JACKSON, MI - - SEPTEMBER 19, 2001 - - The Visteon/Patrick Racing trio of Townsend Bell, Roberto Moreno and Jimmy Vasser journeyed from Germany to England for the inaugural Rockingham 500, September 20-22, at Rockingham Motor Speedway in Corby, ...
JACKSON, MI - - SEPTEMBER 19, 2001 - - The Visteon/Patrick Racing trio of Townsend Bell, Roberto Moreno and Jimmy Vasser journeyed from Germany to England for the inaugural Rockingham 500, September 20-22, at Rockingham Motor Speedway in Corby, England.
Moreno, behind the wheel of the #20 Visteon/Patrick Racing Toyota Reynard with TotalFinaElf UK Limited associated sponsorship, is currently ninth in the 2001 FedEx Championship Series standings with 74 points. He is just 12 points out of fifth place and a solid performance here on the 1.5-mile Rockingham Motor Speedway oval would potentially put him back into the championship hunt. The native of Brazil is coming off a difficult race in Germany where he placed 23rd after experiencing two different electrical problems, which uncharacteristically forced him from the contest early. Much of Moreno's success this season can be attributed to his remarkable consistency. He has finished 13 of 15 races, tied for the most of any driver, and is second in miles and laps completed. Moreno has placed in the points 11 of 15 times including eight of the last 10 events. He has finished in the top-10 six times with three podiums and one win. His record on ovals this year has also been strong with points paying placements in three of the six oval races. Moreno, who is in his eighth CART season, has scored points in 14 of his last 20 oval contests with 10 top-10 finishes, six top-five showings and four podiums.
The Weston, Florida resident has added incentive for this weekend's race. He is returning to the country where he began his car racing career back in 1979. Moreno drove in the British Formula Ford and Formula Ford 2000 Series his first season in the UK following an outstanding karting career in Brazil. He was the British Formula Ford Champion in 1980 before moving on to British Formula 3 in 1981. Moreno spent the next few years competing in Formula Atlantics and Formula 2 before driving his first stint in CART from 1985-1986. He returned to Europe in 1987 competing in Formula 3000, taking the championship in 1988. Moreno moved into Formula One for all, or parts, of five of the next seven years before heading back to the Untied States and CART racing beginning in 1996. The 2000 season, Moreno's first with Visteon/Patrick Racing, saw him finish a CART career high third in the standings in no small part due to his performance on ovals. He had the best record on ovals of any active driver in 2000 with seven top-10 finishes, five top-five showings and four podiums in nine races. Moreno also notched the two best oval performances, and best 500-mile oval finish, of his CART career placing second at Homestead and Fontana.
Vasser, piloting the #40 Visteon/Patrick Racing Toyota Reynard also with TotalFinaElf UK Limited associated sponsorship, previously competed in the UK as the winner of the Team USA Scholarship for the 1990 Formula Ford Festival at Brands Hatch. The native of California is currently 16th in the title race with 50 points. He is 22 points out of 10th place. Vasser is coming off a 15th place finish in Germany. If not for the yellow flag caused by the horrific crashing involving Alex Zanardi, which allowed several competitors to finish without pitting a final time for fuel, Vasser could easily have placed in the top-10. The Las Vegas, Nevada resident has placed in the top-five four times and in the top-six in five of 15 races this year. He has finished in the points twice in six oval races this year placing fifth at Japan and a season high fourth at Nazareth. A veteran of nine plus CART seasons, Vasser has finished in the top-10 in the championship standings for six consecutive years including taking the title in 1996. He has started 162 CART races with 91 top-10 finishes including 26 podium showings. Vasser has finished 92 of his last 117 races placing in the points 86 times (from Milwaukee '95). He has an outstanding record on ovals. In 64 CART oval starts he has finished in the points 45 times with 42 top-10 finishes, 23 top-five showings, 12 podiums and five wins.
Bell, who made his champ car and European debut last week in Germany, will be racing in England for the first time. The 26-year-old native of California piloted the #19 Visteon/Patrick Racing Toyota Reynard to an impressive 13th place finish at the inaugural German 500 (renamed the American Memorial 500). If not for the yellow flag caused by Zanardi's crash, Bell would have scored his first top-10 finish and possibly placed in the top-five. The resident of San Luis Obispo, Califronia has driven the #30 DIRECWAY Dorricott Racing Lola to a 22-point lead in the Dayton Indy Lights Championship Series, 131-109, with three races remaining. He has four wins and five poles in nine Lights races this year. Bell has six career Indy Lights wins and was the "Rookie of the Year" in 2000.