Indy Racing League Weekly Teleconference July 13, 2004 Adrian Fernandez MODERATOR: Welcome, everybody, to the Indy Racing League's teleconference. Today's teleconference features Al Unser from the Menards Infiniti Pro Series, and later we'll...
Indy Racing League
July 13, 2004
MODERATOR: Welcome, everybody, to the Indy Racing League's teleconference. Today's teleconference features Al Unser from the Menards Infiniti Pro Series, and later we'll have owner/driver Adrian Fernandez from the IndyCar® Series.
Now let's welcome Adrian Fernandez to the call. Are you with us, Adrian?
ADRIAN FERNANDEZ: Yes.
MODERATOR: I know we talked with you a couple of months ago on the conference call. It was right after your decision to move your team to the Indy Racing League. I know the first couple races were ones everyone made the adjustments and learned the new things in the car. It seems like things really came together for you guys during the month of May at Indianapolis. Was all of that practice time really the key to things turning in the right direction?
ADRIAN FERNANDEZ: Yes, definitely. That month of May was very important for us to be able to get used to the car and get a better position in the race car, getting used to the engines. Also in Indianapolis was a turning point on the engines. Basically, everybody started with a new piece of equipment. That was very important to us. Just spending more time with the car, also learning the competition, learning about the drivers, some of the drivers I haven't competed against before, different type of driving, more side-by-side racing, which I was not used to, using the spotter. Also, getting used to the load disability on the (Panoz) G Force. Now we have made some modifications. We put mirrors where I can see more, so I feel more in control than before. All those things have helped me feel more comfortable and more competitive in the race car.
Q: You have turned in four consecutive finishes in the top seven. The confidence level has to be really high right now on the team.
ADRIAN FERNANDEZ: It is. It is pretty high. We have been very consistent, very solid in the last few races. The only thing really we need to do is improve a little more on the car to make it a little faster and be where Rahal (Letterman Racing) is. Right now, in some of these races, they're the class of the field. We need to do a better job in terms of the car. But hopefully, we have some good progress. We're on the process right now. Hopefully, in the next few races, we'll be able to show that.
Q: What's the main focus of the team right now? Is it just staying consistent and improving bit by bit with some good finishes or are you really pushing hard for that first victory, even as early as this weekend in Nashville?
ADRIAN FERNANDEZ: I think the first victory will come any time soon. I think if we manage to break through this new development we're doing on the car, and it works, I think we'll be able to be in a position to win a race in the next few races. I'm confident I can do the job. I'm confident the team can do the job in the pits with the preparation of the car. It will depend on how this progress and the new developments are going to work.
Q: You're driving with the same Honda power, obviously, that the leaders have, at least the top three, Tony Kanaan, Buddy Rice, Dan Wheldon. You mentioned you made some gains, Panoz G Force adjustments. Are there some gains you can make with that power to get up there, too?
ADRIAN FERNANDEZ: To be honest, Honda has been the class of the field this year. They developed a very strong engine. The 3.5-liter was very strong in Japan. The 3.0-liter has been very strong since Indy. Obviously, that's helped us tremendously, having a great engine. The (Panoz) G Force seems to be very good. In some of the tracks, shorter tracks, the Dallara seems to be a little bit better. But there is -- we haven't really developed the (Panoz) G Force ourselves, and that's where we've been lagging behind the Rahal (Letterman Racing) team. They've done a better job in that respect. They deserve the results they've been having. We just have to do a better job so we can get closer to the front than we are right now.
Q: How tough is it for you to balance both driving and owning not only your car but another car? Anything that's sort of taken your attention away from the driving as far as any of the duties you have to perform as an owner?
ADRIAN FERNANDEZ: At this stage, no, because I'm more relaxed. My partner (Tom Anderson) has done a great job with the team, and I don't really have to get involved in a lot of the day-to-day running of the team. Major things we need to discuss, we discuss it, when the time is right. We have very good people on the team. I try to help Kosuke (Matsuura) as a driver and owner, to give him the guidance, the apprenticeship he needs to get in his first rookie year. He realizes that being fast is one thing, but you have to have the complete package to get to the end of the races. I think he learned and (Jeff) Simmons learned a lesson last weekend when they had this crash, which I was right behind. That could be completely avoidable. That's part of being a rookie. That's the type of thing that I'm trying to teach, and that takes time. That's just part of it. But it's really not taking me more time, you know, the team right now. I'm enjoying my driving. Tom (Anderson) is doing an excellent job in that respect.
Q: Nashville Superspeedway, it's a little different than what you've seen so far on the Indy Racing League circuit, especially the track surface itself, concrete. Talk about that for a moment.
ADRIAN FERNANDEZ: Yeah, I have heard about that, that the concrete is different. You know, you expect to have a little less grip in that respect. But the same again, you know, Richmond for me has been one of the most different tracks that I have ever competed on: high banking, very short, very fast, extremely fast because of the banking and the pavement. I mean, I felt in qualifying we were going way, way too fast through the corners, but then in the race, it was totally different. We got used to it. We had very little running there. Once you got used to it, it was better. I had a great race, actually, there. So I expect the same things, even though I've never been in Nashville. My team has been there last year, so there's things that we know we can expect. I will take it like I've been taking it. I like these two-day events, that way you don't have to confuse yourself too much. Hopefully, we will have a good start-up. Learning the track these days is not that difficult. It is more about learning where the car is. We just have to adapt to this concrete and the banking, just make sure we learn the lines and all that. It's just another track. We should be very competitive there.
Q: Since you haven't been in the series very long, you're getting accustomed to the Panoz G Force, how difficult is it not to have the ability to go out and test on a regular basis, go to something like a two-day event like this one and get to the front of the field?
ADRIAN FERNANDEZ: To be honest, I enjoy the no-testing situation. I like it. It used to be very hard on the mechanics and everybody when we used to test a lot. I don't particularly like testing. I like more racing.
Q: You like racing better?
ADRIAN FERNANDEZ: Yeah. So, I think the way they have it right now with very limited testing is great. I mean, it doesn't take too long to learn the ovals. It takes a lot more time to learn a road course. Oval, it's a different shape and all that, but after a few laps, you pretty much know where you are. It's just about getting the car set up and all that. I love the two-day events. It is, I think, more efficient for everybody. You normally don't have many people on Friday, anyway. So having a two-day event, it's a good economical situation for all of the teams, it's also a good situation for the drivers. You go there, have two sessions of testing, qualifying, go racing the next day. I think that's fantastic. I like it.
Q: It allows you to focus more on getting the job done without too many distractions?
ADRIAN FERNANDEZ: Right, yeah. I mean, you can be testing there for a week. But what's the point? The point is the racing. I think that's what, if we can have more two-day events, I think that's where we need to go.
Q:MODERATOR: Adrian, thanks again for taking the time to join us this afternoon. We wish you the best coming up at Nashville this weekend and for the rest of the season.
ADRIAN FERNANDEZ: Thank you, my friend.