CHAMPCAR/CART: Patrick Racing Houston final qualifying

HOUSTON, TEXAS - SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 30, 2000 - Round 18 of the 2000 FedEx Championship Series - Roberto Moreno qualified 14th while teammate Adrian Fernandez will line-up 16th for tomorrow's Texaco/Havoline Grand Prix of Houston. Moreno,...

HOUSTON, TEXAS - SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 30, 2000 - Round 18 of the 2000 FedEx Championship Series - Roberto Moreno qualified 14th while teammate Adrian Fernandez will line-up 16th for tomorrow's Texaco/Havoline Grand Prix of Houston.

Moreno, piloting the #20 Visteon/Patrick Racing Ford-Cosworth, began the day 13th on the provisional grid with a time of 60.450 seconds (90.938 mph). In morning practice, the Visteon/Patrick Racing team worked hard to find the proper set-up. Moreno, who is competing on the challenging 1.527-mile temporary street course that runs through downtown Houston for the first time, continued to learn the track. His fastest lap in the morning practice was 61.240 seconds (89.765 mph), which was 1.7 seconds fastest than his quick time yesterday morning. This still put him 21st on the morning practice report and 22nd on the two-day combined practice report. In final qualifying, Moreno, who ran with the first or "slow" group based on yesterday's provisional qualifying, improved both his car and his time, but fell one place on the grid. His quick lap of 59.617 seconds (92.209 mph) was his fastest of the weekend, the fourth quickest in his session and places him on the outside of row seven.

"The Visteon/Patrick Racing team had a very good qualifying session in my opinion. It could have been a little better, but on my second set of tires the pressure went up too high and we developed a push (understeer) that hurt us. On street circuits each lap that you run you get faster so you try and run your fastest lap on the last lap. Unfortunately, we had the problem with the tire pressure so we didn't quite go as fast as we thought we could. Overall, it was a very good day for the Visteon/Patrick Racing team. We tried some things this morning that didn't work, so we went in another direction this afternoon and it paid off. I am learning the circuit very quickly and we have a good race setup. Our aim is to have a very consistent car for the race and we have that. So, the Visteon/Patrick Racing team is looking good for tomorrow."

Moreno, who has qualified in the top-10 in nine of 18 races, is second in the FedEx Championship Series standings with 129 points. He is now nine points out of first place because series point's leader Gil de Ferran captured the pole for tomorrow's race picking up one point. The 41-year-old Brazilian will have his work cut out for him tomorrow if he is going to challenge for a podium finish. Houston is a notoriously difficult track to pass on; therefore, Moreno will have to rely on outstanding pit work from his Visteon/Patrick Racing crew, who are currently second in the Craftsman Pit Crew Challenge standings, and the uncanny abilities of Mr. Patrick and Patrick Racing General Manager Jim McGee. Combined, they have made a habit of coming up with brilliant race strategies and clever pit calls. Moreno, who has been among the points leaders all season, has finished in the top-10 in four of his last six races and placed in the points five times. The Weston, Florida resident 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).

Fernandez, driving the #40 Tecate/Quaker State/Patrick Racing Ford-Cosworth, started and ended the day in the same position. He was 16th on the provisional grid with a fast time of 60.717 seconds (90.538 mph). In morning practice he also showed improvement over Friday mornings practice session, running a quick time of 60.768 seconds (90.462 mph), which was the 15th fastest of the session and the 15th quickest time on the combined two-day speed chart. In final qualifying, Fernandez, in the first or "slow" group based on his provisional qualifying position, was running in seventh position and poised to move up, when he slid into the wall on one of the tricky, Houston 90 degree corners. His fast lap of 59.723 seconds (92.045) was a big improvement over the previous day and left him starting on the outside of row eight.

"I had just done my fastest lap and I was trying to do a better lap and went too deep into the corner. I pushed too hard and the Tecate/Quaker State/Patrick Racing Ford-Cosworth had a push (understeer) so it just went into the corner.

The track is very bumpy and that is one of the problems we have had... finding a good setup for the track. I though the car was getting pretty good at the end, but unfortunately we just didn't get to the next level. Tomorrow is another day and hopefully, we can change our luck. This hurt us as far as our starting position so the Tecate/Quaker State/Patrick Racing team will just have to find another way to get to the front in tomorrow's race. We have started from the back before and had good results, so, hopefully, we can do it again. A lot of things can happen in the race."

Fernandez, who was in 11th place in the FedEx Championship Series standings on July 2 and has been as high as third, following Vancouver, is currently fifth in the championship race with 121 points. He is in the thick of the championship hunt just six points out of third place and 16 out of first. With just three races remaining, a strong showing tomorrow is crucial to his championship hopes. The talented 35-year-old Mexican, who has tremendous support from the fans here in Houston, is working on a streak of 10 consecutive finishes in the points. He has placed in the top-10 in eight of his last ten races while compiling six top-six finishes in his last eight races with four top five showings and three podiums. He 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. Fernandez 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 has qualified in the top-10 in eight of 18 races and five of nine road/street circuits. In two previous races at Houston, his best finish is sixth (1998).

The Texaco/Havoline Grand Prix of Houston will be run tomorrow, Sunday, October 1 at 3:0o p.m. (CT) and will be televised live on ABC. k

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Gil de Ferran , Adrian Fernandez , Roberto Moreno