CHAMPCAR/CART: Patrick Racing Fontana preview

Patrick Racing Looking To Open Account In Texas Patrick Racing, the most successful team in the history of the Honda Indy 300 on the Gold Coast, is primed to open its 2001 FedEx Championship Series account when the first oval event of the season...

Patrick Racing Looking To Open Account In Texas

Patrick Racing, the most successful team in the history of the Honda Indy 300 on the Gold Coast, is primed to open its 2001 FedEx Championship Series account when the first oval event of the season is run at the Texas Motor Speedway this weekend.

After some consistent performances from Jimmy Vasser and Roberto Moreno in the opening two streets races of the year, Patrick Racing is poised to put some major points in the bank.

While the defending Honda Indy 300 champions have had great success on the streets of Surfers Paradise, it is on ovals where the team has really produced results in recent years.

Patrick Racing cars have started 79 times in the 46 oval races since 1995 and they have 48 top-10 finishes, 28 top-five showings and five victories to their credit.

Moreno, had the two best oval performances, and best 500-mile oval finish, of his career in his debut season with Patrick Racing last year, placing second at Homestead and Fontana.

The addition of Vasser, who has five oval victories, most recently at Fontana in 1998, in nine seasons of CART competition, should add to the team's history of success on ovals.

Vasser, has been particularly strong in his first two outings with the team and is eager to step it up a notch. He has placed sixth in the season opener in Mexico and then fifth at Long Beach and is currently fifth in the FedEx Championship standings with 18 points.

"Patrick Racing had a good test at Texas Motor Speedway back in February so we have a very good baseline and know what direction we want to go," said Vasser, who will be looking to repeat his 1996 Gold Coast win when he returns for round 20 of this year's championship on the streets of Surfers Paradise from October 25-28.

"I think we are a little ahead of the game because of the test. The banking at Texas Motor Speedway is high so it is fairly easy to go flat out, but there are some bumps and that can cause some problems."

Moreno, who has yet to turn a wheel on the 1.5-mile Texas oval, but is confident some great race strategy from Pat Patrick and Jim McGee will help his cause.

Moreno placed 11th at Long Beach and was running a strong race in the season opener when he made contact in turn 12 and ended his day.

"I have never even seen Texas Motor Speedway so it is one of those places where everything will be new for the Visteon/Patrick Racing team," said Moreno.

"Jimmy (Vasser) tested there earlier this year and got a lot of good data. Hopefully, that will help me with the set-up.

"This will be the longest race we have run so far this year and the first oval race, so it will be a good test. Strategy, as on most ovals, will be very important, so I am fortunate to have Mr. Patrick and Jim McGee calling my race. Pit stops will also be very important.

"Based on our pre-season testing the Toyota Reynard package should be very reliable and that is a big plus."

Newman-Haas driver Cristiano da Matta currently leads the championship with 37 points after podium appearances in the first two rounds of the championship.

Marlboro Team Penske teammates Gil de Ferran and Helio Castroneves fill the next two spots on the points table with 30 and 27 points respectively. <pre> 2001 Championship points (After Round 2) 1: Cristiano da Matta 37 2: Gil de Ferran 30 3: Helio Castroneves 27 4: Paul Tracy 26 5: Jimmy Vasser 18 6: Michael Andretti 12 7: Dario Franchitti 12 8: Tony Kanaan 12 9: Kenny Brack 11 10: Nicolas Minassian 7 </pre> *A full replay of the third round of the FedEx Championship Series can be seen on Network Ten on Monday night.

-PR-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Helio Castroneves , Gil de Ferran , Michael Andretti , Jimmy Vasser , Nicolas Minassian , Roberto Moreno , Paul Tracy , Dario Franchitti , Tony Kanaan , Kenny Brack , Cristiano da Matta
Teams Team Penske