MONTEREY, CALIFORNIA - FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 8, 2000 - Round 16 of the 2000 FedEx Championship Series - Roberto Moreno is 15th and Adrian Fernandez 17th on the grid following today's provisional qualifying for the Honda Grand Prix of Monterey at...
MONTEREY, CALIFORNIA - FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 8, 2000 - Round 16 of the 2000 FedEx Championship Series - Roberto Moreno is 15th and Adrian Fernandez 17th on the grid following today's provisional qualifying for the Honda Grand Prix of Monterey at Laguna Seca Raceway in Monterey, California.
Moreno, in the #20 Visteon/Patrick Racing Ford-Cosworth, worked diligently throughout the day in search of the proper set-up for the challenging 2.238-mile Laguna Seca Raceway permanent road circuit. He was 22nd on the practice report following the morning practice session with a time of 71.090 seconds (113.332 mph). In provisional qualifying Moreno, running in the second or "fast" group based on his 10th place qualifying position at Vancouver, continued to work on the set-up with some positive results. He ran a quick time of 69.669 seconds (115.644 mph). Although his time puts him in the first or "slow" group for tomorrow's final qualifying, Moreno expressed pleasure that the car was improved over the morning practice session.
"It was not a very quick qualifying session for the Visteon/Patrick Racing team. We have been chasing the set-up and we haven't quite gotten it yet. We have some good clues on how to do it, but we just aren't there yet. I think we know what direction to go. The car was much better in afternoon qualifying then in this morning's practice. We will just have to sit down and get it figured out tonight."
Moreno is fifth in the FedEx Championship Series standings with 115 points. He is two points out of third place and 11 out of first. The 41-year-old Brazilian led the point's race for almost a month earlier this year while notching his first career CART pole and win (both at Cleveland). This is the first time since the third race of the 2000 season that Moreno has not been in the top three in the points. The Weston, Florida resident has finished in the top-10 in three of his last four races and placed in the points all four times. Moreno has qualified in the top-10 in nine of 15 races and five of eight road/street circuits with one pole. This is the sixth time Moreno has raced at Laguna Seca. In his five previous starts he has placed in the points three times with two-top-10 finishes and a best showing of second achieved last year. His best starting position is sixth in 1985.
Fernandez, driving the #40 Tecate/Quaker State/Patrick Racing Ford-Cosworth, also spent much of the day working to find the proper set-up. During the morning practice session the team made several changes in search of the proper balance, more grip and traction into the car. By the end of the session there were definite signs of improvement. Fernandez' quick time was 70.678 seconds (113.993.755) placing him 15th on the practice report. In qualifying Fernandez ran with the first or "slow" group based on his 15th place starting position at Vancouver. The Tecate/Quaker State/Patrick continued to make progress as the team made minor changes during their first pit stop and major ones during the second. The result was a much better handling car and a quick time of 69.925 seconds (115.221 mph). He will also be in the first group for final qualifying.
"The Tecate/Quaker State/Patrick Racing team is struggling to get some grip. So are, sort of, picking up where we left off in testing a couple of weeks ago. We haven't found much more grip yet, but the car is much better this afternoon than this morning. We still have to get more speed, but I think we are going in the right direction. Hopefully, by tomorrow we have found what we are looking for."
Fernandez is third in the championship race with 117 points. He is just nine points out of first place. The 35-year-old Mexican has jumped eight spots in the standings in the last 2+ months spanning eight races. Fernandez has scored points in each of the last eight starts including a streak of seven consecutive top-10 placements. He has finished on the podium in his last two races, placed in the top five in four of his last six races and in the top six in all six. The Paradise Valley, Arizona has qualified in the top-10 at seven of 15 races and five of eight road/street circuits. He is competing at Laguna Seca Raceway for the eighth time. In his previous seven starts he has finished in the top-10 four times and in the points six times. Fernandez' best qualifying position at Laguna Seca is sixth (1998) and his best finish is fifth, last year.
Final qualifying for the Honda Grand Prix of Monterey will begin at 1:45 pm (PT) tomorrow. The race will be run on Sunday, September 10 at 12:00 p.m. (PT) and will be televised live on ESPN at 12:00 p.m. (PT) (3:00 P.M. ET).