PORTLAND, OREGON - Saturday, June 24, 2000 -- Round 8 of the 2000 FedEx Championship Series - Patrick Racing came on strong and made a big improvement today during final qualifying for tomorrow's Freightliner/G. I. Joe's 200 at Portland ...
PORTLAND, OREGON - Saturday, June 24, 2000 -- Round 8 of the 2000 FedEx Championship Series - Patrick Racing came on strong and made a big improvement today during final qualifying for tomorrow's Freightliner/G. I. Joe's 200 at Portland International Raceway in Portland, Oregon. Roberto Moreno, in the #20 Visteon/Patrick Racing Ford-Cosworth, qualified third while Adrian Ferandez, driving the #40 Tecate/Quaker State/Patrick Racing Ford-Cosworth, will start tenth. This is the fifth time in eight attempts this year that the team has qualified both cars in the top-10.
Moreno, who was 23rd after the Friday morning practice session, and eighth on the provisional grid with a time of 59.334 seconds (119.466 mph), improved his position on the grid by five places from Friday to Saturday. During the morning practice it did not appear that he would be able to make such a big jump. Moreno suffered a water leak early in the session and ended up running his back-up car. His time of 59.114 was an improvement over the previous day, but it was only the ninth quickest of the session and placed him 11th overall on the combined practice report. In final qualifying he ran with the fast group based on his previous days provisional qualifying effort, and showed from the outset that the car was dramatically improved. He ran among the top five for the first half of the session then bounced in and out of the top three until the final minutes when he turned in an exceptionally fast lap of 57.977 seconds (122.768 mph).
"I am thrilled with the way the Visteon/Patrick Racing team has performed so far this weekend. They have done a great job for me. We started with a car in the morning that we had to change the engine because of a water leak. The Visteon/Patrick Racing crew did a great job getting the car ready. We just fine-tuned the car early in the season and it worked fantastic. This just goes to show the strength of the Patrick Racing team. The working relationship between Adrian and I, the engineers John Ward and Ed Nathman, and the mechanics is growing and getting better every race. That is what made us go so fast today. The crew did a great job and we were able to get some data from Adrian's qualifying run that really helped our qualifying effort. The Visteon/Patrick Racing Ford-Cosworth is a very good race car and I am looking forward to tomorrow."
The third place starting position is Moreno's best of the season and ties his CART career best starting position on a street or permanent road circuit. It is the seventh time in eight races this year that Moreno has qualified in the top ten and his second top five starting position. It is also by far his best qualifying position at PIR (he qualified 11th twice in three previous attempts). The talented Brazilian can take over the lead in the FedEx Championship Series with a strong performance in tomorrow's race along with some help from series leader Paul Tracy and current runner-up Jimmy Vasser. Moreno is currently third in the FedEx Championship Series standings with 52 points, two points out of second and seven out of first. In three visits to PIR his best finish is seventh, last year.
Fernandez also had a good day moving up three places on the grid from Friday's provisional qualifying. The personable Mexican began the day pretty much the way he ended it yesterday. He started the day13th on the provisional grid with a time of 60.343 seconds (117.468 mph). In the morning practice he was able to run a faster time, 59.413, but ended the session in 13th and dropped one place to 14th on the overall combined practice report. However, in final qualifying Fernandez was focused and very determined. Running in the first or "slow" group he came out fast taking the top spot of the session early and retained it throughout. His final time of 58.540 seconds (121.086) was the only time he had run in the 58's all weekend, and made him the only driver in the slow group to move into the top-10.
"Yesterday, the NASCAR cars ran on the track before our qualifying session and put a lot of rubber down on the track making it very slippery. Because of that the Tecate/Quaker State/Patrick Racing team lost about a second from the morning practice session. Today, the track conditions were much better. I knew I had to really concentrate and get the set-up right for one lap. There are not many fast laps you can do because the tires go away. It's not that the tires are bad, it's just the way the track is right now. You really have to concentrate and have everything right for one lap. You cannot make any mistakes. I felt I did that perfect lap. I was so happy to see the time I ran. Tenth on the grid is a good starting position for this race."
This was the fifth time in eight attempts this year that Fernandez has qualified in the top-10. It is also his third best starting position at PIR. The 35-year-old Fernandez is currently tenth in the championship standings with 38 points just nine points out of fourth place. He has finished in the top-10 in four of the six races with a best showing of fourth, also last year.
The Freightliner/G. I. Joe's 200 will be run on Sunday, June 25 at 2:00 p.m. (PDT) and will be televised tape delayed on ESPN2 at 7:00 p.m. (ET)