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Roberto Moreno named to drive Swift 007i

As a result of Christian Fittipaldi's second lap crash in last Sunday's Surfer's Paradise race, Roberto Mereno has been named to drive the Swift 007i in Sunday's Long Beach Toyota Grand Prix.

Moreno recently departed his ride with Payton Coyne in a sudden move by the team to contract Paul Jasper, Jr. just days before the Surfer's Paradise event. The Payton/Coyne signing of Moreno had been somewhat of a surprise, too, after extended testing with Jasper, Jeret Schroeder and Michel Jourdain earlier this year at Sebring.

The agreement is temporary, but certainly couldn't hurt Moreno's resume. The 38 year old Brazilian has the opportunity to drive for one of the premier teams in motorsports.

"I've talked to Christian to ask his permission to keep his seat warm," said Moreno. "I came to the United States in 1984 to establish myself in CART. Getting to drive for one of the most successful teams in CART is a great opportunity. Unfortunately, it's under the wrong circumstances." Said Moreno, speaking of Fittipali's situation.

"Moreno has lots of testing and racing experience," said team co-owner Carl Haas. "Myself, Paul [Newman] and the entire team feel terrible about Christian getting injured. We hope he recovers quickly and is back driving for us soon.

"We're glad Roberto was available on such short notice. We know we're putting him into a pressure situation but we feel confident that he will do a good job for us this weekend."

In 1996, Moreno made his return to the PPG CART World Series after a nine-year absence. His season was highlighted by a career-best third-place finish at the U.S. 500. His previous best was a fifth at the Miami Grand Prix in 1985. He finished 21st in the PPG Cup with 25 points. He also had top-10 finishes at Rio (9th) and Long Beach (8th).