CHAMPCAR/CART: Road America: Fernandez Racing preview

Fernandez aiming for first Road America win Three podiums the past four years has Owner/Driver optimistic The Champ Cars will head to Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, this weekend for the Mario Andretti Grand Prix at Road America, Round 12 of the ...

Fernandez aiming for first Road America win
Three podiums the past four years has Owner/Driver optimistic

The Champ Cars will head to Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, this weekend for the Mario Andretti Grand Prix at Road America, Round 12 of the Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford. At 4.048 miles in length, Road America is the longest road course on the schedule and also the fastest. The series has been competing on the circuit since 1982, with Hector Rebaque winning the inaugural event to become the first Mexican driver to claim a Champ Car race victory.

For Adrian Fernandez, this weekend marks a return to his favorite track on the 2003 schedule. Fernandez made his first appearance at Road America in 1993, and has enjoyed considerable success over the years with three podium finishes and two fifth-place runs. He will be chasing his first win on the circuit when the 60 lap/242.880 mile race gets underway this Sunday.

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

* Will be making his 11th Champ Car start at Road America
* Has finished on the podium three times in the past four years -- third (2001), second (2000), third (1999)
* Has finished in the top six in six of 10 starts
* Best starting position was fifth in 1999 and 2000
* Best finish was second in 2000
* Qualified eighth last year but retired with a mechanical problem on Lap 27
* Came back from a 26th-place starting position in 2001 to finish third
* Currently sits seventh in the championship with 70 points

"The Elkhart Lake circuit is beautiful. It is my favorite race track. I have finished on the podium there three times in the past four years. Unfortunately, we had a mechanical problem that put us out last year. I love to drive on this track. We have been very competitive here, and hopefully we can win our second race of the season this weekend."

FAST FACTS:

Will be making his172nd Champ Car career start-- recorded six top-10 finishes in 11 rounds of 2003 competition to date -- second at Long Beach, fourth in Monterrey, Mexico, sixth in Milwaukee, seventh at Laguna Seca, first in Portland and ninth in Toronto-- claimed his best 2003 starting position of third in St. Petersburg and Portland-- has finished over 23 percent of his 53 Champ Car career road course starts in the top five and holds five road course podiums-- career best road course finishes were wins at Portland this year and Mid-Ohio in 1998; career best road course start was pole at Monterrey, Mexico, in 2002-- enters his 11th season of Champ Car competition with eight career wins and three 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 10th 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 Milwaukee in 2002.

Track Talk

Road America's 14-turn, 4.048-mile permanent road course is a driver favorite with long straights, fast and slow turns and plenty of elevation changes. Fernandez Racing Race Engineer David Watson estimates top speeds of 186 mph with minimum cornering speeds in the 57 mph range. Drivers will shift 40 times per lap throughout the course of the 60-lap race, pulling a maximum G Force load of 3.8. The maximum lap interval for pit stops is set at 13 laps, requiring a minimum of four stops.

Minimizing drag is key for this weekend as Watson notes:

"All cars will be run in their minimum drag configuration -- low drag sidepods and rear wing positions. In this way, Road America is the only track of its type. The elevation changes can make corner entry interesting and a solid rear end [to the car] is important."

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Adrian Fernandez , Mario Andretti , Hector Rebaque , Tom Anderson