CICERO, ILLINOIS - SUNDAY, JULY 29, 2001 -- Round ...
CICERO, ILLINOIS - SUNDAY, JULY 29, 2001 -- Round #12 of the 2001 FedEx Championship Series - The Visteon/Patrick Racing team had one of the most difficult days of the 2001 FedEx Championship Series season as Jimmy Vasser finished 14th and Roberto Moreno placed 20th at today's Target Grand Prix at Chicago Motor Speedway in Cicero, Illinois.
The team started the weekend strong with their second best qualifying performance of the year earning their combined best starting positions on an oval this season. Unfortunately, things went a bit array in the race as they had their second lowest finishing positions of the year and placed both cars out of the points for just the second time this season.
Vasser in the #40 Visteon/Patrick Racing Toyota Reynard, stated sixth, his highest qualifying position on an oval this year, (he started fifth at Milwaukee when cars were grided by points due to rain). He immediately moved into second place, but quickly dropped to third in an effort to save his tires and fuel. Vasser remained in third place until the first round of pit stops. Pitting later than all but two cars, on lap 83, he ended up losing track position instead of gaining it, which is normally the case when you stay out longer and run on an open track with a low load of fuel. Rejoining the race in 11th position, Vasser held station until lap 117, when, the team decided to take a gamble. With the yellow flag out, one of only two in the race, they pitted hoping that they would get enough yellow flag laps during the rest of the race to allow them to finish the competition in two stops. He was came back on track in 13th place and when the leaders pitted for the second time, between lap 160 and 170, Vasser found himself in fifth place. But, fate would not smile on the Visteon/Patrick Racing team as the track remained green forcing Vasser to stop once more time, which he did on lap 186. The final stop dropped him out of the points.
This is the first time the 35-year-old native of California has not finished in the top-10 in three races at Chicago Motor Speedway. Vasser has finished in the top-five four times this year and has placed in the top-six in five of 11 races. He is 10th ninth in the championship standings with 50 points. The Las Vegas, Nevada resident has now started 62 CART career oval races finishing in the points 45 times with 42 top-10 finishes, 23 top-five showings, 12 podium appearances and five wins. He has finished 92 of his last 114 races placing in the points 86 times (dating to Milwaukee '95)
Moreno, behind the wheel of the #20 Visteon/Patrick Racing Toyota, also started a season high on an oval in seventh position. He did not get off to quit as good a start as his teammate, dropping to tenth at the start, but other than that he utilized the same strategy with exactly the same results. There was one one notable exception. After pitting for the third time for a splash of fuel on lap 200, Moreno was forced to come back in on lap 201 when something starting smoking on his car. The team quickly doused the fire, restarted the car and Moreno finished the race.
This is also the first time that Moreno has not finished in the top-10 or the points at Chicago Motor Speedway. He has now finished in the points in eight of his last 10 races and eight of the 11 events this year. He has completed the most races, the second most laps and miles. Moreno has placed in the points three of the five ovals races this season (Long Beach - 11th; Nazareth - 12th; Japan - 10th; Detroit - third; Portland - second; Cleveland - eighth; Toronto - 11th; Michigan - 12). He is now tied for 12th in the championship standings with 44 points. Moreno has finished in the points in 14 of his last 19 oval races with ten top-10 finishes, six top-five performances and four podiums. He has finished in the top-10 in 22 of his last 44 starts and in the points 30 times.
"Both the Visteon/Patrick Racing Toyota Reynards were running very competitively at the start of the race. However, we had decided on a race strategy that didn't worked the way we had hoped during the first pit stop. That put us in a hole, so we gambled and pitted early the second time. The gamble didn't pay off. It is unfortunate, but sometimes that is the way things go in racing. I want to compliment both Visteon/Patrick Racing crews and the drivers. They did a very good job today. We just didn't have the right plan in place for this race."
Next up for Visteon/Patrick Racing is the Miller Lite 200, August 10-12, at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio.