ELKHART LAKE, WISCONSIN - SATURDAY, AUGUST 18, 2001 -- Round ...
ELKHART LAKE, WISCONSIN - SATURDAY, AUGUST 18, 2001 -- Round #14 of the 2001 FedEx Championship Series - After being one of the most dominant teams in practice Visteon/Patrick Racing was hampered by rain in qualifying for tomorrow's Motorola 220 at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.
Jimmy Vasser, piloting the #40 Visteon/Patrick Racing Toyota Reynard, who was second on the combined practice report after yesterday's twin practice sessions and third in this morning practice run, qualified 11th. Teammate Roberto Moreno, who drove the #20 Visteon/Patrick Racing Toyota Reynard into fifth place on yesterday's combined practice report and was second this morning, will start 14th.
Vasser, who's posted a fast time yesterday of 101.284 seconds (143.881 mph), continued to gain speed this morning notching a quick lap of 101.128 seconds (144.103 mph). He qualified in the second group (qualifying is divided into two groups with the top eleven in the points plus the two fastest qualifiers from the previous road course who are not in the top-11) because he was one of the top qualifiers in Mid-Ohio. Vasser benefited from the knowledge gained by Moreno, who ran in the first group, but was hindered by even wetter conditions and a late red flag. However, on his final lap he, along with several other members of his group ran their fastest laps. Vasser's quick lap came in at 127.597 seconds (114.210 mph) placing him on the inside of Row #11.
"It was just a crazy day," Vasser said. "The #40 Visteon/Patrick Racing Toyota Reynard is very good in dry conditions, but we had to make a lot of changes to get some grip for the wet. We did the best we could under the circumstances and overall we came out okay. It is the same for everybody, so we just have to take what we got. I am sort of like a duck with one leg driving in the rain, but hopefully it will be dry for the race tomorrow. We have a great racecar in dry conditions," Vasser concluded.
The native of California has now qualified in the top-10 seven times in 14 attempts this year. This is his third highest starting position at Road America in eight attempts. In seven previous appearances he has qualified in the top-10 twice with a best starting position of sixth in 1999. He has finished in the top-10 five times, including five of the last six years, with two top-five performances and one podium finish, a third in 1995.
With eight races remaining in the 2001 FedEx Championship Series season, Vasser, who is currently 13th in the championship race with 50 points, is trying to climb back into the championship hunt. The Las Vegas, Nevada resident, who spent the first 11 races of the season in the top-10, reaching as high as third, started the season impressively finishing in the top-six in the first four races. Since then he has been plagued by bad luck. Despite being extremely competitive he has finished in the points just once in his last eight events. Vasser has placed in the top- five four times and in the top-six in five of 12 races this year. He has finished in the top-six in three of seven road/street races. Vasser has started 159 CART races. He has 91 top-10 finishes including 26 podium showings. Vasser has finished 92 of his last 115 races placing in the points 86 times (dating to Milwaukee `95). In 96 CART career road/street races, he has finished in the points 56 times with 49 top-10 finishes, 25 top-five showings, 14 podium appearances and four wins.
Moreno, who began the day fifth on the speed charts, came out strong in morning practice running a fast time of 101.103 seconds (144.138 mph). The time put him second on the morning practice report and bode well for his chances in qualifying. Unfortunately, the talented native of Brazil got caught on a track with no grip (because the tire rubber from the previous practice sessions was washed away by the rain) and with little time to prepare. His fastest lap in qualifying was 128.811 seconds (113.133 mph), which was fourth in his group. The time remained fourth best until the final lap of the second qualifying session when six other drivers were able to slip by.
"The rain caught the Visteon/Patrick Racing team a little bit by short," Moreno said. "We were not able to do as many changes as we wanted before qualifying because of the short time between when it rained and my qualifying session (first group). The second group obviously has a bit of an advantage because they were able to learn some things from the first group and they had more time to make changes. All in all the Visteon/Patrick Racing team did a good job in getting the most out of what we had in qualifying. We certainly have a great car in dry conditions, which will hopefully be the situation for tomorrow's race," Moreno noted.
The Weston, Florida resident has now qualified in the top-10 five times in 14 attempts this year. He has qualified in the top-10 twice at Road America in six with a best starting position of third in 1985 and 1986. Moreno's best finish is fourth, last year.
Moreno, who is 12th in the championship standings with 52 points, is trying to fight his way back into the top-10 this weekend at Road America. He has steadily been working his way toward that goal having finished in the points in six of his last seven races. Moreno, who has completed 11 of the 12 races this season, the most of any driver, and is second in laps and miles completed, has placed in the points in nine of the 12 races. He has five top-10 finishes with two podium appearances. Moreno has finished in the points in six of seven road/street events with four top-10 showings including both his podiums. He has finished in the top-10 in 23 of his last 45 starts and in the points 31 times. Moreno has finished in the points in 17 of his last 26 road/street course races with 13 top-10 placements, seven top-five showings and five podiums including one victory.
The Visteon/Patrick Racing team has had tremendous success on road/street courses this year. After seven road/street course races in 2001, a total of 14 starts, the team has nine points paying finishes with seven top-10 showings and two podiums. Additionally, they traditionally have had good results at Road America. In 26 previous starts at Road America Patrick Racing has qualified in the top-10 a total of 16 times with nine top-five starts. Their highest qualifying position is fourth (1982, 1986, 1988, 1998). They have 15 top-10 finishes with nine top-five placements and two wins (Emerson Fittipaldi - 1986 and 1988).
The Motorola 220 will be run on Sunday, August 19 at 12:00 PM (ET) and will be televised live on ESPN.