CHAMPCAR/CART: Patrick Racing Fontana Friday notes

FONTANA, CALIFORNIA - FRIDAY, OCTOBER 27, 2000 - Round 20 of the 2000 FedEx Championship Series - Adrian Fernandez was 12th and Roberto Moreno 22nd following the first day of practice for the Marlboro 500 at California Speedway in Fontana, ...

FONTANA, CALIFORNIA - FRIDAY, OCTOBER 27, 2000 - Round 20 of the 2000 FedEx Championship Series - Adrian Fernandez was 12th and Roberto Moreno 22nd following the first day of practice for the Marlboro 500 at California Speedway in Fontana, California.

The 90-minute morning practice at the 2-mile superspeedway oval was cancelled due to rainy conditions therefore the afternoon session, which was originally scheduled for 60 minutes, was expanded to 90 minutes.

Fernandez, driving the #40 Tecate/Quaker State/Patrick Racing Ford-Cosworth, began the session in his primary car, but after experiencing problems with fourth gear, switched to his backup car for most of the session. The Tecate/Quaker State/Patrick Racing team experimented with a variety of setups and aerodynamic devices, and after 60 minutes hit on a setup that produced top-ten results for much of the remainder of the practice. It was only in the last two minutes that Fernandez dropped out of the top-ten. His quick lap for the day was 30.865 seconds (236.656 mph).

"The Tecate/Quaker State/Patrick Racing Ford-Cosworth stated the practice session with a problem with fourth gear. That forced us to switch to the back-up car early in the session. The backup car felt good, we just didn't have a lot of speed at the beginning. We had a few problems with our pit speed limiter that cost us some time in penalties, but we corrected that. Once we got up to speed the backup car felt good. We changed some of the aerodynamic devices and that made the car quicker. I think with a few minor changes that we will do for qualifying we can hopefully go for the pole."

Fernandez, who is the defending champion at Fontana, is looking to capture his first CART Championship this weekend in Fontana. He is currently second in the championship standings just five points out of first place, 153-148. The 35-year-old Mexican is working on a streak of 12 consecutive points paying finishes and has scored points in 16 of his last 17 starts. Fernandez has placed in the top-10 in 10 of his last 12 races while compiling seven top-six finishes in his last 10 starts including five top five showings and four podiums. The eight-year CART veteran, who is in his third season with Patrick Racing, has finished 16 of 19 races this year each time in the points. He has 14 top-10 showings including seven top-five finishes with five podium appearances and two wins. The Paradise Valley, Arizona resident has qualified in the top-10 in eight of 19 races this year. He has not finished lower than fourth in three previous races at Fontana. His best starting position is 13th achieved last year.

Moreno, driving the #20 Visteon/Patrick Racing Ford-Cosworth, was running at California Speedway for just the second day. He has never raced here and has had just one day of testing at the facility, at the end of September. Therefore, the Visteon/Patrick Racing team took its time in practice insuring that Moreno developed confidence in the car and gained as much valuable track time as possible. His fastest lap of the day was a 31.284 seconds (233.487 mph).

"I am quite happy with the way the Visteon/Patrick Racing Ford-Cosworth is performing. I have a lot of confidence with the car right now. We aren't fast at this point because we have a big push (understeer), but we are working to get rid of that. The biggest thing is that I am gaining a lot of confidence in the car and running on this track. I only have one day of testing on this circuit, that is my only track time here, so the biggest thing is to get as many miles in as possible.

Moreno, who is tied for fifth in the championship standings with 131 points, has a mathematical, albeit slim, chance to take the FedEx title. The 41-year-old Brazilian is 22 points out of first place meaning he would have to take the pole, lead the most laps and win the race, and the four drivers in front of him in the points would all have to fail to finish. Moreno, a seven-year CART veteran, is competing in just his third full season, and first with Visteon/Patrick Racing. Moreno, who has been among the point's leaders all season, has been out of the top five in the standings only once this year, after Monterey, and among the top three for most of the season. The Weston, Florida resident has finished 13 of 19 races this year, each time in the points with 11 top-10 showings including seven top five finishes and five podium appearances (tied for third) with one victory. Moreno has qualified in the top-10 in nine of 19 races.

In other news today Patrick Racing finished fourth and fifth in the five-team Craftsman Pit Crew Challenge Finals. The #40 Tecate/Quaker State/Patrick Racing team, which entered the finals in first place based on their season long performance, placed fourth, while the #20 Visteon/Patrick Racing team, who led the standings for much of the early part of the season, finished fifth.

Qualifying for the Marlboro 500 is at 10:45 a.m. (PT) tomorrow. The race is Sunday, October 29 at 11:30 a.m. (PT). It will be shown live on ESPN.

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Adrian Fernandez