Fernandez First to Flags in Wild Chicagoland Delphi Indy 300 JOLIET, IL, 12 September 2004 - In a very rough and tumble Delphi Indy 300 that saw three drivers eliminated from the championship it was wise, experienced Adrian Fernandez...
Fernandez First to Flags in Wild Chicagoland Delphi Indy 300
JOLIET, IL, 12 September 2004 - In a very rough and tumble Delphi Indy 300 that saw three drivers eliminated from the championship it was wise, experienced Adrian Fernandez who brought his #5 Quaker State/Telmex Panoz G Force/Honda/Firestone racer first to the checkered flags after 200 laps around the 1.5-mile Chicagoland Speedway oval today.
Fernandez, who overcame air-jack failure in the pits on his second stop (while leading) paced 83 laps on five different occasions to take victory by a miniscule 0,0716 seconds over Bryan Herta. This is the Mexican veteran's second Indy Racing League IndyCar Series victory in only his 13th IRL race. "I'm very excited and happy," Fernandez declared.
"With my experience, you see things and you sit back and ride" as four cautions for contact broke up the contest and eliminated seven cars. "At some points I gave the lead back to see what would happen with the race," he noted. "My car was much better in clean air than in traffic and I knew, with the pit stop problems, that I needed to be aggressive to win.
"In clean air my Panoz G Force was fantastic," Fernandez continued. "With the IRL competition so close, you have to be careful the changes you make for the race. We took some chances and they worked." With this finish, Fernandez has moved to sixth in the championship chase, up one position.
Vitor Meira finished fifth in the #17 Team Centrix Panoz G Force/Honda and called the race "pretty hard. That's how those races are going to be; you just hold your breath, but I think it was a good day." Scott Dixon, who started 14th made his way to seventh in the #1 Team Target Panoz G Force/Toyota and said, "The Panoz G Force was excellent today; it was probably the easiest day I had this year because of how strong the car was. We struggled a bit on restarts," the 2003 IRL champion admitted, "but the car was strong through the corners. This was probably the closest racing we've had all year," he understated.
The final caution of the afternoon involved 2004 Indianapolis 500 Mile Race winner Buddy Rice, whose #15 Argent Mortgage/Pioneer Panoz G Force/Honda made contact with Darren Manning's #10 Team Target Panoz G Force/Toyota. Rice flipped and somersaulted along the back straight in an incident that reminded many of Rahal Letterman Racing's Kenny Brack's accident at Texas Motor Speedway last October. Rice exited the car under his own power and without injury, immediately stating, "That Panoz G Force chassis really held up!"
The Indy cars' penultimate race, the Toyota Indy 400 takes place on October 3rd at California Speedway.