CHAMPCAR/CART: Monterrey: Fernandez Racing preview

Fernández ready for one of his biggest races of the year. The Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford heads to Monterrey, Mexico, this weekend and Adrian Fernandez - last year's polesitter for the Tecate/Telmex Grand...

Fernández ready for one of his biggest races of the year.

The Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford heads to Monterrey, Mexico, this weekend and Adrian Fernandez - last year's polesitter for the Tecate/Telmex Grand Prix of Monterrey - is looking for his first Champ Car podium in his home country.

Fernandez started out 2003 strong, with a third-place qualifying position in the season-opener at St. Petersburg, Florida. Unfortunately his day ended several laps short of the checkered flag. The team followed up the first race of season with a successful two-day test at Sebring International Raceway in Sebring, Florida, which Fernandez believes will be a positive factor in the team's results this weekend.

As the Champ Car World Series field prepares to make its third appearance on the challenging 2.1-mile Fundidora Park circuit and Fernandez Racing gears up for one of its biggest races of the season, Fernandez feels the team is ready to show its true potential.

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

* Will be making his third Champ Car career start at Monterrey

* Started on pole position last year, his career-best road/course to date, and finished 13th

* Started 19th and finished 19th in 2001

* Best career road/street course finishes to date are wins in Australia (2000), Mid-Ohio (1998) and Toronto (1996)

* Has finished over half (69%) of his 48 career road course starts in the points

"This is a very important race for us and I am looking forward to finishing the good start we had in St. Petersburg. We learned a lot of things in our last test at Sebring that I feel will help us to be very competitive this weekend. This is our third year to compete in Monterrey and we know what to expect now. We are a lot more organized and efficient with our time, from both a public relations standpoint and in meeting the needs of our sponsors Tecate, Quaker State and Telmex. After all the things that have happened to us in the last five months with the accidents and the preparation for this year, the best present would be to win the race and we are working very hard to do that. I think we are capable of winning on Sunday.

"One of the things I look forward to in coming back to Mexico to race is the support of the fans. This year, there are more Mexican drivers than ever to cheer for and more corporations and big sponsors involved. It brings a better show for Mexico and we are very excited about it."

FAST FACTS: Will be making his 162nd Champ Car career start-- enters his 11th season of Champ Car competition with seven career wins and three pole positions-- thirty-seven 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 11th in CART all-time career starts-- made Champ Car debut at Long Beach in 1993-- has 19 Champ Car career podiums to his credit-- last win was at Australia in 2000-- last pole position was at Milwaukee in 2002-- looking for his first win as an owner/driver-- the last win by an owner/driver was in 1992 when Bobby Rahal won at Nazareth.

Fernandez Hopes for Podium Deja Vu
The last podium for Fernandez on Mexican soil came in 1992 - the same year he made his American racing debut in Indy Lights competition. Fernandez competed in a one-off Formula 3 race for Team GO which, coincidentally, was managed by current Fernandez Racing Team Manager Gustavo del Campo. Fernandez, substituting for Team GO's regular driver Carlos Guerrero, won the race and del Campo still has the trophy.

Fernandez Excited About Bridgestones
During Fernandez Racing's recent test at Sebring, the team was able to run the same Bridgestone Potenza Racing Radials that will be utilized by the Champ Car field this weekend. Fernandez was impressed: "I think the Bridgestone tire for Monterrey is going to be very good. I think they have given us a little more grip this year. On the Sebring track, the tire was very good, very consistent. I expect no problem on that side as usual. Bridgestone has always worked very openly with all the teams, and always tried to make sure that everyone is happy. All of us really appreciate their efforts and support."

Fernandez and Watson Hope Third Race is a Charm
Although Race Engineer David Watson joined Fernandez Racing for the final three events of the 2002 season, the Tecate/Telmex Grand Prix of Monterrey will mark only the third race that Fernandez and Watson have worked together. The duo paired up for the first time in Australia last year and, due to the race-day accident which sidelined Fernandez for the remainder of the 2002 schedule, resumed their relationship at the season-opener in St. Petersburg.

Despite their short time together, Fernandez is pleased with the chemistry: "I am very happy with the way things are going with David. Everyone knows that the relationship between a driver and his engineer is very important and, while we are still learning from each other because we are still new to each other, I already have a lot of faith in him. We have been through two races now and, with all of our testing, I feel we have confidence in each other. We just have to keep working hard and the results will be there."

Activities Start Early for Fernandez
Promotional activities, sponsor and media appearances will ensure an extremely busy time for the Mexican drivers. Fernandez's schedule began last week. On the heels of a Tecate autograph session in Phoenix and a media day in Los Angeles to promote the upcoming Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, Fernandez arrived in Mexico last Thursday. Four days of commercial filming, sponsor meetings, presentations and dinners were capped off by an Escuderia Telmex press conference in Mexico City today [Monday].

Fernandez will arrive in Monterrey tomorrow evening for a Tecate function, and participate in the first of two scheduled press conferences when he joins Michel Jourdain Jr., Mario Dominguez, Rodolfo Lavin and Roberto Gonzalez at the Cintermex Media Center on Wednesday at 11:30 am.

Fernandez will have a chance to demonstrate some of his athletic abilities when he participates in opening ceremonies, including throwing the first pitch, to kick-off the inaugural game of the season for the local Sultanes baseball team. The game will be held at the Estadio de Beisbol Monterrey in conjunction with Tecate on Wednesday evening at 6:30 pm.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Adrian Fernandez , Mario Dominguez , Rodolfo Lavin , Tom Anderson , Roberto Gonzalez , Michel Jourdain