DETROIT -- Roberto Moreno is 11th and Adrian Fernandez 15th on the grid following Fridayâ€™s provisional qualifying for the Tenneco Automotive Grand Prix of Detroit here on the Belle Isle street circuit. Moreno, in the ...
DETROIT -- Roberto Moreno is 11th and Adrian Fernandez 15th on the grid following Friday’s provisional qualifying for the Tenneco Automotive Grand Prix of Detroit here on the Belle Isle street circuit.
Moreno, in the #20 Visteon/Patrick Racing Ford-Cosworth, struggled in the morning practice session but came on strong in the afternoon provisional qualifying, running a quick time of 75.686 seconds (111.587 mph). He was 16th after the morning session with a time of 76.825s. as the Visteon/Patrick Racing team worked diligently to balance the car and find the proper setup. Only after extensive review and analysis by the drivers and engineering staff, during the break between the morning practice and afternoon provisional qualifying session, was the team able to get the car to a point where Moreno felt it was competitive.
“The Visteon/Patrick Racing team made tremendous progress this afternoon. We came here with a setup that we struggled with during the morning practice session," Moreno said. "During the break between sessions, the engineering staff did a great job getting things sorted out and finding a decent setup. By the end of the afternoon session, things were greatly improved. Now we have a car that we can work with. We just need to do a little fine-tuning tomorrow morning and we should be very strong for qualifying tomorrow afternoon.”
Because the Belle Isle street circuit is so difficult to pass on, qualifying takes on added importance if Moreno is going to have a chance to win the race and move up in the FedEx Championship Series standings. Moreno will be competing on the difficult Detroit street circuit for the fourth time. In his three previous races he has qualified in the top five twice with a high of 3rd in 1997. His best finish is 5th, also in 1997.
The talented Brazilian has solidified his position as a championship contender, having finished in the top 10 in five of six races this year. He is currently 2nd in the championship standings with 52 points and is just seven points out of 1st place. Among his five top-10 finishes are three top-five placements with two podium showings, including a CART career-best-tying 2nd in the season opener in Miami.
Fernandez had an equally difficult time in morning practice but also showed improvement in the afternoon provisional qualifying session. He was 17th on the speed charts after the morning session with a time of 77.094 seconds (109.549 mph). He moved up two places on the grid in provisional qualifying with a quick lap of 75.871 seconds. His improved time was an indication that the car felt much better; however, he would have been even faster, possibly in the top 10, if he had not brushed the wall toward the end of the session while on a “hot” lap.
“The Tecate/Quaker State/Patrick Racing team made a lot of changes during the afternoon session," Fernandez said. "The car felt good. Unfortunately, I went a little too deep into the corner on one of my laps and I crashed. That set us back a little. The good thing is we know the right direction to go with the setup so I am very confident for tomorrow’s qualifying.”
Fernandez, who is looking to get back into the top five in the standings, has enjoyed some success on the Detroit street circuit despite suffering a fractured arm in an accident during Friday practice last year. In six races he has qualified in the top 10 three times, including 3rd twice (1996 and 1998). He has finished in the top seven four times, with a best showing of 2nd in 1998. The personable Mexican, who was a preseason favorite to take the 2000 FedEx Championship Series title, has driven the #40 Tecate/Quaker State/Patrick Racing Ford-Cosworth back into contention with four consecutive top-10 finishes, including his sixth career CART victory -- in Rio -- after failing to finish the first two races of the season due to mechanical problems. He is in 8th place in the standings, only six points out of 4th place and 10 out of 3rd.
Final qualifying for the Tenneco Automotive Grand Prix of Detroit will begin at 1:45 p.m. ET Saturday. The race will be run on Sunday, June 18, at 1:00 p.m. ET and will be televised live on ESPN at 1:00 p.m. ET.
'Pat' Patrick (on Bobby Rahal replacing Andrew Craig):
“The board and Andrew agreed that the company needed to go in a different direction and Andrew decided that it was time to pursue other options," Patrick said. “I think this is a huge day in CART history. For the first time since I resigned as the head of the company [in the early ‘80s], an owner -- someone who is very familiar with the inner workings of the sport -- is the CEO of CART. To run this business, you have to know the business and its intricacies.
"It is a complex sport and you need to communicate. We couldn’t have made a better choice," Patrick said. "Both Bobby Rahal [interim president and CEO] and Jim Hardymon [chairman of the board] are highly respected by the board, the owners, the promoters and the sponsors, as outstanding businessmen.”
“We are searching for a permanent CEO," he said. "We are looking for someone who is totally versed and familiar with the sport.”