LEXINGTON, OHIO - FRIDAY, AUGUST 10, 2001 -- Round ...
LEXINGTON, OHIO - FRIDAY, AUGUST 10, 2001 -- Round #13 of the 2001 FedEx Championship Series - Visteon/Patrick Racing had one of their best practices of the season today in preparation for the Miller Lite 200 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio.
Jimmy Vasser, driving the #40 Visteon/Patrick Racing Toyota Reynard was third and teammate Roberto Moreno, behind the wheel of the #20 Visteon/Patrick Racing Toyota Reynard, was 12th on the combined speed charts following today's twin practice sessions.
Vasser, in the #40 Visteon/Patrick Racing Toyota Reynard, came off the transporter fast and remained quick throughout the one hour and 45 minute morning practice session. He ran as high as third and was in the top-10 for the majority of the session despite experimenting with different front wings, switching between his primary and backup car, and losing eight minutes at the end of the session due to a penalty held over from Toronto. Vasser's fastest lap in the morning session was 68.392 seconds (118.856 mph) putting him eighth on the morning speed charts. In afternoon practice the #40 Visteon/Patrick Racing team continued to make gains and improve the car. Vasser ran in the top-five throughout the session, then, with about forty minutes remaining he turned his fastest lap of the day clocking in at 66.788 seconds (121.710 mph). The time was the third fastest of the session and put him third on the combined practice.
"It is not a bad start for the #40 Visteon/Patrick Racing team. We are right there with the fastest guys, but it is only practice and there is room for improvement," Vasser said. "We started the day fast and continued to get faster as the day went on. The Visteon/Patrick Racing team has had good cars on the road and street circuits this year. It is not like we have been out to lunch, but we still need to make the car a little better for tomorrow. We have some ideas on how to improve the car and I am looking forward to trying some of those things and then having a good qualifying session," Vasser concluded.
Currently 10th in the 2001 FedEx Championship Series standings with 50 points,
Vasser is looking to string together a series of podium finishes beginning here at Mid-Ohio as he tries to get back into championship contention.
The native of California, who is making his tenth appearance on the challenging
2.2-mile Mid-Ohio permanent road circuit has qualified in the top-10 seven times in nine previous attempts. He has finished in the top-10 five times including four of the last six years while placing in the top-five three of the last five years. The 1996 CART Champion had his best performance at Mid-Ohio in `96 starting and finishing second.
Vasser has placed in the top-six in three of the six road/street races this year with a best showing of fifth at Long Beach and Cleveland. He has finished in the top-five four times this year and has placed in the top-six in five of 11 races (Mexico - sixth; Long Beach - fifth; Nazareth - fourth; Japan - fifth; Cleveland - fifth).
In 95 CART career road/street races, the Las Vegas, Nevada resident has finished in the points 56 times with 49 top-10 finishes, 25 top-five showings, 14 podium appearances and four wins. He has started 158 CART races earning 91 top-10 finishes including 26 podium showings. Vasser has completed 92 of his last 114 races placing in the points 86 times (dating to Milwaukee `95).
Moreno, behind the wheel of the #20 Visteon/Patrick Racing Toyota Reynard, came off the transporter in good shape spending most of the morning in the top-10. His fastest lap was 68.705 seconds (118.315 mph). The team continued to experiment in search of more speed during the latter part of the session, but was unable to make any dramatic gains and ended up 14th on the morning speed chart. However, in afternoon practice Moreno continued to improve. Despite a mishap that forced him into the backup car he notched a fast lap of 67.280 seconds (120.820 mph) making him 12th fastest for the session and putting him 12th on the combined practice report.
"The #20 Visteon/Patrick Racing Toyota Reynard came off the truck quite quick, Moreno noted. "The crew did a good job improving the car and we definitely made substantial gains during both practice sessions. I made a mistake in the afternoon practice and went off course, which forced us into the backup car. That actually worked in our favor because we learned things in that car that will help us in the race. Based on what we learned today, I think we can go the next step tomorrow morning and have a very good car for qualifying in the afternoon," Moreno concluded.
The native of Brazil, who is tied for 12th in the standings with 44 points, is looking for a strong performance here at Mid-Ohio as he attempts to climb back into the top-10 in the championship standings.
The Weston, Florida resident, who is making his sixth appearance at Mid-Ohio, has qualified in the top-10 twice with a best starting position of fifth in 1985. His best finish is 11th, last year, his first season with Visteon/Patrick Racing.
Moreno has finished in the points in five of the six road/street events this year with three top-10 showings including both the team's podium finishes placing a season high second at Portland and third at Detroit. He has finished in the points in 16 of his last 25 road/street course races with 12 top-10 placements, seven top-five showings and five podiums including one victory (career first, and only, Cleveland 2000).
The talented and personable father of two has been one of the most reliable and consistent drivers this year. He has completed ten of the 11 races, the most of any driver, and is second in laps and miles completed. Moreno has placed in the points in eight of the 11 races including five of the last six and eight of the last 10. He has four top-10 finishes and two podium appearances (Long Beach - 11th; Nazareth - 12th; Japan - 10th; Detroit - third; Portland - second; Cleveland - eighth; Toronto - 11th; Michigan - 12). Moreno has finished in the top-10 in 22 of his last 44 starts and in the points 30 times.
There will be another practice session tomorrow morning from 9:45 - 11:15 AM. Qualifying will be run in two groups with the first group (including Vasser) running from 1:45 - 2:15 PM. The second group (including Moreno) will take to the track from 2:30 - 3:00 PM. The Miller Lite 200 will be run on Sunday, August 12 at 12:00 PM (ET) and will be televised live on ESPN.