MILWUAKEE, WISCONSIN - FRIDAY, JUNE 1, 2001 -- Round ...
MILWUAKEE, WISCONSIN - FRIDAY, JUNE 1, 2001 -- Round #6 of the 2001 FedEx Championship Series - Patrick Racing's Jimmy Vasser is sixth while teammate Roberto Moreno is 25th on the speed charts after the first day of practice for the Miller Lite 225 at the Milwaukee Mile in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Rain washed out today's morning practice session leaving competitors with just one two-hour practice in the afternoon. Vasser, in the newly repainted, orange and black, #40 Patrick Racing Toyota Reynard, spent most of the session running in the top-10 even though the Patrick Racing team was working on long runs tuning the car for Sunday's race. He made one speed run, a little over halfway through the session, turning a fast time of 22.726 seconds (163.478 mph), which pushed him into the number two spot. Vasser spent the rest of practice running on full tanks, again working on race setups, and in the closing moments of the session four cars jumped ahead of him dropping him to sixth.
"The Patrick Racing Toyota Reynard is good...real good," Vasser said. "We did a lot of long runs today. We didn't do a lot of runs for speed. The car is pretty consistent, but we can make it better. I think the Patrick Racing team got a lot done in the two hours and overall I am very happy with what we accomplished."
Vasser is seeking to extend a streak at Milwaukee that has seen him finish in the points in seven of his eight races on the one-mile Milwaukee oval. He has qualified in the top-10 only twice, but he has finished in the top-10 six times and the top-four three times including a victory in 1998. His other points paying finish came in 1994 when he placed 11th. He placed 13th last year.
"I won here in 1998 and I should have won here in 1999. I have run up front here before, so I have high expectations for this weekend," Vasser noted.
The Las Vegas resident, who finished fourth last week at the Indianapolis 500, has started the 2001 FedEx Championship Series season strong. He has placed in the top-six in all four races this year, his first with Patrick Racing, finishing sixth at Mexico, fifth in Long Beach, fourth in Nazareth and fifth in Japan. Vasser is tied for third in the championship standings with 40 points, just nine points out of first. He has scored points in 44 of his last 59 (33 of last 40) oval races with 41 top-10 finishes, 22 top-five showings, 12 podiums and five wins. Vasser has finished 89 of his last 107 races placing in the points 85 times.
In 151 career CART starts, Vasser has 90 top-10 finishes including 26 podium showings, nine victories and seven poles.
Moreno, piloting the #20 Visteon/Patrick Racing Toyota Reynard, had a more difficult day. His fastest lap was a 23.311 (159.375 mph) as the Visteon/Patrick Racing team worked diligently in search of the proper setup. Despite struggling somewhat, Moreno and the Visteon/Patrick Racing crew remained upbeat particularly in light of Vasser's performance and the fact that they have the remainder of the day and tomorrow morning's practice to sort out the setup.
"The Visteon/Patrick Racing team is having a hard time getting the car to handle well here," Moreno said. "We tried a lot of things and just couldn't quite get the car right. We have a bad handling situation and we need to find out what is causing it. We need to go back and see what Jimmy did and come up with some ideas for tomorrow. I am confident that we will get things going in the right direction before tomorrow's qualifying," Moreno concluded.
Adding to Moreno's confidence is his performance at Milwaukee last year, his first season with Patrick Racing, when he qualified a career best seventh and finished a career high fifth on the Milwaukee Mile. In six previous races on the Milwaukee Miles he has qualified in the top-10 three times and finished in the points three times.
"As I have said before I consider the Milwaukee Mile to be the best one-mile oval ever in our series," Moreno said. "I think are package will be strong here in qualifying and the race based on Jimmy's performance today and the performance of the Toyota engine last year. The Visteon/Patrick Racing team just needs to sit down and figure out the setup and everything will work out."
Moreno is poised for a strong showing this weekend. He has finished in the points in three consecutive races, 11th at Long Beach, 12th in Nazareth and tenth in Japan, earning his first top-10 showing of the season in Japan. He is currently tied for 15th in the championship standings with six points. Moreno is also working on a streak that has seen him score points in 13 of his last 16 oval races. He has finished in the top-10 in 19 of his last 37 starts and in the points 25 times.
There will be a split practice session tomorrow morning. Group one will practice from 9:30 - 10:15 am with the second group running from 10:30 - 11:15 am. Groups are determined by the point standings so Patrick Racing will have one car in each session. Qualifying for the Miller Lite 225 will begin at 1:30 (local time. The race will be run on Sunday, June 3 at 3:00 p.m. (local time) and will be televised live at 4:00 PM (ET) on ABC.