City, particularly the team's strong showing in Miami where Fernandez sat on pole and look primed for his second win of the season until being bumped out of the lead in the latter stages.

The 70-lap/195.02-mile race, Round 17 of the Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford, will be broadcast live by Speed Channel and Fox Sports en Espanol beginning at 4:00 pm ET this Sunday.

Adrian Fernandez, Owner/Driver -- #51 Tecate/Quaker State/Telmex Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone:

* Will be making his first Champ Car start in Mexico City and his 177th Champ Car career start
* Best 2003 starting position to date was pole position in the last event at Miami
* Best 2003 finish to date was a win at Portland
* Has finished eighth or better in the past four events, and only failed to finish in the points twice this year
* Best 2003 road course start was third in Portland; best road course finish was a win in Portland
* Two of his eight career wins were on road circuits - Portland in 2003 and Mid-Ohio in 1998
* Career best road course start was pole position in Monterrey, Mexico, in 2002
* Currently sits eighth in the championship with 99 points
* Claimed two podiums to date in 2003 - first in Portland and second in Long Beach

"We are very determined to win this race. We feel very confident as a group in the way we have been working. Miami got away from us. It was something that was out of our control. We will follow the same momentum towards Mexico; I am very confident and the whole team is very confident. I love this track; I absolutely love it. I have always had very good success here. It is a fantastic track to race on, and it is very special to be in your own country and in the city you were born. For me, it is going to be a nice experience and knowing that we are going to be strong makes it even more special."

FAST FACTS: Recorded 10 top-10 finishes in 16 rounds of 2003 competition to date-- has qualified seventh or better in nine races to date, claiming his best starting position of pole in Miami-- enters his 11th season of Champ Car competition with eight career wins and four pole positions-- 40 years old from Mexico City-- formed Fernandez Racing in the fall of 2000 with Tom Anderson-- only competing owner/driver in the series-- is the third most-winning driver in the current Champ Car field-- ranked ninth in CART all-time career starts-- has 21 Champ Car career podiums to his credit-- last win was at Portland on June 22-- last pole position was at Miami on September 28.

Track Talk
The 16-turn, 2.786-mile permanent road course is a unique race track as Fernandez Racing Race Engineer Chris Finch notes: "Top speed on the front straight will be close to 200 mph followed by hard braking into a 72 mph first corner. Turn Six through Turn 13 is a combination of rights and lefts that keeps getting quicker with each subsequent corner. It is all about momentum and quick reaction through this section. The "Stadium" section, Turns 14 through 16, is similar to a street circuit with rough concrete and slow, 90-degree corners.

"Mexico City is at an altitude of 7500 feet and the barometric pressure is 23.00 to 23.5 in Hg - meaning thin air. In terms of setup, you will be required to have good mechanical grip because the low air density at altitude will rob the car of its downforce."

Finch estimates top speeds of 198 mph with minimum cornering speeds around 54 mph. Drivers will shift 28 times per lap throughout the course of the 70-lap race. The maximum interval for pit stops is set at 19 laps, requiring a minimum of three stops.

Adrian Fernandez will be participating in the All-Mexican Driver Press Conference this Wednesday at 12:00 pm, and the Official Track Press Conference at 12:00 pm on Thursday. Both conferences will be held at the Autadromo Hermanos Rodriguez Media Center.

Fans will have a chance for an autograph prior to race weekend activities when Fernandez visits the Wal-Mart Taxquena for an autograph session hosted by Tecate on Wednesday from 5:00 to 6:30 pm.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Adrian Fernandez , Luis Diaz , Tom Anderson