CHAMPCAR/CART: Patrick Racing Fontana test and notes

JACKSON, MI - - September 20, 2000 - - Patrick Racing today concluded a very successful two-day test, September 19-20, at California Speedway in Fontana, California in preparation for the season ending Marlboro 500 on October 29, which could ...

JACKSON, MI - - September 20, 2000 - - Patrick Racing today concluded a very successful two-day test, September 19-20, at California Speedway in Fontana, California in preparation for the season ending Marlboro 500 on October 29, which could determine the winner of the 2000 FedEx Championship Series season.

"This was an excellent test," said Patrick Racing General Manager Jim McGee. "It was a test we needed because of the importance of the Fontana race to the championship fight, and because we had some problems at Michigan earlier this year. We just wanted to get some time on this speedway oval and get a jump on our preparation. Adrian (Fernandez) was very happy with his car after he ran, while Roberto (Moreno) started out pleased, but as the day wore on and the wind and heat came up, he wasn't as happy with the car. The good thing is we know what we have to work on, and have a very good starting point for when we come back in October," McGee said.

Fernandez, in the #40 Tecate/Quaker State/Patrick Racing Ford-Cosworth ran a total of 330 miles on Tuesday, September 19, and pronounced himself pleased with the results of the test.

"This was an positive test for the Tecate/Quaker State/Patrick Racing team," Fernandez said. "The way things look right now I believe the championship is going to come down to the last race of the season at Fontana. This test gave us a good opportunity to try a few things for the Fontana race. We did a little work on the set-up for qualifying, but qualifying for a 500-mile race isn't as important as on other tracks...except for taking the pole and getting the one point. If you don't take the pole, it really doesn't matter where you start. I started last at Fontana in 1998 and finished fourth. Last year I qualified 13th and won the race. The most important thing is to have a strong, consistent car for the race. That is what the Tecate/Quaker State/Patrick Racing team worked on yesterday and I think we came up with a good baseline. I am very happy with our results from this test," Fernandez concluded.

Fernandez, who is working on a streak of 10 consecutive finishes in the points, is currently fifth in the FedEx Championship Series standings with 121 points. He is just six points out of third place and 16 out of first. The 35-year-old Mexican has placed in the top-10 in eight of his last ten races. He has finished in the top six in six of his last eight races with four top five showings and three podiums. Fernandez has tallied points in 14 of his last 15 starts. He has finished 14 of 17 races this year (the most of any driver) each time in the points. The eight-year CART veteran, who is in his third season with Patrick Racing, has 12 top-10 showings (tied for first) including six top five finishes (tied for fourth) with four podium appearances (tied for fifth) and one win (Rio - tied for sixth). The Paradise Valley, Arizona resident is second in miles completed (3532.991 out of 3955.515), third in laps completed (2192 out of 2421) and tenth in laps led (73).

Moreno, behind the wheel of the #20 Visteon/Patrick Racing Ford-Cosworth, piled up an impressive 400 miles on the second day of the test, Wednesday, September 20. For Moreno, it was the first time he has ever run on the 2-mile high-banked California Speedway oval.

"This was a very important test for both myself and the Visteon/Patrick Racing team," said Moreno. "I have never been on the Fontana track, so the most important thing was to get in as many miles as possible so I could build up some confidence. We spent the first part of the day just letting me learn about the track and getting a feel for driving on it. It is a lot like Michigan, but there are definitely some differences, and because of the different weather conditions the track changes a lot. I think it was a very good test. I learned a lot and the Visteon/Patrick Racing team learned a lot about the car," Moreno noted.

Moreno vaulted back into second place in the FedEx Championship Series standings with a third place finish last week at Gateway International Raceway. The 41-year-old Brazilian, who is having a career year in his first season with Patrick Racing, has 129 points and is just eight points out of first place. He led the championship standings for the first time in his seven-year CART career earlier this season for almost a month, and captured his first CART victory and pole (both at Cleveland). Moreno has been out of the top five in the standings only once this year, after Monterey, and out of the top three, three times (Long Beach, Vancouver and Monterey). He has finished in the top-10 in four of his last six races and placed in the points five times. Moreno, who is driving a full CART season for just the third time, has finished 12 of 17 races (tied for fifth), each time in the points with 11 top-10 showings (tied for first) including seven top five finishes (tied for first) and five podium appearances (tied for second) with one victory (tied for sixth). The Weston, Florida resident is third in miles completed (3481.367 out of 3955.515), fourth in laps completed (2184 out of 2421) and fifth in laps led (138).

Next up for Patrick Racing is the Texaco/Havoline Grand Prix of Houston on the streets of Houston, Texas, September 29-October 1.

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