Adrian Fernandez and Luis Diaz took a third place LMP2 class finish and fifth overall in the Acura Sports Car Challenge at Mid-Ohio on Saturday, the latest round in the American Le Mans Series.

This is the first podium finish of the season for the Lowe's Fernandez team - and only its fourth ALMS podium in total.

Diaz started the race in the #15 Lowe's Acura ARX but battled understeer throughout his stint, a problem that hindered the team throughout the weekend. He turned the car over to Fernandez fifth in class and seventh overall on lap 40 - 50 minutes into the 2 hour 45 minute race.

Fernandez held the pace, running fifth in class and seventh overall as he dealt with a general lack of balance.

The face of the race changed for the team on lap 68 though, with just over an hour remaining, when Fernandez made his final pit stop of the day for fuel and tyres. Quick work by the team allowed Fernandez to gain a position over the #6 Porsche RS Spyder of Patrick Long.

Following a lengthy yellow period for a fuel fire involving de Ferran Motorsports [see sepeate story], Fernandez made a great re-start on lap 80 with 37 minutes remaining to pass fellow Acura driver David Brabham for second place in class and fourth overall.

A battle ensued among the LMP2 class front-runners and in the end, despite losing out to Brabham, Fernandez was able to re-pass Long to take the final spot on the LMP2 podium.

"Luis did the job that he needed to do and gave me a car that was complete. But I was having the same sort of problem that he was having. We just had too much push," said Fernandez. "To be honest, we were scratching our heads coming into this race by not knowing the problem.

"At the end, sometimes you are a pessimist about what may happen and things turn around. When we took our last set of tyres, the car just came alive. I managed to pass [David] Brabham. Then he made a big move on the inside of Turn One. It was quite risky and we had some contact. I was trying to be aggressive but also careful and he surprised me on the inside and retook the position.

"At the end, I was able to pass the #6 car [Patrick Long/Porsche RS Spyder] just the way Brabham passed me and we managed to finish third. It was a good day for Lowe's and Acura but a win would have been better.

"Gil [de Ferran] definitely had the car to beat. He was very fast at the beginning. I feel sorry for them. I don't know what happened but I was in my pit for our stop and I saw a lot of fire. I hope the mechanics and everyone are okay because it looked pretty hectic in my mirrors."

"It was a good day for us," Diaz agreed. "We finished with a good podium and I am happy for the team. We just need to keep pushing because we deserve more than this. It is a good result but I want to win just like everyone on this team.

"We discovered some interesting things at the end of the race that I think will put us back in the fight. My stint was tough. The start was a bit of a mess when they threw the green flag. Then traffic slowed me down quite a bit. I tried to hang there and give the car clean to Adrian. I'm happy. Adrian did a great job and kept pushing. At one point we were second but we have to happy. It was a very tough race."



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