JACKSON, MI - - December 5, 2000 - - Patrick Racing's Jimmy Vasser made his first test for the team, a two-day affair December 4-5 at Sebring, Florida, a success as he logged the fastest time of the teams testing running a quick lap of 51.2 seconds.
"We had a great test at Sebring," said Patrick Racing General Manager Jim McGee. "Jimmy did a great job with the Patrick Racing Toyota Reynard as far as sorting through the information and changes we made. His feedback and directness enabled us to get right to the heart of problems and make the appropriate changes. The crew and engineering staff also did a fantastic job and we were particularly pleased with the performance of the new Toyota engine and Reynard chassis," concluded McGee.
Vasser, who signed his contract to drive for Patrick Racing late last week, was equally pleased with the results of the test saying, "The test went great. We ran a lot of miles, tried a lot of different things and learned a lot. The Patrick Racing Toyota Reynard felt really good. It is a consistent car and a good race car. We have a very strong package for next season."
The 35-year-old native of California, who gave Toyota their first two podium finishes (last season at Long Beach and Rio), first road course victory (Houston) and scored the most points of any Toyota driver, also had special praise for the new power plant.
"The addition of the Toyota engine to the Patrick Racing package is great. I am very confident and comfortable with the engine and I have a lot of information inside me to contribute to the team. Toyota has improved the performance of the engine every year and I know that the hard work that the Toyota people have put in will pay off," Vasser said.
Vasser has had a whirlwind couple of days since signing his contract. He was in the shop over the weekend getting fitted for his seat then flew to California on business before heading back to Florida for the test. The Las Vegas, Nevada resident is one of three CART Champions currently competing in the FedEx Championship Series and one of three Americans under contract for the 2001 season. A veteran of nine CART campaigns, Vasser spent the last six seasons with Target Racing winning the PPG Cup in 1996. He finished sixth in the 2000 FedEx Championship Series standings with 14 top-ten finishes, six top-five showings and four podium performances including a victory at Houston.
"It has been a hectic couple of days, but this has been a good change for me. I am very excited to be with Patrick Racing," Vasser said. "This is a great group of guys. There are no egos. Everybody respects each other and we all have the utmost respect for Jim McGee. I feel very fortunate to be with this team. Maybe, because of my situation last year I became a little complacent, but I am very energized coming to Patrick Racing. Racing is about being in the right place at the right time and that is where I am right now. I really want to thank Mr. Patrick for the opportunity. I am going to make sure he gets his bang for the buck," concluded Vasser.
Next up for Patrick Racing is a two-day Shake test in Ashville, N. C., December 14-15, followed by two days on the Phoenix oval December 19-20.