JACKSON, MI - - June 29, 2000 - - Patrick Racing's Roberto Moreno will be trying to extend his lead in the FedEx Championship Series standings and capture his first career CART victory this weekend on the temporary street circuit at Burke...
JACKSON, MI - - June 29, 2000 - - Patrick Racing's Roberto Moreno will be trying to extend his lead in the FedEx Championship Series standings and capture his first career CART victory this weekend on the temporary street circuit at Burke Lakefront Airport in Cleveland, Ohio. Meanwhile, teammate Adrian Fernandez will be seeking a reversal of fortune and attempt to move back into the top-10 in the point's race.
Moreno, who pilots the #20 Visteon/Patrick Racing Ford-Cosworth, is coming off a career best tying second place finish in Portland that saw him take over the top spot in the championship standings for the first time in his seven year CART career. The 41-year-old Brazilian leads Gil de Ferran by one point in the championship race, 68-67. Competing in just his third full season, and first with Patrick Racing, Moreno will be starting his 70th CART race. His success this year can be attributed to his remarkable consistency. The talented and personable Moreno has finished six of eight races this year, each time in the top-10 including three podium showings, seconds at Miami and Portland and a third in Japan. The Weston, Florida resident has qualified in the top-10 in seven of eight races. He is first in laps completed, first in miles completed and ninth in laps led.
"Being in first place in the FedEx Championship Series is a thrill. The Visteon/Patrick Racing team has put in a lot of hard work. I never expected to be on the podium, let alone in first place this early. I thought it would take us six or seven races just to come together and be competitive. I think I was under a bit of a handicap at the beginning of the season because so many of the other drivers have been with their teams for so long. It wasn't until the fifth race that I realized I would be racing for the same team for the rest of the season. I feel very happy and comfortable with the Visteon/Patrick Racing team. We have really developed a great relationship," Moreno said.
Moreno will be racing on the fan friendly 2.106-mile Cleveland circuit for the fourth time. His top qualifying position is fifth and his best finish is eighth (1999).
"You have to be a little aggressive at Cleveland. The track is so wide that there are a lot of places to pass. Going into the first corner you brake as late as possible, but you have to be very careful not to cook your tires. Then you go into a medium chicane where traction on the exit is the key. The next corner is a double apex corner. It is really two corners together so you make one round corner. Then there is a straight that goes into the quick chicane. You need to be fast on the straight, then, when you back off to enter the chicane you have to make sure that the back end of the car stays down. Then it is back onto the front straight. The big challenge is to get the set-up correct. You need low down force for the straightaways, low drag in the aerodynamic package, which means you have to have mechanical grip for the corners," Moreno concluded.
"The Visteon/Patrick Racing team goes into this race with no expectations. I will work hard to win, but basically we just want to do the best we can. It is not a fuel consumption race. You have to be fast, not make any mistakes, have good pit stops and be in a position to win at the end," said Moreno.
Fernandez, driving the #40 Tecate/Quaker State/Patrick Racing Ford-Cosworth, has been plagued by what can only be described as bad luck. He suffered mechanical problems in the first two races, but then came on to win in Rio and finish in the top-10 in three other events. Poised to move into the top five in the standings the Paradise Valley, Arizona resident was again struck by the fickle fates of racing. In one of the more bizarre incidents his visor tear-off was sucked into the turbo intake at Detroit and then at Portland he was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time when he was caught up in the chaos caused when Dario Franchitti spun in Turn #1. Fernandez is currently 11th in the championship race with 39 points. The 35-year-old Mexican is just eight points out of sixth place and with 12 races remaining he is still very much in the championship hunt.
"Basically, I just hope to have a normal race this weekend in Cleveland. The Tecate/Quaker State/Patrick Racing team has been very competitive at every track; we just have been hit with some bad luck. Every season you expect to have some good luck and some bad. Hopefully, we have gotten all of our bad luck out of the way," Fernandez said.
This will be the seventh time Fernandez has competed at Cleveland. In his six previous races his best qualifying effort is sixth in 1996. He has finished in the top-10 three times with a best showing of fifth in 1998.
"I am very happy we are back in Cleveland. I like the track. There are lots of places to pass and it is a great track for the fans. It is a very challenging circuit. There are no curbs, it's bumpy and there are a lot of surface changes. It is also a track where there is more than one racing line. The key to Cleveland is getting the set-up right," said Fernandez.
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