JACKSON, MI - - December 3, 2000 - - U. E. "Pat" Patrick announced today that Patrick Racing has signed Jimmy Vasser to a multi-year contract to drive the #40 Patrick Racing Toyota Reynard during the 2001 FedEx Championship Series season. The team is currently in discussions with several potential sponsors for Vasser's car.
"Jimmy and I have been working very diligently for the past several weeks to put this deal together and I am very pleased to be able to make this announcement," said Pat Patrick. "In my opinion Jimmy, despite all his accomplishments, is one of the most underrated drivers in the series. Patrick Racing is happy to be able to provide Jimmy with the opportunity, as we have with so many other drivers, like Scott Pruett, Adrian Fernandez and most recently Roberto Moreno, to once again display his very considerable talents to their fullest."
Vasser, who is entering his tenth CART season, is one of three CART Champions currently competing in the FedEx Championship Series and one of three Americans under contract for the 2001 season. The 35-year-old native of California spent the last six seasons with Target Racing winning the PPG Cup in 1996. Since making his CART debut in 1992 with Hayhoe Racing, Vasser has gone on to start 147 races with 86 top-10 finishes including 26 podium showings and nine victories. He has captured the pole seven times. Last year he finished sixth in the FedEx Championship Series standings with 14 top-ten finishes, six top-five showings and four podium performances including a victory at Houston.
"I feel like I have been in labor for two weeks and have just had a beautiful baby," said Vasser. "I am very pleased and proud to join the Patrick Racing organization and I want to thank Mr. Patrick for this opportunity. Year after year Patrick Racing has proved they are one of the best team's in the business. They provide their drivers with the opportunity to be competitive at every race and their race craft and attention to detail is second to none."
Vasser joins Roberto Moreno in a two-car effort for Patrick Racing during the 2001 season. Moreno, who is entering his eighth CART season, is coming off a career year following his first season with Patrick Racing. The 41-year-old Brazilian placed a career high third in the championship race, led the CART standings for the first time and captured his first CART victory and pole (both at Cleveland). He will pilot the #20 Visteon/Patrick Racing Toyota Reynard in 2001.
"I think it is great for Patrick Racing to have a driver the caliber of Jimmy Vasser join the team," said Patrick Racing General Manager Jim McGee. "Jimmy has won championships and knows how to win races. He has tremendous experience and technical knowledge. His addition to our team will be invaluable in terms of his input in developing the new Toyota engine and Reynard chassis. He has instilled a lot of excitement in our organization and we are looking forward to having him team with Roberto for the up coming season."
Vasser will test for the first time with Patrick Racing December 4-5 at Sebring, Florida. Moreno, who drove at the team's first test, also at Sebring on November 16-17, will be on hand to observe.
Patrick Racing placed two drivers in the top three in the championship standings for the first time in over two decades during the 2000 season. The performance was the second best by two Patrick drivers in team history. Gordon Johncock and Wally Dallenbach, finished first and third respectively, in 1976 (Emerson Fittipaldi's title in 1989 was a one-car effort).
Patrick Racing was the only team with two drivers in the top six let alone the top three in the 2000 FedEx Championship Series standings. Combining the statistics of both drivers, Patrick Racing was first in points (305), races finished (31 of 40), top-10 (27) and top five (16) finishes, and tied for first in podiums (11). They are first in laps (5177) and miles (8616.473) completed.