An early accident by a Mazda prototype sports car stopped qualifications Thursday at the famed Sebring International Raceway when driver Ben Devlin's car hit the Turn One barrier. Devlin walked away.
But due to the necessitated track repairs, the starting lineup for Saturday's 56th running of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring was determined by the best practice-lap speed from the three previous practice sessions.
After compiling times from the practice rounds, Adrian Fernandez recorded the top Acura time of one minute, 46.029 seconds on Wednesday afternoon for a speed of 125.626 miles per hour, and will start third in the No. 15 Lowe's Acura ARX-01b in the LMP2 division. Fernandez will co-drive with Luis Diaz Saturday in an effort to improve their impressive second-place finish in last year's Twelve Hours of Sebring, Acura's debut event.
The two Penske Porsches clocked the top two LMP2 times in practice.
Marco Andretti, seeking to duplicate his grandfather, Mario's, Sebring victories, drove the No. 26 XM Satellite Radio Acura ARX-01b to the fifth LMP2 starting position with a time of 1:46.632 and a speed of 124.916 m.p.h. Andretti will co-drive with defending LMP2 champion Bryan Herta and veteran open-wheel star Christian Fittipaldi.
David Brabham took the No. 9 Patron Highcroft Acura ARX-01b to the seventh starting slot at 1:47.819 (123.540 m.p.h.). The reigning 24 Hours of Le Mans champion will team with Scott Sharp, a former IndyCar Series titleholder, and two-time Sebring winner Stefan Johansson in the 10 a.m.- to-10 p.m. endurance classic. Brabham and Highcroft Racing finished fourth in LMP2 last year at Sebring.
Saturday's race will be seen on the SPEED Channel at 9:30 a.m.
ADRIAN FERNANDEZ (#15 Lowe's Fernandez Acura ARX-01b): "I think everybody is disappointed that we didn't qualify, but it was a big crash and we are happy that Ben [Devlin, Mazda driver] is okay. A big part of the preparation the past three days was to qualify and it would have been fun to at least have had five minutes to qualify. Now we have to change our focus to the race. We'll go through our checklists and make sure that Luis and I are comfortable in the car. I have a good feeling that we will be fine for the race. It is a long and tiring race. We would like to improve our finish from last year and get to the top of the victory stand."
MARCO ANDRETTI (#26 XM Satellite Radio AGR Acura ARX-01b): "This is incredibly disappointing because we've shown how quick the XM Satellite Radio Acura has been all week. I really think we would have gotten the LMP2 pole position, so I feel bad for the crew because that would have been a real boost for everyone. That being said, we have to understand that this is a 12-hour race and no one is going to win because they sat on the pole. We know that the XM Acura is very durable and we expect to make our way to the front very quickly."
DAVID BRABHAM (#9 Highcroft Racing Acura ARX-01b): "Though it was a shame we didn't get to see how strong we could have been in qualifying, we do know that we've progressed a lot during the week. We never went for an ultimate lap time in practice because we were concentrating on race setup, so ninth place on the starting grid doesn't really reflect where we are. It's a long race and we'll treat it that way."