BROOKLYN, MICHIGAN -- SATURDAY, JULY 22, 2000 -- Round 11 of the 2000 FedEx Championship Series -- Patrick Racing showed improvement today as Adrian Fernandez qualified 12th and teammate Roberto Moreno 16th for tomorrow's Michigan 500 at Michigan...
BROOKLYN, MICHIGAN -- SATURDAY, JULY 22, 2000 -- Round 11 of the 2000 FedEx Championship Series -- Patrick Racing showed improvement today as Adrian Fernandez qualified 12th and teammate Roberto Moreno 16th for tomorrow's Michigan 500 at Michigan Speedway in Brooklyn, Michigan.
Fernandez, driving the #40 Tecate/Quaker State/Patrick Racing Ford-Cosworth, began the day as the 17th fastest driver having posted a quick time of 31.319 seconds (229.892 mph) during yesterday's twin practice sessions. During this morning's pre-qualifying practice, which was run in cool conditions, he worked hard to find additional speed and improved his time to 30.991 seconds (232.326 mph), but slipped one place to 18th on the combined practice report. The talented Mexican, who had turbo and electrical problems yesterday and a problem with the steering wheel today, worked extensively during practice on simulating qualifying runs, taking laps on his own without drafting. Therefore, he went into qualifying confident that his car would perform well. In qualifying, his confidence proved well founded as he ran a very competitive time of the 31.146 seconds (231.169) placing him on the outside of row six.
"The Tecate/Quaker State/Patrick Racing Ford-Cosworth was a very good car in qualifying. Overall I am pleased with our starting position. We had some problems this weekend and that didn't allow us to try as many things as we would have liked with the car, but we have a good car for the race. The Tecate/Quaker State/ Patrick Racing team also knows what it takes to win the 500-mile races. We have been there before. So I think our experience will be a factor tomorrow."
Fernandez has now qualified in the top-10 in seven of 11 races this year. His oval qualifying record this year, however, has been mixed. In addition to the 12th place starting position for tomorrow's Michigan 500 he has started a season best third at Miami, ninth at Nazareth, 10th at Milwaukee, 15th at Japan and 16th at Rio. This is his fifth highest starting position at Michigan Speedway in seven races. (In 1996 at the inaugural U. S. 500 he qualified second, but did not start due to a parade lap incident). It is his lowest starting position at Michigan since joining Patrick Racing for the 1998 season. He started on the front row the last two years taking the pole in 1998. Fernandez will be attempting to build on a streak that has seen him score points in seven of his last eight races (including Nazareth) moving him into eighth place in the FedEx Championship Series standings with 61 points. He is just five points out of fifth place. Fernandez has finished seven of ten races this year, placing in the top-10 six times, including a win in Rio. He has finished in the points seven times. In six previous races at Michigan, the 35-year-old resident of Paradise Valley, Arizona has finished in the top-10 twice with a best showing of third in 1995. Fernandez won his last 500-mile super-speedway race, the 1999 Marlboro 500 at MIS' sister track, the California Speedway in Fontana, California
Moreno, piloting the #20 Visteon/Patrick Racing Ford-Cosworth, went into morning practice 16th on the overall speed charts following Friday's practice sessions with a time of 31.253 seconds (230.253 mph). In Saturday morning practice, he too showed significant improved running a fast lap of 30.986 seconds (232.363 mph). However, he could not maintain his progress in qualifying as the fastest of his two timed laps was 31.567 seconds (229.086 mph) placing him on the outside of row eight for the start of tomorrow's race.
"The Visteon/Patrick Racing Ford-Cosworth was a little bit slower in qualifying than we were in practice this morning. I expected to qualify a little bit better, but I lost some speed in the middle of the corners. The car wasn't as fast as we would have liked, but it is fast enough. I think we will be okay for tomorrow's race. We have a good racecar. The Visteon/Patrick Racing team has a lot of experience and a very good strategy for the 500-mile races. I will be relying on Jim McGee and Mr. Patrick to make the calls, and the Visteon/Patrick Racing crew's work in the pits to get me up front tomorrow. Starting position for a race like this, if you don't have the pole, really doesn't matter because it is such a long race."
This is Moreno's second best starting position at Michigan in six attempts. His previous best was 13th last year. It is the second straight race that he has qualified 16th. The 41-year-old Brazilian has now qualified in the top-10 in eight of 11 races, with one pole. The 16th place starting position ties his season low and is his lowest starting position on an oval this year. He started fourth at Motegi, seventh at Miami, Nazareth and Milwaukee, and 12th at Rio. Moreno, who will be running just his seventh 500-mile race, will be competing at Michigan Speedway for the sixth time (four 500-milers and one 250-mile race). In his four previous 500-mile races at Michigan, the Weston, Florida resident has two top six finishes with a best of third in 1996 at the inaugural U. S. 500. Moreno, who leads the championship standings by two points over Michael Andretti, 90-88, has finished seven of ten races this year, each time in the top-10 including four podium showings. He captured his first career CART victory at Cleveland, took seconds at Miami and Portland and a third in Japan.
The Michigan 500 will be run on Sunday, July 23 at 1:30 p.m. (ET) and will be televised live on ABC.