Fernandez Ninth at Mexico City MEXICO CITY -- Adrian Fernandez wasn't happy after Sunday's Busch Series race in his home town. "Where did we finish?" he asked after climbing from the No. 5 Lowe's car. He shook his head when told he took the...
Fernandez Ninth at Mexico City
MEXICO CITY -- Adrian Fernandez wasn't happy after Sunday's Busch Series race in his home town.
"Where did we finish?" he asked after climbing from the No. 5 Lowe's car.
He shook his head when told he took the checkered flag in ninth place.
"You mean after all of that we still finished ninth," exclaimed Fernandez. "That's unbelievable. If we hadn't had half the problems we encountered we might have won this thing."
That summarized Fernandez's and his Hendrick Motorsports teammates' day at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez where as a young driver Fernandez made his first laps in a race car.
Sunday's race saw Fernandez post some impressive lap times but just when everything started to look good something always seemed to set him back.
He lost valuable time in the pits when the car fell off the jack, lost positions avoiding the wrecks of other drivers, and battled engine problems that plagued his race especially in the closing laps.
"It seemed like something was always happening," he said. "Our car was great. We were making up all of our positions in the corners but we lost a lot on the straight-aways. I think something was wrong under the hood and the guys are going to check it out when they get back home. But those things happen in racing. The Hendrick guys gave me a great car and never gave up no matter what happened today."
Fernandez started the race in 17th but it didn't take him long to show his road racing prowess by climbing to 11th before pitting on Lap 8 for tires and fuel. This strategy would enable the Lowe's team to finish the race with only two pit stops.
He put on a show driving up through traffic.
"Adrian your lap times are awesome," said Crew Chief Chad Walter. "You look like a top-five car. If we can get you track position we are going to be fine."
Fernandez returned to eighth, while saving the car, until Lap 45 when he came to the pits for tires and fuel.
That's when disaster struck.
A routine pit stop abruptly turned into a major problem when the car fell off the jack delaying the stop more than 30 seconds costing him many spots.
But the race wasn't over.
By Lap 52 he moved up to 12th and by Lap 63 he was eighth once again.
However, he lost two spots narrowly avoiding a Marcos Ambrose spin that nearly collected the Lowe's car. With just 23 laps remaining Fernandez raced in tenth.
But Fernandez couldn't pass on the straight-away and ominously reported a rising engine temperature. Amid a deluge of cautions late in the race, Fernandez raced hard to protect his position and ended the race in ninth.
"Yes, I am disappointed with the finish because I think we could have done a lot better with just a little luck," said Fernandez who was the center of media and fan attention through the weekend including a pre-race autograph session where he outdrew all other drivers.
"But this was fun. I am always honored to race in front of my home fans and the experience this weekend was fantastic."
It was his best NASCAR finish bettering a 12th place finish in 2006 and 10th place finish in 2005 also in Mexico City.
Juan Montoya made contact with teammate Scott Pruett sending Pruett off the track and Montoya into the lead in the closing laps to earn his first victory in the NASCAR Busch Series.