FONTANA, CALIFORNIA - SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 4, 2001 -- Round ...
FONTANA, CALIFORNIA - SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 4, 2001 -- Round #21 of the 2001 FedEx Championship Series - Visteon/Patrick Racing 's Jimmy Vasser finished the 2001 FedEx Championship Series season 12th in the point standings while teammate Roberto Moreno placed 13th.
Vasser, driving the #40 Visteon/Patrick Racing Toyota Reynard, concluded the season with a 12th place showing at the Marlboro 500 presented by Toyota to maintain his 12th place position in the championship standings with 77 points. Moreno, behind the wheel of the #20 Visteon/Patrick Racing Toyota Reynard, was driving a superb race when he was forced from the competition on lap 188 with mechanical problems. Moreno finished 19th in the race and placed 13th in the final standings with 76 points.
Vasser started ninth and spent the first stint of the race bouncing between ninth and 13th place. Like the rest of the field he pitted for the first time on lap 34 and rejoined the competition in seventh place. Vasser ran with the lead pack for most of the second stint, taking the lead for five laps before pitting for the second time on lap 77. He came back out in fourth place and spent the entire third stint in the top-10 battling for the lead. Vasser pitted for the third time on lap 123 and almost immediately began dropping in the standings. He was running as low as 18th before his fourth pit stop on lap 156. It was later discovered that his auxiliary oil tank was leaking onto his rear tires, which caused him handling problems during the previous segment. With new tires and the oil pumped out of the auxiliary tank he was once again on the move. At this point the race was reduced from 250 laps to 230. Vasser was in fifth place when the yellow flag came out on lap 180 and the entire field pitted for fuel. When he rejoined the race he once again was running with the lead group, then on lap 188, when the yellow flag came out for Moreno, the #40 Visteon/Patrick Racing team decided to pit a final time for their last bit of fuel. Vasser came out in 15th place. Shortly thereafter, CART officials decided to reduce the race distance for a second time dropping the number of laps from 230 to 220. That destroyed the team's strategy and put all the cars that had pitted during the previous yellow at a huge disadvantage. Vasser battled bad to pick up three places and finish in the points.
"The #40 Visteon/Patrick Racing Toyota Reynard was one of the best cars out on the track for most of race and I really thought we had a good shot at winning the," Vasser said. "We had a handling problem during one of the stints, but the biggest thing was when CART reduced the race again right after we made our final pit stop. That really put us at a disadvantage," Vasser concluded.
The native of California, who is moving to Team Rahal for the 2002 season, finished in the points in his last five races giving him points paying placements in ten of 20 races this year with eight top-10 showings, seven top-six performances and five top-five five finishes. Vasser finished in the points in four of eight oval races this year, with two top-five finishes including a season best fourth place showing at Nazareth. He finished in the points in six of the of 12 road/street races, with five top-six showings. In 66 career CART oval starts, Vasser has finished in the points 47 times with 43 top-10 finishes, 23 top-five showings, 12 podiums and five wins. He has started 101 career CART road/street races finishing in the points 59 times with 51 top-10 finishes, 26 top-five showings, 14 podiums and four wins. The Las Vegas, Nevada resident has started 167 CART races. He has 94 top-10 finishes including 26 podium showings. He has finished 98 of his last 123 races placing in the points 89 times (Milwaukee '95).
"The #40 Visteon/Patrick Racing team was competitive the entire season, we just couldn't get a break," Vasser said. "I really enjoyed my season with the Visteon/Patrick Racing team. This is a first class organization with a first class sponsor. I just wish we could have done better in the championship standings and brought home a couple of victories. I wish both Patrick Racing and Visteon the best of good luck next season, " Vasser concluded.
Moreno, who started 23rd, had an even more spectacular if less successful day. He was on the move from the start of the race reaching as high as 12th before the first pit stop on lap 34. He dropped to 19th after the first pit stop when the #20 Visteon/Patrick tired to remove a shuttle from the side pod in an attempt to get more air flowing to cool the engine. Since the first yellow went so long and the team was already at the back of the pack they decided to pit again on Lap 40, add some fuel and finish removing the shutter. In the end the move actually worked to their advantage as two other cars also pitted and when the green flag dropped on lap 44, Moreno was in 18th place. Back on the move again, Moreno was in 12th place by lap 57. He battled with a group of six cars for the next 20 laps bouncing between 12th and 18th place until his third pit stop on lap 77. Coming out in 14th place Moreno again started picking his way through the field.
He swapped places between seventh and 14h as competitors used the tremendous draft to pass each other going into the corners. Moreno was in 14th place when he made his fourth pit stop on lap 121, and after getting fuel and tires he came back out in 11th position. He quickly moved up, and on lap 140 took the
lead for the first time in the race. Moreno stayed in first for seven laps, but with fuel mileage at a premium and leading not in his best interest he dropped back slightly to take advantage of the increased fuel mileage gained by drafting cars. Moreno was in third place when the team pitted for the fifth time on lap 156. He rejoined the race in third then moved into second place. Moreno was in second place when he pitted for the sixth time on lap 180 and came out in first place. He was just cruising along, getting fantastic fuel mileage and positioning himself for the run to the checkered flag when, on lap 188, he pulled off the track just before turn one with a mechanical problem that put an end to his day.
"I just have to take my hat off to the #20 Visteon/Patrick Racing crew and my engineers. They did a fantastic job for me this weekend," Moreno said. "We didn't have a very fast car in qualifying, but we knew we had a good car for the race. I had this race figured out. All I wanted was a car in front of me so I could save fuel. I could have led this race any time I wanted, but there was no need. We were doing exactly what we needed to do to go for it at the end. Things were looking really good, but unfortunately it was just not meant to be this time," Moreno concluded.
The talented and personable Brazilian finished 14 of 20 races this year placing in the points 11 times. Moreno finished in the top-10 six times with three podiums and one win. The Weston, Florida resident, placed in the points three times in eight oval races this season and eight times in 12 road/street events. He had five top-10 showings including three podiums. His victory came in Vancouver and he took the pole in Australia. Moreno has scored points in 14 of his last 22 oval contests with 10 top-10 finishes, six top-five showings and four podiums. He has finished in the points in 21 of his last 35 road/street course races with 16 top-10 placements, nine top-five showings, six podiums and two wins. Moreno has finished in the top-10 in 24 of his last 53 starts and in the points 33 times.
"I really want to thank the entire Patrick Racing team for all they're had work this year and I would especially like to thank my sponsor Visteon," Moreno said. "We didn't have the kind of season that we should have, but we just had some situations beyond our control. We won one race this year and probably could have won two or three more. The entire team worked extremely well together and we gave it everything we had. Unfortunately, in racing sometimes things just don't go your way," Moreno concluded.