CHAMPCAR/CART: Patrick Racing Portland preview

Patrick Racing's Moreno has Momentum Heading into Freightliner/G. I. Joe'S 200 Vasser Looking to Get Back on Track JACKSON, MI - - JUNE 20, 2001 - - Patrick Racing's Roberto Moreno has momentum with him, while teammate Jimmy Vasser will be...

Patrick Racing's Moreno has Momentum Heading into Freightliner/G. I. Joe'S 200
Vasser Looking to Get Back on Track

JACKSON, MI - - JUNE 20, 2001 - - Patrick Racing's Roberto Moreno has momentum with him, while teammate Jimmy Vasser will be looking to get back on track at this weekend's Freightliner/G. I. Joe's 200 at Portland International Raceway in Portland, Oregon.

Moreno, who pilots the #20 Visteon/Patrick Racing Toyota Reynard, is coming off his best performance of the 2001 FedEx Championship Series season, an exciting third place finish last weekend at the Tenneco Automotive Grand Prix of Detroit. He has now finished in the points in four of his last five races and four of the six races this season (Long Beach - 11th; Nazareth - 12th; Japan - 10th; Detroit - third). Moreno is currently 13th in the championship race with 20 points.

"The Visteon/Patrick Racing team changed a couple of things this year," Moreno noted. "We have a new engine and a new engineer. I have had to adapt and it has taken some time. Last year I was an expert on saving fuel with a different engine, but this year I have had to learn how to save fuel with the Toyota engine. Jimmy (Vasser) has been a big help in this area and at Detroit I proved that I have learned how to do it. Also, I took a big step forward at Detroit with my new engineer David Dembicki. We have worked very well together so far this season, but nothing helps a relationship grow like success," Moreno concluded.

With momentum on his side, Moreno heads to Portland, looking to duplicate his performance here last year. The native of Brazil came to Portland in third place in the 2000 FedEx Championship standings. Then, in a hotly contest battle with Gil de Ferran he narrowly missed capturing his first CART career victory placing second. The runner-up finish was good enough to propel him into first place in the championship standings for the first time in his CART career. Moreno will be racing for the fifth time at Portland. In four previous starts he best qualifying position is third, last year. He has finished in the top-10 twice, placing seventh in 1999 to go with the second place showing last year.

"The Visteon/Patrick Racing team had a great result at Portland last year," Moreno said. "It was almost my first CART win, but we just came up a bit short.

The good news was I took over the points lead for the first time in my CART career, so Portland will always be special for me," Moreno noted.

"I like the track in Portland," Moreno said. "The whole area is fantastic and promoter Mike Nealy does a great job. They always have a good crowd and Mike is very supportive and helpful with the drivers. I am looking for a good result in Portland this weekend. I need to keep the momentum we got from the finish in Detroit going," Moreno said

Considered one of the better road/street course drivers in the series, Moreno is looking to take advantage of this stretch of four consecutive road/street races (Detroit, Portland, Cleveland and Toronto) as he attempts to climb into the thick of the championship race. Moreno has finished in the points in 13 of his last 22 road/street course starts with ten top-10 placements, six top five showings and four podiums including his first career victory (and pole) last year at Cleveland. In eight starts, since 1999, at Detroit, Portland, Cleveland and Toronto, Moreno has finished in the top-10 six times with four top-four showings including the victory at Cleveland.

Vasser, in the #40 Patrick Racing Toyota Reynard, started the 2001 season strong, but has been the victim of misfortune in his last two outings. The 35-year-old native of California finished in the top-six in the first four races of the season (Mexico - sixth; Long Beach - fifth; Nazareth - fourth; Japan - fifth). However, in the next two events he was knocked from the competition at Milwaukee while running in third place when rookie Tora Takagi made a questionable move, and then at Detroit, Vasser "just flat blew it" when he lost control of his car while trying to keep his tires clean during a yellow flag and hit the wall. Vasser is now tied for sixth place in the point standings. He is 34 points out of first place.

"The Patrick Racing team got off to a good start, but we got a little sidetracked the last two races," Vasser said. "We just have to put the last two races behind us and move forward. I know we will do that because of the leadership of Mr. Patrick and Jim McGee. This team is always calm and relaxed no matter what happens. The Patrick Racing team has been so successful over the years because they go about their business in a very professional manner no matter what. That attitude comes from Mr. Patrick and Jim McGee," Vasser concluded.

This will be Vasser's tenth start at Portland International Raceway. In nine previous races he has qualified extremely well starting in the top-10 six times with a high of second in 1995. He has finished in the top-10 twice and in the points four times with a best showing of second also in 1995.

"I like Portland International Raceway and the whole area," Vasser said. "My family is originally from the Pacific Northwest so racing in Portland is sort of a home coming for me. I am looking forward to a good result this weekend and getting back on track and back into the middle of the championship battle," Vasser noted.

The Las Vegas, Nevada resident has had some success on this stretch of road/street circuits during his CART career. In 35 career starts at Detroit, Portland, Cleveland and Toronto he has finished in the points 20 times with 16 top-10 placements, six top-five showings and four podiums. Vasser has a rather impressive overall record on the CART road/street circuits. In 92 CART career road/street starts he has placed in the points 55 times with 48 top-10 finishes including 24 top-five showings, 14 podium appearances and four victories.

Additionally, Vasser's experience and success with the Toyota engine on road/street circuits, gives him something of an advantage. He scored Toyota's first podium finish placing third at Long Beach in 2000 and captured Toyota's first road course victory taking last year's Houston Grand Prix.

PATRICK RACING NOTES:

Vasser And Moreno Are Models Of Consistency:

Vasser has finished 89 of his last 109 races placing in the points 85 times (dating to Milwaukee in 1995). Moreno has finished in the top-10 in 20 of his last 39 starts and in the points 26 times

Patrick Racing Scores High In Reliability:

Combining the stats of Moreno and Vasser, Patrick Racing is tied for second in finishes (nine of 12 starts), second in laps completed (1582 out of a possible 1766), third in miles completed (2210.034 out of a possible 2501.146) and fifth in points (60).

Patrick Racing Second in Craftsman Pit Crew Challenge:

Vasser's #40 Patrick Racing Toyota Reynard crew is currently second in the Craftsman Pit Crew Challenge standings after the first six races of the season.

McGee Holds Record For Most Wins:

Patrick Racing General Manager Jim McGee is tops on the all-time wins list for a Manager/Chief Mechanic with 88. McGee has nine national championships and is the only Manager/Chief Mechanic to win a championship in four decades (60's - 90's). He has at least one victory in each of his last five decades (his 20's, 30's, 40's, 50's, 60's) and a least one victory in each of the last five decades (60's-00).

Patrick Racing Facts:

Patrick Racing, which enters its 29th year of competition in 2001, is one of the most successful teams in the history of Champ Car racing with 44 victories, three Indianapolis 500 wins and two national championships (1976 - Gordon Johncock and 1989 - Emerson Fittipaldi). U. E. "Pat" Patrick is the co-founder of CART and the "father" of the Dayton Indy Lights Series.

For background, statistical information, releases, notes, quotes plus updates on race weekends, go to (www.patrickracing.com).

-PR-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Gil de Ferran , Jimmy Vasser , Roberto Moreno , Emerson Fittipaldi , Gordon Johncock