Fernandez Wraps Up First Oval Test with Hendrick Motorsports FONTANA, Calif. (August 16, 2005) -- Open-wheel star Adrian Fernandez has turned his first laps behind the wheel of the ...
Fernandez Wraps Up First Oval Test with Hendrick Motorsports
FONTANA, Calif. (August 16, 2005) -- Open-wheel star Adrian Fernandez has turned his first laps behind the wheel of the #5 Lowe's Chevrolet on an oval, completing a two-day test today with Hendrick Motorsports at California Speedway. Fernandez is preparing for his first NASCAR Busch Series oval race, which will be held Sept. 3 on the two-mile Southern California circuit.
Fernandez will compete in three additional races aboard the #5 Lowe's machine, at Texas Motor Speedway on Nov. 5, Phoenix International Raceway on Nov. 12 and Homestead-Miami Speedway on Nov. 19. He made his NASCAR debut on March 6 in his native Mexico City, putting together an impressive performance at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez road course to lead four laps and finish 10th.
Aided by Crew Chief Jim Long and former Hendrick driver Jerry Nadeau, Fernandez was pleased with his first oval run in the #5 car.
"This test was all about track time for me to get used to the car," said Fernandez, who completed 270 laps over the course of the two-day test. "That was the main goal. These cars are different. You have to lift and you have to feel the car which is difficult compared to open-wheel cars where everything happens very quickly. Everything here happens a lot slower.
"It is totally different, but I am excited. I am starting from zero but the miles we did in this test was a big help. I am really looking forward to driving on the track with other cars."
Fernandez, a two-time winner at California Speedway in the open-wheel ranks, said he found the hardest part of the test to be the heat inside the car: "We didn't have the blowers on so I got very hot. When I sat in the car while the team worked on it, I was cooking. When we come here to race, the blowers will be working so I will be okay."
Nadeau, who consulted with Fernandez throughout the test, was impressed with his progress.
"I think he has done fine," said Nadeau. "There were no others cars out there to base him off of, but his speed is there. He is a racer. These [race] cars all have four wheels and a gas pedal. He just needs to gain experience. He will learn a lot more when he comes back here to California to race."
Nadeau noted that Fernandez's biggest hurdle will be learning how to set up a stock car. The 3,500-pound cars tend to move around more than an open-wheel car, and the handling characteristics change more dramatically in a stock car as fuel burns off and laps accumulate on the tires.
"I don't expect to come here and win," said Fernandez. "I will come here to qualify and try to finish in the top 20. That would be a good result. Obviously, you hope for something better than that, but there are a lot of unknowns right now."
Fernandez will return to his role as a team owner later this week when he heads to Pikes Peak International Raceway in Colorado for the Honda Indy 225 to support drivers Scott Sharp, winner of the IRL IndyCar® Series race at Kentucky Speedway this past Sunday, and Kosuke Matsuura.