IRL: Fontana: FR, Adrian Fernandez preview

Fernandez Chasing Third Win of Season at California Speedway 1999 Race Winner Looking to Add to Tally of Three Top-Two Results in Last Four Events Adrian Fernandez heads to familiar territory this weekend as the IRL IndyCar® Series converges on...

Fernandez Chasing Third Win of Season at California Speedway
1999 Race Winner Looking to Add to Tally of Three Top-Two Results in Last Four Events

Adrian Fernandez heads to familiar territory this weekend as the IRL IndyCar® Series converges on California Speedway for the Toyota Indy 400, the second to the last round of competition on the 16-race 2004 schedule. Fernandez is a previous winner at Fontana, claiming victory in 1999, and only once has failed to finish out of the top five in five career starts on the two-mile oval.

In addition to past success at California Speedway, Fernandez is also riding a wave of momentum having scored two wins and a second-place result in three of the last four IndyCar Series events.

Sunday's 200-lap race represents a crucial round in the championship standings, where both the series title and Rookie of the Year honors -- currently led by Super Aguri Fernandez Racing driver Kosuke Matsuura -- could be claimed. For Fernandez, who sits one point out of fifth and 14 points out of fourth in the standings, it is an opportunity to break into the top five in the championship despite missing the season opening race in Homestead, Florida.

* Will be making his sixth start at California Speedway and his 14th IRL IndyCar Series start
* Won at California Speedway in 1999, and has finished in the top five in four of five starts
* Claimed two wins and a second-place finish in three of the last four IRL events -- 1st at Kentucky Speedway [August 15], 1st at Chicagoland Speedway [September 12] and 2nd at Pikes Peak International Raceway [August 22]
* Currently sits sixth in the championship standings, one point out of fifth place and 14 points out of fourth
* Has scored eight top-seven finishes in 13 IndyCar Series starts
* Last competed at California Speedway in 2001

Adrian Fernandez, #5 Quaker State/Telmex/Tecate Panoz G Force/Honda/Firestone:

"I am really pumped for the weekend. The team has just been doing a tremendous job, and I think we have a good shot at winning both of the final races. We are on a roll right now. Fontana is a circuit that I know well. I have been successful there in the past and have won there before. The track holds a lot of memories for me personally, and this is also where Tom [Anderson, co-owner/managing director] and I announced the formation of Fernandez Racing back in 2000. To return there with the success that we have had lately and with Kosuke [Matsuura] battling for Rookie of the Year -- going back to where we started more or less -- is very satisfying."

FAST FACTS: Enters his 12th season of major open-wheel competition-- is the only competing owner/driver in the IndyCar Series field and the only Mexican driver to compete on a full-time basis in the IndyCar Series-- six of his 10 major open-wheel wins have been on ovals (Chicagoland 2004, Kentucky 2004, Rio 2000, Fontana 1999, Japan 1998/1999)-- has made 77 career oval starts to date, claiming 41 top-10 finishes (53%)-- major open-wheel career record includes 191 starts with 101 top-10 results (53%) and 44 top-five finishes (23%)-- 41 years old from Mexico City-- currently resides in Paradise Valley, Arizona.

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Adrian Fernandez , Kosuke Matsuura