BROOKLYN, MICHIGAN - SUNDAY, JULY 23, 2000 -- Round 11 of the 2000 FedEx Championship Series - Patrick Racing's Adrian Fernandez finished sixth, while teammate Roberto Moreno fell victim to a mechanical problem and placed 23rd, in today's ...
BROOKLYN, MICHIGAN - SUNDAY, JULY 23, 2000 -- Round 11 of the 2000 FedEx Championship Series - Patrick Racing's Adrian Fernandez finished sixth, while teammate Roberto Moreno fell victim to a mechanical problem and placed 23rd, in today's Michigan 500 at Michigan Speedway in Brooklyn, Michigan.
Fernandez, driving the #40 Tecate/Quaker State/Patrick Racing Ford-Cosworth, had a particularly unusual race. Starting 12th, he was running in seventh place when, upon exiting the pits after his first pit stop, he spun the car damaging the front nose. The 35-year-old Mexican went down two laps to the field before his car was restarted. He then proceeded to fight and claw his way back into contention. Fernandez took the lead with 25 laps remaining, and plenty of fuel, while it appeared that the other competitors would have to pit once more for a splash of fuel to finish the race. Unfortunately, a late yellow flag permitted the other drivers to make their stop without losing too much position. At the end Fernandez just didn't have enough car to hold off the other drivers.
"It was a very strange race. The Tecate/Quaker State/Patrick Racing Ford-Cosworth was very good from the beginning. I was taking it easy. Then I came into the pits and when I came out, I put the throttle down to hard and I spun on the cold tires. After they restarted me, I was down two laps and I was pretty down on myself. But, John Ward kept telling we could score some points and not to worry. So I just kept my cool. We managed to pass everybody and get one of our laps back. Then we got the lucky yellow and were back on the lead lap and in contention. At that point we went back to our original race strategy. If it hadn't been for the final yellow we could have won the race. I was pulling away from everybody because they were all saving fuel and I knew we had them. I knew it would be hard to hold off the other cars when they didn't have to worry about fuel mileage. The Tecate/Quaker State/Patrick Racing Ford-Cosworth was fast, but it wasn't fast enough for the guys who qualified up front. I didn't have enough straightaway speed. The fact that the nose was damaged really didn't make a difference. It actually was a good way to keep the driver cooled off in the hot conditions. This was a very good result for the Tecate/Quaker State/Patrick Racing team. The crew did a great job preparing the car and a great job in the pits during the race. We scored points and moved up in the championship battle."
Fernandez earned eight points for his efforts and is now sixth in the FedEx Championship Series standings with 69 points. He is just six points out of fourth and 11 out of third. The Paradise Valley, Arizona resident has now scored points in eight of his last nine races (including Nazareth). Fernandez has finished eight of 11 races this year, placing in the top-10 seven times, including a win in Rio. He has finished in the points eight times. In seven races at Michigan he has finished in the top six three times, third in 1995 and sixth the last two years. Fernandez has now qualified in the top-10 in seven of 11 races this year.
Moreno, in the #20 Visteon/Patrick Racing Ford-Cosworth, had a much more difficult day. Starting 16 he moved up to 14th at the start of the race. However, on lap eight, he began battled handling problems, which robbed him of speed and the ability to defend his position. He quickly dropped to 20th place as both he, making adjustments in the car, and the team, making changes during pit stops, worked feverishly to find a solution to the problem. Despite their efforts nothing seemed to work. Now three laps off the pace, the 41-year-old Brazilian continued to press on until developing a mechanical problem. He retired from the competition on lap 97. "Basically, it was a sad day for the Visteon/Patrick Racing team. Unfortunately, we had some handling problems throughout the race and then at the end we developed a mechanical problem. We are not sure what the mechanical problem is, but the Visteon/Patrick Racing crew will go back and get it figured out. The crew did a good job again today, but in racing like this there are ups and downs. Hopefully, with the two downs we have had the last two races our bad luck is out of the way. I am confident that the Visteon/Patrick Racing team will be back stronger than ever and fighting for the championship."
The 41-year-old Brazilian, who led the championship race for the first time in his seven-year CART career for almost a month, is now second in the standings. He trials today's runner-up Michael Andretti, 104-90. Moreno has now finished seven of 11 races this year, each time in the top-10 including four podium showings. He captured his first career CART victory at Cleveland, took seconds at Miami and Portland and a third in Japan. The Weston, Florida resident has now qualified in the top-10 in eight of 11 races, with one pole (a CART career first at Cleveland).
Next up for Patrick Racing is the Target Grand Prix at Chicago Motor Speedway in Chicago, Illinois, July 28-30.