CICERO, ILLINOIS - FRIDAY, JULY 27, 2001 -- Round ...
CICERO, ILLINOIS - FRIDAY, JULY 27, 2001 -- Round #12 of the 2001 FedEx Championship Series - Visteon/Patrick Racing's Roberto Moreno is 20th while teammate Jimmy Vasser is 21st on the combined speed charts following the first day of practice for the Target Grand Prix at Chicago Motor Speedway in Cicero, Illinois.
Moreno piloting the #20 Visteon/Patrick Racing Toyota Reynard spent most of the morning practice searching for the proper setup for the challenging one-mile banked Chicago Motor Speedway oval. His fastest time of the session was 24.504 seconds (151.175 mph) placing him 25th on the morning speed charts. In the afternoon practice, Moreno and the Visteon/Patrick Racing crew continued to work hard to develop the car and their efforts paid off. Moreno showed a tremendous improvement in speed turning a quick lap of 24.192 seconds (153.125 mph). The time was the 15th fastest of the afternoon session and put him 20th on the combined practice report. Although he sits in the lower part of the speed charts, Moreno expressed pleasure at the improvements to the car and confidence that qualifying would produce better results.
"Overall the #20 Visteon/Patrick Racing team had a good day," Moreno said. "We started the day with a slow car. Then both the Visteon/Patrick Racing crews started working on different things and we came up with a good direction. In afternoon practice we went out on new tires and ran a fast time. We stayed on that set of tires for the rest of the session and 40 laps later we were able to run the same time. That means we have improved the car and with a new set of tires we would have been right up front. I am quite happy. We have made big improvements to the Visteon/Patrick Racing Toyota Reynard and I think we have a fast car. Tomorrow morning we will fine-tune the car and I think we will be good in qualifying," Moreno concluded
Moreno is racing at Chicago Motor Speedway for the third time. He has qualified in the top-10 just once in two attempts lining up eighth in 1999. The talented and personable native of Brazil has finished in the top-10 in both previous Target Grand Prix races with a best showing of sixth last year (he placed ninth in 1999).
He is one of only two drivers to score points in both appearances at Chicago Motor Speedway.
Moreno has been the most reliable and consistent during the first half of the 2001 FedEx Championship Series season. He has finished nine of the ten races and placed in the points in eight of ten races this year. Moreno has completed the most races and is second in laps and miles completed. The Weston, Florida resident has placed in the points in eight of his last nine races and on three of the four ovals this season (Long Beach - 11th; Nazareth - 12th; Japan - 10th; Detroit - third; Portland - second; Cleveland - eighth; Toronto - 11th; Michigan - 12). He has qualified in the top-10 in four of 11 races this year. Moreno is tied for 11th in points with 44, but holds down the number 12 position in the championship standings based on best finishes (a second at Portland to Max Papis first, coincidentally, at the same race). He has finished in the points in 14 of his last 18 oval races with ten top-10 finishes, six top-five performances and four podiums. Moreno has finished in the top-10 in 22 of his last 43 starts and in the points 30 times.
Vasser, in the #40 Visteon/Patrick Racing Toyota Reynard, also fought to find the right combination during the morning practice. His quickest lap of the morning was 24.408 seconds (151.770 mph) putting him 20th on the speed charts. During the afternoon practice the #40 Visteon/Patrick Racing team continued to work diligently on the setup with some success. Vasser's fastest time in afternoon practice was also dramatically improved. He ran a fast lap of 24.199 seconds (153.125 mph). Although he was 16th on the afternoon speed charts he ended up 21st on the combined practice report.
"The #40 Visteon/Patrick Racing team is struggling with a lot of understeer in the car," Vasser explained. "We have been working very hard to correct the problem. I think we have a good idea of which direction to go, but the Visteon/Patrick Racing team is going to have to go through the data and come up with a plan for tomorrow. I am confident that we will be able to make the necessary changes and have a good qualifying run," Vasser concluded.
Vasser, like his teammate has enjoyed success at Chicago Motor Speedway. He is the only other driver to score points at both previous Target Grand Prix races finishing in the top-10 both times with a best showing of third at the inaugural event in 1999 (he placed eighth last year). The 35-year-old native of California has qualified in the top in both Target Grand Prix races with a best starting position of third at the inaugural event in 1999.
Vasser started the season strong finishing in the top-six in the first four races. Since then he has become the victim of everything from just plain bad luck finishing in the points in just one of his last six races. The talented and determined resident of Las Vegas, Nevada has finished in the top-five four times this year and has placed in the top-six in five of ten races (Mexico - sixth; Long Beach - fifth; Nazareth - fourth; Japan - fifth; Cleveland - fifth). He has finished in the top-five in two of the four oval races this year (Nazareth - fourth; Japan - fifth). Vasser has started in the top-10 in five of 11 races this year. He is currently ninth in the 2001 FedEx Championship Series standings with 50 points.
In 62 CART career oval starts, Vasser has finished in the points 45 times with 42 top-10 finishes, 23 top-five showings, 12 podium appearances and five wins.
He has finished 91 of his last 113 races placing in the points 86 times (dating to Milwaukee `95)
There will be another a split practice session tomorrow morning beginning with group one taking to the track from 9:30 - 10:15 AM. Moreno and Vasser will be in the second session, which will run from 10:30 - 11:15 AM. Qualifying will begin at 1:30 PM. The Target Grand Prix will be run on Sunday, July 29 at 3:00 PM (CT) and will be televised live on ABC.