CHAMPCAR/CART: Patrick Racing Chicago race notes

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - SUNDAY, JULY 30, 2000 -- Round 12 of the 2000 FedEx Championship Series - Patrick Racing's Adrian Fernandez finished fifth, while teammate Roberto Moreno placed sixth at today's Target Grand Prix at Chicago Motor Speedway in...

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - SUNDAY, JULY 30, 2000 -- Round 12 of the 2000 FedEx Championship Series - Patrick Racing's Adrian Fernandez finished fifth, while teammate Roberto Moreno placed sixth at today's Target Grand Prix at Chicago Motor Speedway in Chicago, Illinois.

This is the fifth time this season that Patrick Racing has placed both cars in the top-10 (Rio: Fernandez, one/Moreno, six; Japan: Moreno, three/Fernandez, ten; Milwaukee: Moreno, five/Fernandez, eight; Cleveland: Moreno, one/Fernandez, seven; Chicago: Fernandez, five/Moreno, six). It is the second time they have placed two cars in the top six. Of the ten two-car teams competing at the Target Grand Prix, Patrick Racing was the only team to start and finish both cars.

In total, Patrick Racing's drivers gained a total of 21 positions. Fernandez started 19th and finished fifth, while Moreno stated 13th and finished sixth. Patrick Racing is the most durable team in the FedEx Championship Series. Combining both Moreno and Fernandez' statistics the team is first in laps and miles completed.

Fernandez, driving the #40 Tecate/Quaker State/Patrick Racing Ford-Cosworth, had a spectacular race. The 35-year-old Mexican, who started 19th, his lowest qualifying position of the year, drove a strong, steady race and benefited from solid pit work from his Tecate/Quaker State/Patrick Racing crew and a smart race strategy. His 14-position improvement was the most of any driver in the race. In addition, he notched the fastest lap of the race, turning a quick lap of 23.713 seconds (156.212 mph). Fernandez was running in 14th position when the Tecate/Quaker State/Patrick Racing team decided to take advantage of the third yellow of the race and pit on lap 38.

Although the stop was well ahead of schedule (based on 2 miles to the gallon, sometime around lap 70) he did pit with the majority of the lead cars. Fernandez was in 17th place when the crash between the Paul Tracy and Dario Franchitti brought out the fourth yellow flag of the race. Pitting in 15th position, the Tecate/Quaker State/Patrick Racing crew decided to adjust the tire pressure and therefore changed rubber. Fernandez came out of the pits in 15th place and ran between 13 and 15 for the next 32 laps before pitting out of sequence during the fifth yellow flag on lap 111. This would have allowed him to go to about lap 192 of the 225-lap race and the gamble didn't cost him any track position. When most of the field had to pit for fuel between laps 160 and 170 Fernandez moved into second place one lap up on third place.

One lap later, the sixth yellow came out so the Tecate/Quaker State/Patrick Racing team took the opportunity to come in for their final pit stop. When he rejoined the race, Fernandez found himself in sixth place. Shortly thereafter, Juan Montoya retired with an engine problem moving Fernandez into fifth. At that point the lead cars were just a bit too strong and he had to settle for the top five finish.

"It was a tough race for the Tecate/Quaker State/Patrick Racing team, as I predicted. I passed Michel Jourdain at the start of the race and after that it was very difficult. On one of the restarts I had a problem. I tried to go around somebody and I got up in the marbles and lost a few positions. The line here really closes up very quickly and that limits what you can do. At the end of the race I had a vibration on the left front and I could just barely hold on to the steering wheel the last few laps. I knew Roberto (Moreno) was coming up behind me, so I was just trying to bring the car home.

"Overall I am happy with the result. The Tecate/Quaker State/Patrick Racing team started way in the back, but the team played our race strategy very well. The Tecate/Quaker State/Patrick Racing crew gave me a great car. They are the ones who earned this finish today and our sixth place standing in the point's race," Fernandez said.

Fernandez earned ten points for his efforts and is currently sixth in the FedEx Championship Series standings with 79 points. He is just three points out of fourth and 10 out of third. The Paradise Valley, Florida resident has finished nine of 12 races this year, placing in the top-10 eight times including four top five finishes with a win in Rio. He has scored points in nine races. Fernandez has qualified in the top-10 in seven of 12 races. He is fourth in laps completed, fifth in miles completed; and ninth in laps led.

Moreno, in the #20 Visteon/Patrick Racing Ford-Cosworth, had almost as satisfying a day. Starting 13, he ran in the low and middle teens throughout the first stint. He also pitted for the first time, during the yellow on lap 38. Moreno picked up a couple of places during his second stint, due to attrition, and was running in 11th position, when he pitted for the second time on lap 79. Since the Visteon/Patrick Racing team had changed tires just 41 laps earlier and weren't having any problems, they decided to forgo rubber during this stop. When the 41-year-old Brazilian rejoined the contest he was in fourth place. Although he battled mightily, Moreno gradually slipped to sixth place on lap 149. He pitted for the final time on lap 160, and after the deck was shuffled for cars pitting and dropping out, found himself in sixth place again where he remained for the rest of the race.

"I think it was a great result for the Visteon/Patrick Racing team. We came from the back, made up a lot of positions and scored some valuable championship points. Mr. Patrick and Jim McGee, once again, called a great race. Our race strategy was perfect. The Visteon/Patrick Racing Ford-Cosworth had a lot vibration at the end of the last run. When I closed on my teammate Adrian (Fernandez), I felt a big vibration. So I decided not to risk it, finish where I was and take the points," Moreno said.

Moreno picked up eight points today and retained second place in the championship standings. He now trials today's runner-up Michael Andretti, 120-98. He has finished eight of 12 races, each time in the top-10 including four podium showings. He captured his first career CART victory at Cleveland, took seconds at Miami and Portland and a third in Japan. The Weston, Florida resident has qualified in the top-10 in eight of 12 races, with one pole (a CART career first at Cleveland). He is third in laps and miles completed and fifth in laps led.

"This was a very important race for the Visteon/Patrick Racing team to finish and place high in the points because we didn't finish the last two races. The Visteon/Patrick Racing team will take sixth place today and be very happy. We are still second in the FedEx Championship Series standings and are headed to some tracks where we should have a very good race car," said Moreno.

Next up for Patrick Racing is the Miller Lite 200 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio.

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Michael Andretti , Adrian Fernandez , Roberto Moreno , Paul Tracy , Dario Franchitti , Michel Jourdain