MADISON, ILLINOIS - FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 15, 2000 - Round 17 of the 2000 FedEx Championship Series - Roberto Moreno is 18th and Adrian Fernandez 21st on the combined practice report following the first day of practice for the Motorola 300 at Gateway...
MADISON, ILLINOIS - FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 15, 2000 - Round 17 of the 2000 FedEx Championship Series - Roberto Moreno is 18th and Adrian Fernandez 21st on the combined practice report following the first day of practice for the Motorola 300 at Gateway International Raceway in Madison, Illinois.
Moreno, in the #20 Visteon/Patrick Racing Ford-Cosworth, ran with the first or "slow" group in the morning split practice session based on his 13th place qualifying position on the Chicago Speedway oval. He was second fastest in his group and 13th fastest overall after combining the two groups. However, if you took out the back-up car's times he was 11th on the speed charts. His quick time was 26.525 seconds (172.366 mph). In the afternoon practice session, which featured all the cars on the track at the same time, Moreno concentrated, as he did for much of the morning session, on the race set-up for the Visteon/Patrick Racing Ford-Cosworth. His fast time in the afternoon was 26.551 seconds (172.197 mph), which was the 13th quickest time of the session. His morning time, which was slightly faster, put him 18th on the overall combined practice report. That places Moreno in the first (slow) group in tomorrow morning's split practice session in preparation for qualifying.
"The Visteon/Patrick Racing team came here with a good baseline set-up. We have just been fine-tuning the car and making it work on full tanks. That is what we concentrated on this afternoon...our race set-up. I am quite pleased with the Visteon/Patrick Racing Ford-Cosworth for the race. Now we just have to work on qualifying for tomorrow. We have done our work for the race now we have to work on qualifying."
Moreno is currently sixth in the standings with 115 points and remains within easy striking distance of the top spot. He is just seven points out of third place and 17 out of first. The 41-year-old Brazilian, who led the FedEx Championship Series point standings for almost a month earlier in the season, fell out of the top three in the championship race for the first time since the third race of the season two weeks ago at Vancouver and out of the top five last week in Monterey. The Weston, Florida Resident has finished in the top-10 in three of his last five races and placed in the points four times. He has finished 11 of 16 races (tied for fifth), each time in the points with 10 top-10 showings including six top five finishes and four podium appearances with one victory (his CART career first at Cleveland). Moreno has qualified in the top-10 in nine of 16 races. This will be the third time Moreno has raced at Gateway International Raceway. In his two previous starts his best qualifying position is 16th (1997) and his best finish is fourth, last year.
Fernandez, driving the #40 Tecate/Quaker State/Patrick Racing Ford-Cosworth, also ran in the first group in morning practice as a result of his 19th place starting position in Chicago. He ran the fourth fastest time of his group with a 26.704 second (171.210 mph) lap, which placed him 17th (15th without back-up cars) on the combined morning practice report. In the afternoon combined session he was 20th fastest with a time of 26.838 seconds (170.355 mph) placing him 21st on the day's combined practice report based on his morning time. He will run in the first group in tomorrow morning's pre-qualifying practice.
"I think the Tecate/Quaker State/Patrick Racing Ford-Cosworth is a good race car. This afternoon we ran on full tanks and old tires the whole time. We never really got a chance to try new tires. We were going to try new tires at the end, but the yellow flags didn't help us. Overall, even though we are back a little on the speed charts, I don't think we are bad. I think, in the end, we will be able to get a good balance on the car for qualifying and I think this afternoon was very valuable for us to get an idea of how the car is going to be for the race."
Fernandez is currently fourth in the championship standings with 18 points. He is just four points out of third place and 14 out of first. The 35-year-old Mexican, who has scored points in nine consecutive races with seven top-10 showings, has finished in the top five in four of his last seven races and in the top six in six of the seven. Fernandez, who was languishing in 11th place in the point's race as late as July 2, has jumped seven places during the nine-race span. The Paradise Valley, Arizona resident has tallied points in 13 of his last 14 starts. He has finished 13 of 16 races this year (the most of any driver) each time in the points. Fernandez has 11 top-10 showings including six top five finishes with four podium appearances and one win (Rio). He has qualified in the top-10 at seven of 16 races. Fernandez will be competing at Gateway International Raceway for the fourth time. In his previous three starts his best qualifying position is seventh, last year and his best finish is eighth in 1997.
Qualifying for the Motorola 300 will begin at 1:30 pm (PT) tomorrow. The race will be run on Sunday, September 17 at 1:30 p.m. (Midwest time) and will be televised on ESPN (see local listings).