Photo by John Thawley Lowe's Fernandez Racing drivers Adrian Fernandez and Luis Diaz will make their first start on the 1.7-mile JAGFlo Speedway Reliant Park circuit from the seventh spot overall on the grid after qualifying this afternoon for the Lone Star Grand Prix of Houston. Fernandez, who celebrated his 44th birthday today, handled qualifying duties, posting a best lap that was fifth among the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) LMP2 class. The biggest challenge for the team in the two one-hour practice sessions prior to qualifying was the handling of the #15 Lowe's Acura Lola on the extremely bumpy temporary circuit.
Tomorrow's two hour and 45-minute race ends a string of three consecutive street course events for the series. Following impressive runs at St. Petersburg and Long Beach that fell short, Fernandez and Diaz are hoping to finish the job this weekend. The pair are currently fourth in the driver championship -- three points out of third and nine points out of second. Lowe's Fernandez Racing is placed third in the team championship standings.
Adrian Fernandez, #15 Lowe's Acura Lola:
"First I have to thank Luis because it is my birthday and he let me qualify. It was his turn, but he let me qualify. As for today, we just struggle on tracks that are bumpy with the Lola chassis. When you go to smooth tracks where you can run the car low, it is good. The tracks that are bumpy like Sebring and here, we really struggle. The car doesn't ride the bumps. You have to raise the car and it loses downforce. You basically lose overall grip. It is something that we have to work closely with Lola to try to improve. Obviously, a lot of things can happen in the race. The track is very tight and very bumpy, but I feel confident that we will have a good run tomorrow."
Luis Diaz, #15 Lowe's Acura Lola:
"Basically we were trying to learn the track today and work on setting up the car. We had a little bit of trouble with the setup and we still need to fine tune it a bit more for tomorrow. The good thing here is that with old tires, the car is pretty good -- very 'raceable'. We couldn't find the time on new tires. I think we will show stronger in the race and that is the most important thing. It will be a tough race tomorrow -- very difficult with traffic -- but at the end, I think we should be competitive."