Mexico City: Andrian Fernandez preview

Mexico City: Andrian Fernandez preview
Apr 17, 2008, 4:57 AM

ADRIAN FERNANDEZ NO. 5 TEAM LOWE'S RACING MEXICO CITY NATIONWIDE SERIES PREVIEW For the fourth consecutive year, Team Lowe's Racing driver Adrian Fernandez, one of Mexico's most well-known sports figures, will drive a Lowe's-sponsored entry in ...


For the fourth consecutive year, Team Lowe's Racing driver Adrian Fernandez, one of Mexico's most well-known sports figures, will drive a Lowe's-sponsored entry in the NASCAR Nationwide Series race at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez road course in Mexico City.

This year marks the first time Fernandez will drive a JR Motorsports entry in this event. After JR Motorsports' team owner Dale Earnhardt Jr., arguably the most popular driver in America, signed a contract last year to drive for Hendrick Motorsports, the two organizations merged their Nationwide Series operations.

JR Motorsports also fields the No. 88 car driven by Brad Keselowski in the Nationwide Series.

JR MOTORSPORTS CHASSIS NO. 389 -- Adrian Fernandez will drive JR Motorsports chassis No. 389 in the Nationwide Series race in Mexico City. Fernandez and the No. 5 team tested this car at Sebring International Raceway in Florida just after the 2007 NASCAR season ended in November.

DOUBLE DUTY: In addition to competing in Sunday's NASCAR Nationwide Series race in Mexico City, Adrian Fernandez is also racing in the American Le Mans Series event in Long Beach, Calif. On Saturday, Fernandez and teammate Luis Diaz will race the No. 15 Lowe's LMP2 Prototype in the ALMS Grand Prix of Long Beach event in Long Beach.

FREQUENT FLYER: Adrian Fernandez will log quite a few hours in the air as he flies from Long Beach, Calif., to Mexico City and back throughout the weekend.

The schedule calls for Fernandez to spend Thursday, April 17, in Long Beach, where he will satisfy media requests and participate in two ALMS practice sessions. Immediately afterward, Fernandez will board his plane for the four-hour flight to Mexico.

On Friday, Fernandez is scheduled to attend a press conference at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez road course, then climb behind the wheel of the No. 5 Lowe's car to take part in both NASCAR Nationwide Series practice sessions scheduled for that day. As soon as practice ends, a waiting helicopter will take Fernandez to the airport for the flight back to Long Beach.

Saturday finds Fernandez with a full day of sponsor commitments, then the ALMS Grand Prix of Long Beach race. As soon as the race is over, Fernandez will head back to the airport, and is not scheduled to land in Mexico until close to 1 a.m. CT on Sunday morning.

After a few hours of sleep, Fernandez will arrive at the Mexico City track to meet Lowe's guests before attending the driver's meeting and participating in an autograph session with other Nationwide Series drivers.

A half hour later, he'll take part in driver introductions before strapping into the No. 5 Lowe's entry for the 80-lap Nationwide Series race.

As if that's not enough excitement for one weekend, Fernandez will climb back on a plane to Long Beach after the race for a full day of activities with his ALMS auto manufacturer on Monday.

Air Travel Statistics for the Fernandez ALMS/NASCAR "Double"

Total Flying Time 17 hours

Distance Traveled 6,241 miles (10,066 kilometers)

A BIG DAY IN MEXICO: Sunday, April 20, is a special day for Adrian Fernandez, for several reasons. Not only will he be racing in front of his many fans in Mexico, but he'll also celebrate his 45th birthday that day.

AN EVEN BIGGER DAY: Adrian Fernandez and his wife, Catalina, are expecting their second child -- a son, Niko -- to be born within the next two to three weeks. The couple's daughter, Valentina, will celebrate her first birthday on April 29.

HELPING HAND: With Adrian Fernandez scheduled to be in Long Beach, Calif., on Saturday, April 19, the No. 5 team is looking to an old friend for assistance. Fortunately, this friend just happens to also be a former Nationwide Series champion.

David Green, the 1994 Nationwide Series (then known as the Busch Series) champion, will drive the No. 5 Lowe's entry in Saturday's qualifying session at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez.

Green has a long association with the No. 5 team, as he was asked to fill the seat left vacant when driver Ricky Hendrick, son of Hendrick Motorsports owner Rick Hendrick, elected to end his driving career late in the 2002 NASCAR Busch Series season. Green continued to work with Hendrick Motorsports, acting as a coach to Brian Vickers, who won the 2003 Busch Series championship behind the wheel of the No. 5 car.

Green now serves as the driver for Hendrick's research and development team, which tests at various race tracks around the United States, gathering information and data for use by Hendrick's four NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams. He also serves as both spotter and coach for driver Landon Cassill, who is scheduled to drive the No. 5 JR Motorsports entry in 16 Nationwide Series races this season.


Other than the test at Sebring last November, you haven't been in a Nationwide Series car since this race one year ago. How long does it usually take for you to get back your level of comfort in these cars? "I would say by the fourth lap in terms of getting used to my braking points and things like that. This is a car that I have run before in Mexico and I know these cars pretty well on a road course. Even though most of the other drivers run these cars more than me, they mostly run on ovals. It doesn't take you long."

You won't be in the car for qualifying, which means you'll start at the rear of the field on Sunday. Are you concerned at all about having to race your way from the back of the pack? "No, because I have done it before. I did it the first year I was racing in Mexico and we almost won the race. I don't have problem. The race is plenty long enough. The main thing is to have patience and to be there at the end with no damage to your car. At the end, the strongest guys will always be at the front."

It's going to be a long weekend for you, flying back and forth to Long Beach and Mexico City. Do you have any concerns in terms of getting enough rest, fluids, etc.? "No, because I am organizing everything pretty well in terms of food, fluids and the schedule. I should be fine and actually I like the idea of not waiting around. One of the things that I don't like sometimes is waiting around. This weekend, things will happen a lot quicker and I like that. You don't have too much time to sit around and think. You go there and do your job, which I like."

What made you want to attempt the "double," racing in both series on one weekend? "We have done both races the last few years. Unfortunately, Mexico changed the date this year. Lowe's, JR Motorsports and myself always intended to do the race. Once we figured out that it was possible to do logistically, there was no question to do it. It is important for Lowe's and the market, and JR Motorsports was happy for me to do it. I think it is doable and we are lucky with the schedule that it can be done."

Coming from the open-wheel side and now ALMS, what's been the most difficult thing for you to master in learning how to drive these bigger, heavier cars? "It is just patience. You can't push these cars like you can an American Le Mans car. You have to be careful with braking, careful with tires. The cars roll a lot and they are very heavy. There can be a lot of contact in the race, so you just have to be more patient and more relaxed and you will go quick."

You're an accomplished driver, but you didn't have the easiest time when you drove some Nationwide Series races (then Busch Series) back in 2005. Were you surprised the strong finishes didn't come easier in NASCAR? "Not really. I expected it from what I saw with good drivers in the past that have attempted to go to NASCAR. Nobody has done it that quickly. Proof of that are the new drivers that have come from open-wheel racing in recent years -- Dario [Franchitti], Juan Pablo [Montoya]. Their results haven't been any different than my results in the first few races. These cars are difficult because they are so different than what we are used to and you have to get used to so many different things. But I really enjoyed my brief experience on the ovals, and I was very grateful to Lowe's and Hendrick for that opportunity and the opportunity to race in the future with them."

What would it mean for you to win in front of your Mexican fans? "It would be tremendous. It is always great to race in front of them. This race gives me a chance to see friends, family and a lot of fans that have supported me throughout my career. You hear them cheering for you and you have that extra bite to try to do your best in front of them."

ADRIAN FERNANDEZ AUTODROMO HERMANOS RODRIGUEZ STATISTICS : Adrian Fernandez has driven a Lowe's entry in all three Nationwide Series races held at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez road course in Mexico City. Fernandez piloted the No. 5 for Hendrick Motorsports in both 2005 and 2007, and drove the No. 57 for Hendrick in 2006.

Fernandez has finished on the lead lap in all three races, with his best finish being a ninth-place result one year ago.

-credit: fr

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