JACKSON, MI - - December 21, 2000 - - Patrick Racing conducted its third test of the preseason, and its final test before the new year, running for two days at Phoenix International Raceway in Phoenix, Arizona December 19-20.
This was the team's first oval test and the first time that both Roberto Moreno and Jimmy Vasser participated at the same test. The two previous tests were run on the Sebring road course with Moreno taking laps on November 16-17 and Vasser putting the new Toyota Reynard through its paces on December 4-5.
"This was a very productive test," said Patrick Racing General Manager Jim McGee. "We ran the 2001 low downforce oval configuration for the first time and both drivers felt the car was good. We ran 400 miles with no problems. I was very impressed with the input of both drivers and Jimmy (Vasser) seemed right at home with us. It was like he has been with us for ten years," noted McGee.
Moreno, who will pilot the #20 Visteon/Patrick Racing Toyota Reynard in 2001, ran 200 miles during the first day of testing turning a quick lap of 21.2.
"It was a very positive and productive test," Moreno said. Basically, we confirmed some data from previous tests and then worked on a couple of new things. We ran the low downforce package that we will use in 2001 on short ovals and ran competitive times. I am extremely pleased with the results. The Visteon/Patrick Racing Toyota Reynard is a very good car."
Moreno, who is entering his second year with Patrick Racing, had the best season of his seven-year CART career in 2000. Piloting the #20 Visteon/Patrick Racing entry the native of Brazil, who now resides in Weston, Florida finished a career high third in the FedEx Championship Series standings, led the CART standings for the first time and captured his first CART victory and pole.
Vasser, who joined Patrick Racing earlier this month, took over the next day running an additional 200 miles and matching Moreno's fast lap of 21.2.
"It was a good test," said Vasser. "I was pleased with the performance of the
Toyota Reynard. We ran the 2001 downforce package and the car was very consistent especially on older tires. That is important especially on a short oval because the tires go away so quickly. Also the reliability of the Toyota engine was fantastic. We ran 400 miles as a team without a problem," Vasser said.
Vasser, a native of California, is one of four CART Champions currently competing in the FedEx Championship Series and one of three Americans. A veteran of nine CART campaigns, Vasser won the PPG Cup in 1996. The Las Vegas, Nevada resident finished sixth in the 2000 FedEx Championship Series standings.
Commenting on his new team Vasser said, "The communication between the engineering staff, mechanics and driver is great. We already have a relationship that most drivers dream of. There is a synergy and calmness on this team that makes it very comfortable to work here. It all comes from the leadership of Jim McGee and Mr. Patrick."
Next up for Patrick Racing is a test at Homestead, Florida January 7-8 followed by the CART "Sneak Preview" in Fontana, California January 16-18.