DETROIT -- Patrick Racingâ€™s Roberto Moreno will seek to take over first place in the CART FedEx Championship Series standings, while teammate Adrian Fernandez will be looking to move into the top five this weekend at the Tenneco Automotive...
DETROIT -- Patrick Racing’s Roberto Moreno will seek to take over first place in the CART FedEx Championship Series standings, while teammate Adrian Fernandez will be looking to move into the top five this weekend at the Tenneco Automotive Grand Prix of Detroit, June 16-18, on the temporary street circuit at Belle Island in Detroit.
Moreno, pilot of the #20 Visteon/Patrick Racing Ford-Cosworth, has solidified his position as a championship contender having finished in the top-10 in five of six races this year. He is currently second in the championship standings with 52 points and is just seven points out of first place. Meanwhile, Fernandez, who was a preseason favorite to take the 2000 FedEx Championship title, has driven the #40 Tecate/Quaker State/Patrick Racing Ford-Cosworth back into contention with four consecutive top-10 finishes after failing to finish the first two races of the season due to mechanical problems. Fernandez, who returns to Detroit where, last year, he suffered a fractured radius in his right arm, is in eighth place in the standings. He is only six points out of fourth place and 10 out of third.
Moreno will be competing on the difficult Detroit street circuit for the fourth time. In his three previous races he has qualified in the top five twice with a high of third in 1997. His best finish is fifth also in 1997.
“Detroit is a street circuit where I very much like to compete. The new configuration is a little less challenging, but the track is safer and there are more places to pass,” Moreno said. “A good result in Detroit is important to the Visteon/Patrick Racing team. It will help us in the race for the championship, plus it would be a big thrill to get our sponsor, Visteon Automotive Systems, their first win at home in front of their employees and customers.”
Now in his seventh CART season and first with Patrick Racing, Moreno is making the most of just his third full season of CART competition. The talented and personable Brazilian has been a model of consistency this year. He has qualified in the top-10 in five of six races and finished five of six races. Moreno is second in laps completed (980 out of 991) and miles completed (1333.981 out of 1344.387). Among his five top ten-10 finishes are three top five placements with two podium showings including a CART career best tying second in the season opener in Miami. Significantly, Moreno has accomplished all of this on ovals which is somewhat surprising given his Karting and Formula 1, 3000, 2 and Ford background. The resident of Weston, Florida, has finished in the points in 13 of his last 21 races.
Fernandez came to Detroit last year in fifth place in the championship standings and poised to make a run at the top three. However, an accident in the Friday morning practice session resulted in a fracture in his right forearm requiring surgery to insert 11 pins. Fernandez missed the next four races effectively ending any chance of a career best finish in the point’s race. He still went on to place sixth in the CART standings. Excluding last year, the outgoing Mexican has enjoyed some success at Detroit. In six races he has qualified in the top-10 three times including third twice (1996 and 1998). He has finished in the top seven four times with a best showing of second in 1998.
“I am looking forward to going back to Detroit,” Fernandez said. “The Tecate/Quaker State/Patrick Racing team has been very strong at this race in the past. Unfortunately, we had the accident last year so it is important that we go back this year and get back to where we were in year’s past. This is a key race for the championship. We need a good result here to keep our momentum going and set the tone for the next few races on the road and street circuits.”
“Qualifying is the most important thing in Detroit. The track is challenging and with the new configuration there are some more places to pass, but it is still very difficult to get by other cars. That makes qualifying the key to the race.”
Despite the difficult start to the season, Fernandez never lost faith. With determination, incredible driving talent and a little luck, he has propelled himself back into the championship battle. Among his four straight top-10 finishes are two top five showings including his CART career sixth win, a victory in Rio. The Paradise Valley, Arizona resident’s level of consistency since joining Patrick Racing for the 1998 season has been among the best in the FedEx Series. Starting with his podium finish at Fontana in 1997, he has finished sixth or better in 25 of 41 events. He has placed in the top-10 in 29 of those 41 races.
Both Patrick Racing drivers will test at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Michigan on Tuesday, June 14 prior to heading for Detroit.