JACKSON, MI - - June 21, 2000 - - Patrick Racing drivers Adrian Fernandez and Roberto Moreno are eagerly looking forward to this weekend's Freightliner/G.I. Joe's 200, June 23-25, at Portland International Raceway in Portland, Oregon. Both ...
JACKSON, MI - - June 21, 2000 - - Patrick Racing drivers Adrian Fernandez and Roberto Moreno are eagerly looking forward to this weekend's Freightliner/G.I. Joe's 200, June 23-25, at Portland International Raceway in Portland, Oregon.
Both drivers are coming off disappointing races last weekend in Detroit and getting back on track, literally and figuratively, is what they desire most.
Moreno, who pilots the #20 Visteon/Patrick Racing Ford-Cosworth, was running in third place and poised to move into first place in the FedEx Series standings, when he fell victim to a back-marker fighting for a spot on the track at the wrong time. Teammate Fernandez, who drivers the #40 Tecate/Quaker State/Patrick Racing Ford-Cosworth, was in eighth place and looking to enter the top five in the standings, when he suffered one of the more bizarre incidents in recent memory. Following a pit stop, the tear off from his visor was sucked into the turbo intake forcing him from the race.
Moreno was challenging Max Papis for second place at Detroit when he had to take a wide line to avoid colliding with rookie Takuya Kurosawa. Kurosawa, who was two laps down, had temporarily lost control of his car, but after correcting decided to fight for the line going into the next turn. Moreno's maneuver prevented him from negotiating the next corner and he crashed into the tire barrier. The 17th place finish was only the second time in seven races that Moreno has failed to place in the top-10 (he has two podium finishes a CART career tying second at Miami and a third in Japan) and his lowest showing of the season. Fortunately, the talented Brazilian, who has established himself as a championship contender, didn't lose any ground to series leader Paul Tracy and lost only one place in the standings. He is currently in third place with 52 points, two points out of second and seven out of first.
"Portland is going to be a very important race for the Visteon/Patrick Racing team in terms of the championship. With so many drivers separated by so few points, it is almost like the beginning of the season where everyone starts out the same. With the championship race this close it just reemphasizes how competitive the FedEx Championship Series has become. If you are going to compete for the championship in this series you have to be consistent and get points whenever possible. There are just so many good teams and good drivers that you have to take advantage of every opportunity"
Moreno has been a model of consistency this year. In addition to his five top-10 finishes he has qualified in the top-10 in six of seven races. The Weston, Florida resident is first in miles completed (1486.471 out of 1541.451), second in laps completed (1045 out of 1075) and eighth in laps led (34). Moreno will be racing at PIR for the fourth time. In three previous visits he has qualified as high as 11th, twice 1986 and 1999, and finished as high as seventh, 1999.
"I like the Portland road course very much. It is a circuit where the set-up is very important. In the past, race and fuel strategy have also been a key so I think I have a bit of an advantage because of Mr. Patrick and Jim McGee. The Visteon/Patrick Racing team should be good at Portland. We believe that some of the things we learned about setting up the car at the test in Mid-Ohio and the Detroit race will help us at Portland."
Fernandez, who started 13th, had worked his way into the top-10 following a superb pit stop by the Tecate/Quaker State/Patrick Racing crew. Upon rejoining the race he was unable to apply full power to the car. It was later discovered that while exiting the pit the tear away (a clear plastic sheet that fits over the helmet visor) was sucked into the turbo intake causing the throttle to malfunction. Fernandez finished 21st, snapping his streak of four consecutive top-10 finishes. He is now tenth in the championship standings with 38 points just nine points out of fourth place.
"I am happy that we are racing again so soon. What happened to the Tecate/Quaker State/Patrick Racing team in Detroit was a freak situation. We have to put Detroit behind us and continue working hard. We have been competitive at every race, but just seem to run into bad luck. The Tecate/Quaker State/Patrick Racing crew has done a great job this year. They have given me a good car to race every time out. Fortunately, the championship is very close. I didn't lose any ground in the points, just two places in the standings, so we can get back on the right track in Portland and move up in the points."
The 35-year-old Mexican will be competing on the Portland permanent road circuit for the seventh time. In six previous appearances his best qualifying effort is fifth, last year. He has finished in the top-10 in four of the six races with a best showing of fourth, also last year.
"I like the Portland circuit. It is a challenging and fun track to drive. We have had good results there in the past and I am looking forward to going back there and racing."