JACKSON, MI - - MAY 11, 2001 - - Patrick Racing will be looking to extend its dominance in Japan as it seeks its third victory in four years at the Firestone Firehawk 500, May 16-19, at Twin Ring Motegi in Motegi, Japan. In the three previous ...
JACKSON, MI - - MAY 11, 2001 - - Patrick Racing will be looking to extend its dominance in Japan as it seeks its third victory in four years at the Firestone Firehawk 500, May 16-19, at Twin Ring Motegi in Motegi, Japan.
In the three previous races held on the 1.5-mile Motegi oval Patrick Racing cars have finished in the top-10 four times including two victories (Adrian Fernandez, 1998 and 1999). Additionally, Roberto Moreno piloted the #20 Visteon/Patrick Racing entry to a podium showing last year while PJ Jones drove the Visteon car to a ninth place finish in 1999. In six starts, two per year, Patrick Racing has finished in the points five times (Scott Pruett finished 12th in 1998).
Patrick Racing newcomer, Jimmy Vasser, driver of the #40 Patrick Racing Toyota Reynard, has also had some success at Twin Ring Motegi. He has started in the top-three two out of three years including on the pole in 1998 (he started third last year and 12th in 1999). He has finished in the points twice placing seventh in 1998 and 12th in 1999.
"I have run near the front at Motegi every year," Vasser said. "It is an interesting oval. You have to make a decision on whether to go for pure speed or mileage. If you are going for speed you shift going into Turn #3, if you are looking for mileage you don't shift. It is going to be a very competitive race and I am looking forward to giving Toyota its first victory in Japan," Vasser concluded.
Vasser has started strong in his inaugural season with Patrick Racing. The 35-year-old native of California has finished in the top-six in all three races this year placing sixth at Mexico, fifth in Long Beach and fourth in Nazareth. He is tied for third in the FedEx Championship Series standings with 30 points. Vasser is one of six drivers to have completed every lap and mile run so far this year.
"Patrick Racing has shown improvement each race this year," Vasser said. We have consistently placed high in the points, but as a team we won't be satisfied until we are winning races and finishing on the podium. The crew has done an outstanding job preparing the cars and in the races. We need to work on our qualifying, but overall it has been a good start to the season," Vasser noted.
In 150 CART career starts Vasser has amassed 89 top-10 finishes including 26 podium showings, nine victories and seven poles. He has scored points in 43 of his 58 (32 of last 39) oval races. Vasser has 40 top-10 finishes with 21 top-five showings including 12 podiums and five wins on ovals. He is working on a streak that seen him finish 88 of his last 106 races placing in the points 84 times.
Moreno returns to Japan looking to add another chapter to his racing resume in the land of the rising sun. This will be his third CART race at Motegi, he started 22nd and finished 26th in the inaugural race to go with his strong showing last year when he started fourth and finished third. In addition, his career is dotted with other highlights from his experiences in Japan.
"Japan is a place that has always brought me luck," Moreno said. "I had my first Formula One start (1987) and podium (1990) in Japan. Last year the Visteon/Patrick Racing team had a great weekend. We came off the truck and were quick right away and then in the race we were in the hunt for the win until the end. I know we can challenge for the victory again this year and it would be nice to win for Toyota in Japan," Moreno noted.
Moreno has scored points in two of the first three races this year, 11th at Long Beach and 12th in Nazareth. He is 16th in the championship standings with three points. The talented Brazilian is looking to add to an impressive oval record that has seen him score points in 12 of his last 15 oval races. He had the strongest oval season of his career last year scoring the most points of any active driver. In nine ovals races in 2000 he had seven finishes in the top-10 with five top-five performances including four podium showings. Moreno also scored the two best oval performances, and best 500-mile finish, of career last year placing second at Homestead and Fontana. Moreno has finished in the top-10 in 18 of his last 36 starts and in the points 24 times.
The #40 Patrick Racing crew is first in the Craftsman Pit Challenge following their first place performance in Nazareth. They have finished ninth (Mexico - four points), third (Long Beach - 14) and first (Nazareth - 20) so far this season.