CHAMPCAR/CART: Patrick Racing Chicago preview

Visteon/Patrick Racing Looking For Strong Start To Second Half Of 2001 Fedex Championship Series Season JACKSON, MI - - JULY 25, 2001 - - Visteon/Patrick Racing drivers Jimmy Vasser and Roberto Moreno head to Chicago Motor Speedway in ...

Visteon/Patrick Racing Looking For Strong Start To Second Half Of 2001 Fedex Championship Series Season

JACKSON, MI - - JULY 25, 2001 - - Visteon/Patrick Racing drivers Jimmy Vasser and Roberto Moreno head to Chicago Motor Speedway in Cicero, Illinois for this weekend's Target Grand Prix looking for a strong start to the mathematical second half of the 2001 FedEx Championship Series season.

With 10 races in the books and 10 remaining in a season that no driver is dominating, both Vasser and Moreno are looking to continue the success they have enjoyed at the first two Target Grand Prix races as they attempt to climb back into the middle of the fight for the 2001 Vanderbilt Cup.

Vasser comes to Chicago trying to halt a streak that has seen him finish in the points in just one of his last six races dropping him from a tie for third in the championship standings to ninth (50 points). For the 35-year-old native of California, who will once again carry Visteon livery on the #40 Patrick Racing Toyota Reynard, a return to the Windy City seems like the ideal place to exorcise the demons that have plagued him in recent outings. He has finished in the top-10 in both contests on the one-mile Chicago Motor Speedway oval placing third at the inaugural Target Grand Prix in 1999 and eighth last year.

"With all the bad luck the #40 Visteon/Patrick Racing team has been having lately, I think I am predestined to win the Target Grand Prix," Vasser said. Chicago Motor Speedway is a great track and one of the finest facilities we race at in our series. They do a great job of promoting the race and I am looking forward to going back there and competing. Hopefully, we can get some momentum going in Chicago that will help us get back into the fight for the 2001 FedEx Championship Series title," Vasser noted.

Vasser started the season strong finishing in the top-six in the first four races. Since then he has become the victim of everything from just plain bad luck to what can only be described as the bizarre. The list begins at Milwaukee where he was running in third place when he was knocked from the competition due to the questionable driving of another competitor. In Detroit he was in sixth place when he hit the wall while cleaning his tires during a yellow flag. At Portland he had to race with a badly sprained ankle, which he injured on race morning when he stepped on a power cable while exiting his motorcoach. Vasser placed fifth at Cleveland, but at Toronto he became entangled in an early lap melee, which put an end to his day. At Michigan he was running seventh when a mechanical problem put him out of the race.

The talented and determined resident of Las Vegas, Nevada has finished in the top-five four times this year and has placed in the top-six in five of ten races (Mexico - sixth; Long Beach - fifth; Nazareth - fourth; Japan - fifth; Cleveland - fifth). He comes to Chicago having finished in the top-five in two of the four oval races this year (Nazareth - fourth; Japan - fifth).

Moreno, who pilots the #20 Visteon/Patrick Racing Toyota Reynard, has, like his teammate, enjoyed success in his first to races at CMS placing in the top-10 both times with a best showing of sixth last year. He is looking to continue, and more importantly improve upon, those performances in this year's race.

"Chicago Motor Speedway is a very unique oval," Moreno noted. "It is a little like Milwaukee, but more slippery and you have hard braking going into Turn #4. I have been quick there before and I think the #20 Visteon/Patrick Racing team should be good there this year. I am looking forward to going back to Chicago and finishing on the podium," Moreno said.

Moreno and the #20 Visteon/Patrick Racing team have been extremely reliable and consistent throughout the first half of the season. The native of Brazil, who is tied for 11th in the standings with 44 points, has finished nine of the ten races and placed in the points in eight of ten races this year. Moreno has finished the most races and is second in laps and miles completed. The Weston, Florida resident has placed in the points in eight of his last nine races and on three of the four ovals this season (Long Beach - 11th; Nazareth - 12th; Japan - 10th; Detroit - third; Portland - second; Cleveland - eighth; Toronto - 11th; Michigan - 12).

Considered an underdog throughout his career, Moreno has earned a reputation as a fighter. Never one to give up he is confident that the #20 Visteon/Patrick Racing team can begin a string of podium finishes here in Chicago that will put him back into the top-10 in the point standings and eventually into the thick of the championship race.

"The #20 Visteon/Patrick Racing team must score a lot of points from now on to content for the championship title," Moreno said. "There is still a lot of racing left in the season and I know the Visteon/Patrick Racing team is capable of producing good results and fighting for the championship," Moreno concluded.

PATRICK RACING NOTES:

Patrick Racing History At Chicago:

Patrick Racing has four starts at Chicago Motor Speedway. They have finished in the top-seven three times with a best showing of fifth (Adrian Fernandez - '00).

Moreno And Vasser On Ovals:

Moreno has finished in the points in 14 of his last 18 oval races with ten top-10 finishes, six top-five performances and four podiums. In 62 CART career oval starts, Vasser has finished in the points 45 times with 42 top-10 finishes, 23 top-five showings, 12 podium appearances and five wins.

Consistency Key For Vasser And Moreno:

Vasser has started 157 CART races with 91 top-10 finishes including 26 podium showings. He has finished 91 of his last 113 races placing in the points 86 times (dating to Milwaukee `95). Moreno has finished in the top-10 in 22 of his last 43 starts and in the points 30 times.

Patrick Racing Scores Daily Double:

Patrick Racing has placed two cars in the top-10 twice this season (Japan - Vasser, fifth, Moreno, 10th and Cleveland - Vasser, fifth, Moreno, eighth). Both drivers have finished in the points four times this year (Long Beach - Vasser, fifth, Moreno, 11th;Nazareth, Vasser, fourth, Moreno, 12th; Japan - Vasser, fifth, Moreno, 10th; Cleveland - Vasser, fifth, Moreno, eighth).

Patrick Racing Scores High In Reliability:

Combining the stats of Moreno and Vasser, Patrick Racing is tied for first in finishes (15), third in laps (2409) and miles (3856.512), and fifth in points (94).

Patrick Racing Second in Craftsman Pit Crew Challenge:

After ten races Moreno's #20 Visteon/Patrick Racing crew is second in the Craftsman Pit Crew Challenge with 70 points. Vasser's #40 Visteon/Patrick Racing Toyota Reynard crew is tied for fifth with 60 points.

McGee Holds Record For Most Wins:

Patrick Racing General Manager Jim McGee is tops on the all-time wins list for a Manager/Chief Mechanic with 88. McGee has nine national championships and is the only Manager/Chief Mechanic to win a championship in four decades (60's - 90's). He has at least one victory in each of his last five decades (his 20's, 30's, 40's, 50's, 60's) and a least one victory in each of the last five decades (60's-00).

Patrick Racing Facts:

Patrick Racing, which enters its 29th year of competition in 2001, is one of the most successful teams in the history of Champ Car racing with 44 victories, three Indianapolis 500 wins and two national championships (1976 - Gordon Johncock and 1989 - Emerson Fittipaldi). U. E. "Pat" Patrick is the co-founder of CART and the "father" of the Dayton Indy Lights Series.

For background, statistical information, releases, notes, quotes plus updates on race weekends, go to (www.patrickracing.com).

-PR-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Adrian Fernandez , Roberto Moreno , Emerson Fittipaldi , Gordon Johncock