2017 Year in Review: Alejandro Fernandez
FINISH: 8th in GRC Lites points
2017 RESULTS: 11 starts, best finish 4th, 1 heat win, 458 points
2016 RESULTS: 11 starts, best finish 4th, 256 points
THE GOOD: For the fourth consecutive season, Fernandez ended the season as the GRC Lites Fan Favorite Driver of the Year, winning the online fan vote to complete a sweep for the Loenbro Motorsports-AF Racing alliance. Teaming up with Steve Arpin’s Supercar operation enabled Fernandez to share data and work with one of the top championship contenders in the series.
One of the most consistent qualifiers in the series, Fernandez qualified in the top four in six of his last nine starts of the season. The highlight was a pole position in Atlantic City, the second of the season for his team after Gustavo Yacaman’s pole run in Louisville. Meanwhile, Seattle saw Fernandez’s best finish of the season as he earned a fourth place result in the Sunday main event.
THE BAD: For the first time since joining the series in 2014, Fernandez missed a race, skipping the Indianapolis round as Champ Car veteran Matt Halliday climbed behind the wheel. That essentially locked him into eighth place in points for the season, as missing one race’s worth of points helped to put seventh place Cole Keatts out of reach for the Colombian as the season continued.
Beyond Indianapolis, finals in Louisville and Seattle also went off without Fernandez on the grid; too damaged to make it to the line in the Louisville LCQ and first Seattle main event saddled him with a pair of zeroes on the championship table. Unfortunately, those joined back-to-back finishes of ninth or worse in New England, and contact in the aborted start to the Los Angeles finale ended the season on a low note.
IN THEIR OWN WORDS: “I’d say I’m happy with what we’ve been able to accomplish. Our performance has been the best that we can do in every single race, and if something doesn’t go our way, we can only worry about the things we have control over. However it may look on paper, there are some things that are out of our control. We’ve just maintained that positive outlook.”
2018 PROGNOSIS: The most experienced Lites driver in series history, Fernandez has to be eyeing the step up to a Supercar for 2018 and beyond.
Photo credit: Louis Yio