CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - SATURDAY, JULY 29, 2000 -- Round 12 of the 2000 FedEx Championship Series - Patrick Racing's Roberto Moreno qualified 13th and Adrian Fernandez 19th for tomorrow's Target Grand Prix at Chicago Motor Speedway in Chicago, ...
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - SATURDAY, JULY 29, 2000 -- Round 12 of the 2000 FedEx Championship Series - Patrick Racing's Roberto Moreno qualified 13th and Adrian Fernandez 19th for tomorrow's Target Grand Prix at Chicago Motor Speedway in Chicago, Illinois.
This is just the third time this season that Patrick Racing has failed to qualify at least one car in the top-10. All three times have occurred on ovals. In the two previous races in which both cars have started beyond the fifth row the results have been remarkably good. At Rio, Fernandez started 16th and won the race while Moreno started 12th and finished sixth. Last week at Michigan, Fernandez started 12th then led the race for 13 laps before finishing sixth. Moreno started 16th, struggled throughout the race, and retired with a mechanical failure in 23rd place.
Moreno, in the #20 Visteon/Patrick Racing Ford-Cosworth, began the day eighth on Friday's combined practice report (combined times of both practice sessions) with at quick lap of 22.846 seconds (162.147 mph). In today's morning practice session the Visteon/Patrick Racing team continued to fine-tune the car and although they improved their time to 22.496 seconds (164.669 mph) they ended up 12th on the combined two-day practice report. Despite slipping the four places the Visteon/Patrick Racing crew made some changes to the car that they felt improved its performance, and both Moreno and the team were optimistic heading into qualifying. However, in qualifying the Visteon/Patrick Racing Ford-Cosworth developed a push (understeer), which required Moreno to back off during his qualifying run thus ending any hopes of advancing up the grid. His time of 22.574 seconds (164.100 mph) places him on the inside of row seven for the start of the race. Even more important is that the understeering situation that exists on the current set-up, while not ideal for the flat out speed required for qualifying, is exactly the set-up needed to race on an oval. Therefore, much of Moreno's disappointment over not qualifying as high as he expected, was tempered by the fact that he is confident that he has a superb racecar for tomorrow's competition.
"The Visteon/Patrick Racing Ford-Cosworth had a bit of an understeer (push) half way into turn two and I had to brake very hard. We didn't get the set-up quite right and I had to back off. That cost me a lot of momentum so my first qualifying lap was terrible. The second time I anticipated the push and went a bit slower into the corner and I got a good lap. The back of the Visteon/Patrick Racing car is very good and we have the kind of understeer that you want to start the race with, so we have a good racecar again."
"The Visteon/Patrick Racing crew has worked very hard on the gearbox and I think we have the solution to prevent the problems we have experienced the last two races. I will also be very careful with the gearbox. With the set-up we have for the race, so I think we should be very competitive tomorrow."
Moreno, who started eighth here last year, has now qualified in the top-10 in eight of 12 races, with one pole. His qualifying record on ovals is remarkably consistent. In addition to the 13th place starting position here at Chicago, he has qualified fourth at Motegi, seventh at Miami, Nazareth and Milwaukee, 12th at Rio and 16th at Michigan. Moreno, who led in the FedEx Championship Series for almost a month, is currently second in the championship race. The 41-year-old Brazilian, trails series leader Michael Andretti by 14 points, 104-90. Moreno has finished seven of 11 races, 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 Weston, Florida resident is first in prize money earned, fourth in laps and miles completed and fifth in laps led. The talented and personable Moreno is racing at Chicago Motor Speedway for the second time. At the inaugural Target Grand Prix Moreno he finished ninth.
Fernandez, driving the #40 Tecate/Quaker State/Patrick Racing Ford-Cosworth, began the day tenth on the combined practice report with a time of 22.890 seconds (161.835 mph). In morning practice the Tecate/Quaker State/Patrick Racing team continue to make changes to the car as they searched for the proper balance. They ended up 17th on both the speed charts for the session and the combined practice report. For qualifying the team made some significant changes to the car, but still couldn't quite get the car properly balanced running a time of 22.866 seconds (162.005 mph). His starting position, the inside of row ten, is his lowest of the year.
"The Tecate/Quaker State/Patrick Racing team changed the car this morning from the set-up we had yesterday and I wasn't very happy with the handling of the car. We missed the set-up this morning and with a 45-minute session you don't have much time to get the car back the way you want it. So, we had to make some drastic changes for qualifying this afternoon and we didn't quite get it right. The car was pushing (understeer) in one part of the corners and loose (oversteer) in another. We just didn't have the right balance for qualifying. This is a very difficult track to pass on, so I am going to have to rely on the Tecate/Quaker State/Patrick Racing crew doing another good job in the pits and our race strategy to help me get to the front tomorrow." Fernandez has now qualified in the top-10 in seven of 12 races this year. His oval qualifying record this year continues to be mixed. In addition to the 19th place starting position for tomorrow's Target Grand Prix he has started a season best third at Miami, ninth at Nazareth, 10th at Milwaukee, 12th at Michigan, 15th at Japan and 16th at Rio. Fernandez, who is on a streak that has seen him finish in the points in eight of his last nine races, is sixth in the FedEx Championship Series standings with 69 points. He is just six points out of fourth place and 11 out of third. The 35-year-old Mexican has finished eight of 11 races this year, placing in the top-10 seven times, including a win in Rio. He has finished in the points eight times. The Paradise Valley, Arizona resident is sixth in prize money, laps and miles completed; and eighth in laps led. This will be the first time Fernandez has raced on the one-mile Chicago Motor Speedway oval. He missed last year's inaugural Target Grand Prix with a fractured radius of the right forearm suffered in practice at the Detroit Grand Prix.
The Target Grand Prix will be run on Sunday, July 30 at 3:00 p.m. (CT) and will be televised live on ABC at 4:00 p.m. (ET).