Patrick Racing Places Both Cars in the Points at Toyota Grand Prix LONG BEACH, CA - SUNDAY, APRIL 8, 2001 -- Round ...
Patrick Racing Places Both Cars in the Points at Toyota Grand Prix
LONG BEACH, CA - SUNDAY, APRIL 8, 2001 -- Round #2 of the 2001 FedEx Championship Series - Patrick Racing placed both cars in the points at today's Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach as Jimmy Vasser finished fifth and Roberto Moreno placed 11th.
Vasser, driving the #40 Patrick Racing Toyota Reynard started the race eighth. He was running in eighth place until the first pit stop when the Patrick Racing team utilized a brilliant strategy by short fueling the car and the crew put on a tremendous display getting the car out in third place. Vasser stayed in third until the second stop when the team, once again had a strong stop, but ended up in fourth place when Gil de Ferran short fueled and got out ahead (if not for a late yellow de Ferran, who was forced to run a lean mixture, quite possibly would have run out of fuel). On lap 64, while still in the thick of the battle, Vasser got caught up in traffic on a restart and Paul Tracy was able to pass him dropping Vasser to fifth where he remained until the checkered flag.
"Overall, the Patrick Racing Toyota Reynard was good and the Patrick Racing crew did a great job on the pit stops today," Vasser said. "If we had qualified a little better we would have been in the hunt a little more. We were running well, the car was a better race car than I thought. Unfortunately, I got a bad jump on the last restart. I spun my wheels too much and Paul (Tracy) got a good run. I was watching him in my mirrors and didn't see Adrian (Fernandez) slowing up and moving over and I had to checkup a little bit. That gave Paul enough to pull up alongside of me. I was going to try and take him on the outside, but Gil (de Ferran) was there so I had to get off throttle in the corner. We finished in the top five and got points, but really, a top five finish is just acceptable. The Patrick Racing team is here to win races and I know we can do it," Vasser concluded.
Vasser, who is now fifth in the FedEx Championship Series points standings with 18 points, has qualified in the top-10 in both races and finished in the top six both times. He has qualified in the top-10 six of ten times at Long Beach and finished in the top-10 seven times. The 35-year-old native of California also extended a streak that has now seen him finish 87 of his last 105 starts placing in the points 83 times (dating to Milwaukee in 1995). In nine plus CART seasons, Vasser has started149 races with 88 top-10 finishes including 26 podium showings, nine victories and seven poles.
Moreno, in the #20 Visteon/Patrick Racing Toyota Reynard, qualified 22nd, but quickly dropped to 25th when the team elected, for strategic reasons, to pit for fuel during a early yellow flag on lap ten. From that point he steadily began to move up the field. He was running in 18th position when the team decided to get him back in sequence pitting him two laps into the second full course yellow, which came out on lap 29. The strategy paid off later when the cars that had pitted with him on lap 10 had to come in for fuel. Moreno moved into 13th place and when another yellow flag came out on lap 55, he pitted for the third and final time coming out in 12th place. Later, while running under yellow, he had an incident with fellow Brazilian, and good friend Mauricio Gugelmin, when Moreno accidentally bumped Gugelmin from behind knocked Gugelmin from the race. Moreno took over 11th place where he finished.
"It was a tough day in the office and a tough day for the Visteon/Patrick Racing team," Moreno said. "We started way in the back and really had to fight all day to get into the points. The team had a good strategy today, but unfortunately, we could not take full advantage of it because of the yellow situation. We didn't have the best setup on the car, but towards the end, on low tanks, it was very good. We finished the race and made some valuable points, so overall I am happy."
Regarding the incident with Gugelmin, Moreno was apologetic saying, "Basically, everybody accelerated out of the corner and I looked down to change the map on the dash and when I looked up they had all stopped. I just couldn't catch it in time. There is no excuse for it, I made a mistake and I can only apologize at this point. I am really sorry because Mauricio is a good friend of mine, but all I can do is apologize publicly."
The 22nd qualifying spot was Moreno's lowest starting position in five attempts at Long Beach and his 11th place finishing spot was his third best (sixth in 1986 and ninth last year). This is the third time in five races Moreno has scored points in Long Beach. The two points he earned are his first of the season (he finished 27th in the season in Mexico). Moreno has now finished in the top-10 in 18 of his last 35 starts and in the points 23 times.
Next up for Patrick Racing is the inaugural Texas 600 at Texas Motor Speedway in Ft. Worth, Texas on April 27-29.