JACKSON, MI - - JULY 19, 2001 - - Patrick Racing driver's Jimmy Vasser and Roberto Moreno will both looking to get back into the thick of the 2001 FedEx Championship Series title hunt with solid performances at the Michigan 500, July 20-22 at ...
JACKSON, MI - - JULY 19, 2001 - - Patrick Racing driver's Jimmy Vasser and Roberto Moreno will both looking to get back into the thick of the 2001 FedEx Championship Series title hunt with solid performances at the Michigan 500, July 20-22 at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Michigan.
Patrick Racing will be saying farewell to MIS as this will be the last time CART competes on the venerable 2-mile superspeedway oval. However, if history is any indication the team has plenty of reason to be confident heading into this weekend. In 29-years of competition Patrick Racing has started more races and had its best results at MIS. Moreno and Vasser will be starting for a team record 80th and 81st time at MIS. In 79 previous starts, Patrick Racing has finished in the top-10 41 times, with 25 top-five placements, 17 podium appearances and six victories (tied with Phoenix for most in team history).
Vasser, in the #40 Visteon/Patrick Racing Toyota Reynard, will be competing at MIS for the ninth time. The 35-year-old native of California has enjoyed considerable success at Michigan. In eight previous starts he has qualified in the top-six seven times and in the top-five six times including three poles (1996 - U. S. 500; 1996 - Michigan 500; 1999 - U. S. 500). He has finished in the top-10 five times including a victory in 1996 and a second place showing in 1998.
"I have enjoyed racing at Michigan over the years," Vasser said. "I have had a lot of success and have a lot of good memories. It is unfortunate that this will be our last race at this facility, but that is something for other people to decide."
Vasser is coming off a disappointing 26th place showing at Toronto. He became entangled in an incident involving his teammate (Moreno) on lap five that, unfortunately, ended his day. The Las Vegas, Nevada Resident started the season well finishing in the top-six in the first four races of the season. He then ran into a bit of bad luck and placed out of the points in the next three contests before rebounding with a fifth place finish at Cleveland. He has finished in the top-five four times this year and has placed in the top-six in five of nine races (Mexico - sixth; Long Beach - fifth; Nazareth - fourth; Japan - fifth; Cleveland - fifth). Vasser is currently eighth in the championship standings with 50 points.
"The #40 Visteon/Patrick Racing team has run into some bad luck, but that is racing," Vasser said. "We have had some good results this year. When we have finished we have consistently finished in the top five or six. However, we are past the midway point of the season and we haven't finished on the podium or won a race. The Visteon/Patrick Racing team has done a great job. They have given me a very reliable and fast racecar every time out, but we just haven't been able to get on the podium. There is still a lot of racing left and fortunately, no one seems to want to take control of this championship, but to win the title you have got to be consistent and win some races," Vasser concluded.
Moreno, piloting the #20 Visteon/Patrick Racing Toyota Reynard, has also enjoyed some success at MIS. This will be his sixth start at Michigan. In five previous appearances his best starting position is 13th. However, he has finished in the top-six twice, placing sixth in his first race at MIS in 1986, and placing third in his second race, ten years later, at the inaugural U. S. 500.
"I am looking forward to this weekend's race at Michigan," Moreno said. "It is unfortunate that it is the last time we will race there. I have had some success at MIS. I remember I finished sixth the first time I went there in just my second speedway oval start. Then, the second time I race there was ten years later and I finished third. Michigan will always have special memories for me. It would be nice to win the last time we race there," Moreno noted
Moreno is coming off a hard fought 11th place finish at Toronto. After starting ninth he was the victim of some overly aggressive driving by Paul Tracy that resulted in a four-car pile-up. The incident, which also claimed teammate, put the native of Brazil in 25th place and down one lap. Battling back, Moreno was able to finish in the points for the seventh time in his last eight starts. He has finished in the points in seven of the nine races this season (Long Beach - 11th; Nazareth - 12th; Japan - 10th; Detroit - third; Portland - second; Cleveland - eighth; Toronto - 11th) and is now tied for 11th in the championship standings with 43 points.
"The #20 Visteon/Patrick Racing Toyota Reynard has been very reliable this year and the crew has done a tremendous job preparing the car and in the pits, Moreno said. "We have had a couple of incidents the last two races that have hurt our chances a bit, but we still managed to fight back and score valuable championship points. That is the sign of a championship winner. A team that never gives up and, even when things aren't going their way, still finishes in the points," Moreno concluded.