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Lowe's Fernandez Racing Heads to Salt Lake City

Showcasing some of the fastest speeds seen in American Le Mans Series competition, the state-of-the-art Miller Motorsports Park facility will host this Sunday’s Larry H. Miller Dealerships Utah Grand Prix. Located 35 minutes southwest of Salt Lake City, the circuit is as physically demanding as it is challenging as drivers contest the “outer ring” course – a 15-turn configuration – with speeds topping 170 mph in the LMP2 class last season. This is the second year that ALMS teams will line up on the 3.048-mile perimeter course, moving from the 4.5-mile, 24-turn layout used in 2007.

Lowe’s Fernandez Racing drivers Adrian Fernandez and Luis Diaz are currently riding a hot streak with class wins in the first three races, but have been unable to capitalize on strong showings the past two years at Miller Motorsports Park. A third-place overall qualifying effort last year, which resulted in an inherited front row starting position after the second-place car of de Ferran Motorsports was relegated to the back of the grid for a tire change, netted only a fifth-place result. The team held the overall lead for 23 laps – just shy of the halfway mark – before damage from contact between the #15 Lowe’s Acura and  #20 Dyson Porsche eliminated all hopes of a podium finish.

Similar results befell the team in 2007 when a promising LMP2 class lead and a third-place overall run was eradicated by two separate incidents in the final 40 minutes.

Race Notes:
•Circuit – 3.048-mile, 15-turn road course
•Race length – 2 hours 45 minutes
•Driver changes – a driver may not drive more than two hours total in the race

Of Note:
•In two prior ALMS starts at Miller Motorsports Park, Fernandez and Diaz recorded their best results last year starting second overall and finishing fifth in class and fifth overall
•Both drivers have made one additional career start at the Utah circuit, contesting the Grand-Am race in 2006 – Diaz and then co-driver Scott Pruett started on pole and finished fourth; Fernandez, alongside co-drivers Mario Haberfeld and Vitor Meira, was eliminated by a mechanical problem while running third
•Fernandez and Diaz currently lead the LMP2 championship by 38 points following class wins at Sebring, St. Petersburg and Long Beach
•Their best overall finish was second at St. Petersburg
•Lowe’s Fernandez Racing currently leads the prototype category in the season-long Michelin® Green X® Challenge, which acknowledges competitors that demonstrate the best overall performance and fuel efficiency with the least environmental impact
•In 26 career ALMS starts to date, Fernandez and Diaz have claimed three class pole positions, three class wins, eight podium finishes and 12 top-five results

Fernandez on the challenges this weekend: “We’ve had a car that was capable of winning here the last two years, so we have a bit of a score to settle but it is going to be tough. Traffic is such a factor here and that is what knocked us off the podium two years running. I think it will be even more of a challenge this weekend with the addition of the GT3 cars [part of the ALMS Challenge].

“Set-up wise, the high altitude reduces the downforce level. With the medium and high speed corners, you need good aero balance and good mechanical grip to keep the downforce requirements lower. It should be an interesting weekend.”

Diaz on the circuit:  “This is a fast track, one of the fastest that we race on. It is very enjoyable to drive but it is very challenging because of the speeds and also because your entry and exit points for the corners are not easy to see. I really enjoy it. It is very smooth and wide with a lot of passing opportunities. It is quick like Sebring, and we have had very good results there. Physically, it is a demanding track because we pull a lot of g’s [g-forces]. I always look forward to this race. The facility is incredible and the fans are great. We have had a really good car here in the past and I am very confident for this weekend. The team has just done an incredible job this year in giving Adrian and I what we need to win.”

 


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