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Lowe's Fernandez Racing Readies for ALMS Season Finale

The American Le Mans Series will close the books on its 2009 season this weekend with the Monterey Sports Car Championships Presented by Patrón at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Adrian Fernandez and Luis Diaz head to one of their favorite circuits to cap off an impressive season and a clean sweep of driver and team championship honors for Lowe’s Fernandez Racing and manufacturer titles for Acura.

 

Still on the table are the Michelin® GREEN X® Challenge final standings, which   Lowe’s Fernandez Racing leads by nine points over Patrón Highcroft Racing. The award is presented to one prototype and one GT team at each race that demonstrate the best overall performance and fuel efficiency with the least environmental impact. At the conclusion of this weekend’s race, the EPA (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency) and DOE (U.S. Department of Energy) in conjunction with SAE International will present Green Challenge awards to manufacturers in each class which have displayed the lowest score during the entire season.

 

Fernandez and Diaz enter the race weekend with unfinished business after a heartbreaking race last year that saw the #15 Lowe’s Acura, which lined up on the front row of the grid, fall from second in class and third overall with an hour remaining due to a faulty battery during their final pit stop. If the pair can return to form this weekend and vie for their eighth class victory of the season, they would tie the ALMS LMP2 class record for most wins in a season which is held by Penske Racing.

 

Race Notes:

•Circuit – 2.238-mile, 11-turn road course

•Race length – four hours

•Driver changes – a driver may not drive more than three hours total in the race

 

Of Note:

•Fernandez has made 15 career starts at Laguna Seca [Indy Lights in 1992, 11 Champ Car starts from 1993 - 2003, one Grand-Am race in 2006 and two ALMS races to date]

•Diaz has made eight career starts at Laguna Seca [Indy Lights in 2000 and 2001, Atlantics in 2002 and 2003, Grand-Am in 2005 and 2006 and in the ALMS the last two years]

•Diaz, who made his U.S. racing debut at Laguna Seca, is a former winner in       2005 Grand-Am competition

•Fernandez and Diaz claimed their best ALMS result at Laguna Seca in 2007, finishing third in class and fifth overal

•Fernandez and Diaz clinched the driver championship title at Mosport on August 30 and have posted seven class wins to date this season (Sebring, St. Petersburg, Long Beach, Salt Lake City, Mid-Ohio, Road America and Mosport)

•The pair brought home team championship honors and Acura engine and chassis manufacturer’s titles in the last race at Road Atlanta

•Lowe’s Fernandez Racing has won two Michelin® GREEN X® Challenge awards to date this season at St. Petersburg and Road America; the award acknowledges competitors that demonstrate the best overall performance and fuel efficiency with the least environmental impact

•In 32 ALMS starts to date, Fernandez and Diaz have claimed six class pole positions, seven class wins and 14 podium finishes

 

Fernandez on Laguna Seca: “I have been coming here for so long that it is hard to come up with new words to describe how much I love this event – the track, the fans, the area. It is a race that I always look forward to and I will be bringing my family again this year to share it with them. While I love Laguna Seca, it is also a bit of a thorn for me. I have had good races here but have never won and this is definitely on my list just like Elkhart Lake, where we managed a very gratifying win this year which meant a lot to me personally. We have been extremely strong here the last two years and are very optimistic for this Saturday. A lot can happen in a four-hour race but, hopefully, we will play it smart. We have some guests from Lowe’s joining us and it would mean a lot to give them a win this weekend.”

 

Diaz on the challenges this weekend:  “It definitely helps to come to this track with experience. It is really unique with all the elevation changes and it is thoroughly a pleasure to drive, but it can be tricky set-up wise. Based on the last two years, we know we have a great set-up for this track and I am very confident for the weekend. We had a bit of bad luck last year with a battery problem. Otherwise, we would have been on the podium for the second year in a row. Adrian and I have a lot of miles at Laguna, and this track holds a lot of special memories for me. My first race in the States was here and I won here with Scott Pruett in Grand-Am. It would be nice to add an ALMS win to those memories this weekend.”

 

Engineer John Ward on Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca:  “With the track’s short straights, low surface grip and sweeping corners, it will require maximum downforce from our Acura chassis. This requirement overrides concerns about aerodynamic drag. The mechanical setup of the chassis is chosen to provide good mechanical grip for the last corner which is slow and leads onto the longest straight. Care must be taken to keep a stable aerodynamic platform (ride height control) for the higher speed corners. So, compared to Road Atlanta, the aerodynamic choice is simple whereas the mechanical choices are more difficult. The race starts in the late afternoon and finishes at night. Typically, the conditions will start out somewhat warm to hot, but by the end of the race a marine layer will come in and really cool things down. Tire choice and tire management can make or break our race. Adrian, Luis and the team like the challenge of racing here.”

 


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