CHAMPCAR/CART: Fontana: Patrick Racing race report

Originally-From: Kevin Diamond <kdpr@worldnet.att.net> Visteon/Patrick Racing has tremendous race at the 500 Presented by Toyota. Oriol Servia starts last and finishes fifth scores race's fastest lap. FONTANA, CALIFORNIA -- SUNDAY, ...

Originally-From: Kevin Diamond <kdpr@worldnet.att.net>

Visteon/Patrick Racing has tremendous race at the 500 Presented by Toyota.
Oriol Servia starts last and finishes fifth scores race's fastest lap.

FONTANA, CALIFORNIA -- SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 3, 2002 -- Round #18 of the 2002 FedEx Championship Series - Visteon/Patrick Racing had a tremendous race today as driver Oriol Servia went from last on the starting grid to finish fifth in The 500 presented by Toyota at California Speedway in Fontana, California.

Servia, behind the wheel of the #20 Visteon/Patrick Racing entry, with Toyota power and Bridgestone tires, also scored the fastest lap of the race turning a time of 31.469 seconds (232.114 mph) on lap 234 of the 250-lap competition.

Servia, who qualified a season low 18th, had one of the best starts to a race in recent memory picking up seven spots on the first lap. Following the outstanding start the talented 28-year-old native of Pals, Catalonia, Spain drove a patient and technically flawless race despite having to make several adjustments to the car. Two laps after the start Servia dropped back two spots to 13th where he remained until lap 20 when he slipped one more place to 14. Pitting for the first time on lap 33, the maximum pit window for this race, he reemerged in 13th place, but quickly moved up to 12 when Bruno Junquiera lost his wheel. Servia remained just outside the top ten through the second and third stints, but climbed into ninth place on lap 102 following his third pit stop. He remained in the top ten through the next three stints, but was back on the move on lap 200 jumping three places in the standings over the next 15 laps. The resident of Miami, Florida moved into sixth place on lap 219 when Michel Jourdain dropped out with a blown engine and up to fifth on lap 237 when Cristiano da Matta dropped out. At that point Servia was a lap down to the top two drivers, but obviously had the fastest car on the track. Just as he was attempting to un-lap himself, Dario Franchitti forced a yellow when his car caught on fire on lap 242. Unfortunately, when the race was restarted there simply were not enough laps left for Servia to move up any higher in the standings.

"Of course I am happy to have finished fifth, but fifth is still fifth. If we had finished on the podium, or won the race, I would be more satisfied," Servia said.

"The Visteon/Patrick Racing Team had a good start to the race and we also had good restarts. I like the starts and the restarts at this track. I have a good feel and rhythm here. But it is always easier to pick up a lot of places at the start of the race when you qualify last. When you start second or first there aren't a lot of cars to pass. Next time I am here I would prefer not to pass any cars at the start because I am starting on the pole," he joked.

Servia continued by saying, "Every pit stop we changed the Visteon/Patrick Racing car and each time we made a change, the car got better. The improvement really showed at the end of the race when we did the fastest lap of the race. We just got the car setup correctly a little too late in the weekend. The main problem we had the whole weekend was understeer. We had a big push. Finally, in the race, we were able to take it out.

"The Visteon/Patrick Racing Team didn't make a single mistake during the race. Everybody on the team, the engineers, the mechanics, everybody did their job and did it well. We did a good job today to come from last to fifth, but to win in this series you have to do everything from the start of the weekend through the end of the race perfect. Plus, you need a little magic," Servia explained.

Servia, who was competing in his 52nd career CART event, 12th of the 2002 FedEx Championship Series season, ninth for Visteon/Patrick Racing and third at California Speedway, earned ten points for today's fifth place finish and moved up one spot in the championship standings to 17th with 40 points.

Today's top-five showing is the third best (Third - Detroit - 2000; Fourth - Rockingham - 2002), fifth top-five (Detroit - 2000; Rockingham - 2002; fifth Vancouver and Germany in 2001) and 16th top-ten finish of his CART career. Servia has now finished in the points seven times, in the top-ten five times and in the top-five twice this year with a best showing of fourth at the Rockingham 500 in Corby, England. This is his fourth points paying finish for Visteon/Patrick Racing and second top-five performance (Rockingham). It is also Servia's best finish at Fontana in three races.

Next up for Visteon/Patrick Racing is the 2002 FedEx Championship Series finale, the Mexico Gran Premio 2002 at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriquez in Mexico City, Mexico, November 15-17.

-pr-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Bruno Junqueira , Dario Franchitti , Oriol Servia , Michel Jourdain