Vasser Finishes Fourth, Moreno 12th at Lehigh Valley Grand Prix Presented by Toyota NAZARETH, PENNSYLVANIA - SUNDAY, MAY 6, 2001 -- Round ...
Vasser Finishes Fourth, Moreno 12th at Lehigh Valley Grand Prix Presented by Toyota
NAZARETH, PENNSYLVANIA - SUNDAY, MAY 6, 2001 -- Round #4 of the 2001 FedEx Championship Series - Patrick Racing's Jimmy Vasser finished fourth while teammate Roberto Moreno placed 12th today at the Lehigh Valley Grand Prix presented by Toyota at Nazareth Speedway in Nazareth, Pennsylvania.
This was the second consecutive race that Patrick Racing has finished both drivers in the points following a fifth place performance by Vasser and an 11th place showing by Moreno in Long Beach.
Vasser, in the #40 Patrick Racing Toyota Reynard, started the race 11th, but quickly moved into tenth place when Helio Castroneves spun at the start of the race. He remained in tenth until lap 76 and the third yellow flag of the race. Taking the opportunity to pit under yellow the #40 Patrick Racing crew once again did an outstanding job getting Vasser back out in seventh place. He continued to run in seventh until lap 116 when the fourth yellow gave the team an opportunity to gamble a bit. Pitting on lap 116 Vasser rejoined the race in 15th place. However, in order to finish in two stops he was now going to have to go an incredibly long 109 laps. Through a combination of saving fuel, picking his spots, having other competitors pit for fuel or fall out of the race and basically taking advantage of every opportunity, the strategy worked and Vasser was able to work his way into fourth place where he finished.
"The Patrick Racing team should have won the race or at least finished on the podium, but I overall I am happy with a fourth place finish," Vasser said. "We have established a very firm foundation for the season with our performances in the first three races of the season. On one of the restarts I lost a couple of positions because I had to brake hard to avoid crashing with another car, but considering where we started it was a pretty good showing. The Patrick Racing crew did a great job in the pits and we had a good race strategy. The next step is to win some races," Vasser noted.
Vasser picked-up 12 points for his effort and is now tied for third place in the FedEx Championship Series standings with 30 points. He is ten points out of first place. He has finished in the top-six in all three starts this year placing sixth at Mexico, fifth in Long Beach and fourth here in Nazareth. This is his fifth top-10 finish in Nazareth in eight races (he has scored in the points six times). He has one victory, 1998. In 150 CART races, Vasser has amassed 89 top-10 finishes including 26 podium showings, nine victories and seven poles. The 35-year-old native of California also extended a streak that seen him finish 88 of his last 106 starts placing in the points 84 times.
Moreno, piloting the #20 Visteon/Patrick Racing Toyota Reynard, started 16, moved up to 15th at the start of the race and held station until the first round of pit stops on lap 76. The Visteon crew, performing on a par with their counterparts on the #40 car, got Moreno out in equally good shape in the #12 position. He remained in 12th place until lap 116 when three of the cars ahead of him pitted, including his teammate Vasser, but the Visteon/Patrick Racing team decided to remain out to improve their track position and hope for a later yellow to pit on thus avoiding the fuel mileage gamble. Running in ninth place the yellow materialized six laps later. Moreno pitted for the second and final time on lap 125 along with several other cars. When he rejoined the fray he was in 16th place. Attrition and pit stops by fellow competitors allowed him to move back into 12th place where he finished the race.
"What can I say...obviously I am disappointed," Moreno said. "The Visteon/Patrick Racing team didn't qualify well and we couldn't catch the breaks in the race. Our race strategy almost worked out quite well for us, but the yellow's just didn't fall our way. I am happy that we scored a point. We have now scored points in two straight races, but we have to start qualifying and finishing better. It is still early in the season so we have time to catch up to the points leaders, but you don't want to fall too far behind and have to play catch-up all year," Moreno concluded.
Moreno picked-up one point and is now in 16th place in the standings with three points. The talented Brazilian has now scored points in two of the first three races this year, 11th at Long Beach to go with the 12th place finish in Nazareth. The 12th place showing was also his best in four attempts at Nazareth and is the 12th time in his last 15 oval races that he has placed in the points. Moreno has finished in the top-10 in 18 of his last 36 starts and in the points 24 times.
Next up for Patrick Racing is the Firestone Firehawk 500 in Motegi, Japan, May 17-19.