Visteon/Patrick Racing's Roberto Moreno Captures Pole for Tomorrow's Honda Indy 300 Teammate Jimmy Vasser will start 10th. Moreno began the day fourth on the combined practice report following Friday's practice sessions, which were hampered by...
Visteon/Patrick Racing's Roberto Moreno Captures Pole for Tomorrow's Honda
Teammate Jimmy Vasser will start 10th.
Moreno began the day fourth on the combined practice report following Friday's practice sessions, which were hampered by rainy weather, with a fast time of 97.612 seconds (103.082 mph). Today began with ideal weather conditions, but a track that still lacked the rubber necessary to get maximum grip. In morning practice Moreno gave an indication of things to come placing second on the practice report with a time of 93.679 seconds (107.409 mph). Running with the second, or "fast group", based on his 11th place position in the 2001 FedEx Championship Series standings, he quickly moved into the top-three where he remained until the closing laps of his first stint when he slipped into second place. After trying out one change, which was quickly reversed, the team put on new tires for the final run with eight minutes remaining. Moreno got the tires up to temperature and on the last lap in the last minute of the session clicked off the fastest time. The pole is the first of the season for Visteon/Patrick Racing and the second of Moreno's CART career (his first came last year at Cleveland).
"The Visteon/Patrick Racing team started the weekend very quick right out of the box. We had a good setup and just took things one-step at a time. Jimmy (Vasser) and I worked very hard together along with the engineering staff to improve the car and in the end we made the right decisions," Moreno said. "This was a team effort and a great job by the Visteon/Patrick Racing team. My engineer, David Dembecki came up with some brilliant ideas and the Toyota engine was fantastic. I was very fortunate to be in the second group for qualifying. That really made a big difference because there was more rubber on the track which gave it more grip," Moreno concluded.
The pole, coincidentally, was the 100th pole for Firestone Tires and came in Moreno's 100th career CART event. Patrick Racing also scored Firestone's first victory when Scott Pruett won the 1995 Michigan 500.
Moreno has now qualified in the top-10 for the 10th time in 20 attempts and for the fifth time in his last six races. In two previous qualifying efforts at Surfers Paradise his best starting position was 19th in his first race in 1996. His best finish is 12th that same year.
The native of Brazil earned one point for taking the pole. He remains in 11th place in the championship standings with 75 points, but has cut the distance to 10th to eight points. The eight-year CART veteran, who is in his second season with Visteon/Patrick Racing, will be looking tomorrow to snap a streak in which he his has failed to score points in four consecutive races and earn his second victory of the season. He took his second career win, and second street circuit victory, five races ago at Vancouver.
Moreno has been one of the most reliable and consistent drivers this year. He has finished 14 of 18 races, tied for second most, placing in the points 11 times. The Weston, Florida resident has finished in the top-10 six times with three podiums and one win. Moreno has been exceptionally strong on the road/street circuits this year. He has points paying finishes in five of the six street races with three top-10 showings, two podium appearances and a win. Moreno has finished in the points in eight of 11 road/street events this year with five top-10 showings including three podiums and the win. He has finished in the points in 21 of his last 34 road/street course races with 16 top-10 placements, nine top-five showings, six podiums and two wins. Moreno has finished in the top-10 in 24 of his last 51 starts and in the points 33 times.
Vasser started the day at the top of the combined practice report following Friday's truncated sessions with a fast time of 96.911 seconds (103.827 mph). In Saturday morning practice he also looked to be vastly improved until a mechanical problem with six minutes remaining in the session forced him from the track. Never the less he managed to post a fast time of 94.643 seconds (106.315 mph) putting him ninth on the morning practice report. Vasser qualified with the first or "slow" group because of his 13th place standing in the championship race. As a result he was competing on a slower track, due to less rubber and therefore grip, however the numerous red flags that interrupted several fast laps did more to hinder his performance. His fastest lap was run on his first set of tires and came in at 93.447 seconds (107.676 mph). He had a least two laps that were faster nullified by red flags and during his final stint he was running .25 seconds faster when he went into a chicane too fast and hit the wall ending his session.
"The first qualifying session was crazy," Vasser said. "I had a couple of fast laps going, but the red flags cut them short. My last lap was going to be .25 faster, but I knew I needed more. I was going for it big and went into the chicane too fast. I was just going for it and went in to quick. The good news is I know I have quick car and a good car for the race," Vasser noted.
Vasser has now qualified in the top-10 eight times in 20 attempts and for the first time in his last seven tries. He is starting in the top-10 for the eighth time in 10 attempts at Surfers Paradise and for the eighth time in his last nine appearances (he took pole in 1996). In his nine previous races the native of California has finished in the points four times including three top-10 showings, two podiums and a victory in 1996.
Vasser is 13th in the championship standings with 68 points, 15 points out of 10th.
He is looking to extent a streak that has seen him finish in the points in his last three races as he attempts to finish in the top-10 in the championship standings for the seventh consecutive year. Vasser has scored points in eight of 18 races this year placing in the top-10 seven times, the top-six six times and the top-five five times. His best finish is a fourth at Nazareth. The Las Vegas, Nevada resident has finished in the points in five of the of 11 road/street races, with four top-six showings. He has started 100 CART career road/street races finishing in the points 58 times with 50 top-10 finishes, 26 top-five showings, 14 podiums and four wins. In 165 CART career starts Vasser has 93 top-10 finishes including 26 podium showings. He has finished 96 of his last 121 races placing in the points 89 times (from Milwaukee '95).
Visteon/Patrick Racing has been especially strong on road/street circuits this Year. Visteon/Patrick Racing has had their best performances of the season on the street circuits in 2001. In six street races, 12 starts, Moreno and Vasser have combined to produce eight finishes in the points with five top-10 performances, four top-five showings and two podium appearances including a win. Of the 11 road/street races, 22 starts, Visteon/Patrick Racing has finished in the points 13 times, with nine top-10 showings, six top-five, three podiums and a win.
Although their qualifying record is not particularly strong here at Surfers Paradise, Patrick Racing's overall record is even very impressive. This is the team's first pole in 12 attempts, however, in seven races, 11 starts, they have finished in the points a remarkable 10 times with nine top-10 finishes, seven top-five performances, five podium appearances and two wins (Pruett - 1997 and Fernandez - 2000).
The Honda Indy 300 will be run on Sunday, October 28 at 3:00 PM (local time) and will be televised on ESPN at 3:30 PM (ET)
For background, statistical information, releases, notes, quotes plus updates on race weekends, go to (www.patrickracing.com).