JACKSON, MI - - MAY 31, 2001 - - Patrick Racing drivers Jimmy Vasser and Roberto Moreno head to Milwaukee, Wisconsin for this weekend's Miller Lite 225 at the Milwaukee Mile looking to extend performance streaks that have the team in the thick...
JACKSON, MI - - MAY 31, 2001 - - Patrick Racing drivers Jimmy Vasser and Roberto Moreno head to Milwaukee, Wisconsin for this weekend's Miller Lite 225 at the Milwaukee Mile looking to extend performance streaks that have the team in the thick of the battle for the 2001 FedEx Championship Series crown.
Vasser, who finished fourth last week at the Indianapolis 500, will be back behind the wheel of the #40 Patrick Racing Toyota Reynard, as he seeks to extend both race, season and career streaks. The 35-year-old native of California has finished in the top-six in all four races this year placing sixth at Mexico, fifth in Long Beach, fourth in Nazareth and fifth in Japan. He is tied for third in the championship standings with 40 points, just nine points out of first. Additionally, Vasser has scored points in 44 of his last 59 (33 of last 40) oval races with 41 top-10 finishes, 22 top-five showings, 12 podiums and five wins. Vasser has finished 89 of his last 107 races placing in the points 85 times. A veteran of nine plus CART seasons, Vasser has 90 top-10 finishes including 26 podium showings, nine victories and seven poles in 151 CART starts.
"Racing in the Indy 500 was very exciting and I want to thank Mr. Patrick for allowing me the opportunity," Vasser said. "I thought I had a chance to place a little higher, but a top-four finish is better than nothing. However, that is in the past. Right now the most important thing is to focus on the CART Championship. Patrick Racing has been very consistent this year but, we need to step it up a notch and start winning races and finishing on the podium," Vasser concluded.
Vasser, who will be sporting a new paint scheme on his Patrick Racing Toyota Reynard this weekend, orange and black, will also be looking to extend a streak that has seen him finish in the points in seven of his eight races on the one-mile Milwaukee oval. In eight races the Las Vegas resident has qualified in the top-10 only twice, fifth in 1998 and second in 1999, but he has finished in the top-10 six times and the top-four three times including a victory in 1998.
"I have had success at Milwaukee almost every year I have run there," Vasser said. "I have run near the front the last few years and I see no reason to believe we won't continue that trend this year," Vasser noted.
Moreno, who pilots the #20 Visteon/Patrick Racing Toyota Reynard, has also been on a streak recently as he has begun to show the form that earned him a career best third place showing in the championship standings last year. The talented and personable Brazilian has finished in the points in three consecutive races, 11th at Long Beach, 12th in Nazareth and tenth in Japan, earning his first top-10 showing of the season in Japan. He is currently tied for 15th in the championship standings with six points. Moreno is also working on a streak that has seen him score points in 13 of his last 16 oval races. He has finished in the top-10 in 19 of his last 37 starts and in the points 25 times.
"The Visteon/Patrick Racing team has started a bit slower than we did last year," Moreno said. "The car has been very reliable and we have been scoring points, but we have to start finishing up front. It is early and we are, basically, just one good finish from being in the top-10, but you don't want to get to far behind and have to play catch-up the rest of the way," Moreno noted.
Moreno, who will be competing in Milwaukee for the seventh time, had his best performance on the challenging Milwaukee Mile last year, starting seventh and finishing fifth. In six previous attempts he has qualified in the top-10 three times and finished in the points three times.
"I consider the Milwaukee Mile to be the best one-mile oval ever in our series," Moreno said. "I very much like to race there. I am especially looking forward to this year's race because of the Toyota engine. The Toyota was strong in Milwaukee last year (first oval win for Toyota) and I think we can qualify and run well there this year," Moreno concluded.