Visteon/Patrick Racing's Jimmy Vasser Finishes Sixth At Honda Indy 300 Moreno Leads Most Laps, But Succumbs To Mechanical Problem SURFERS PARADISE, QUEENSLAND, AUSTRALIA - SUNDAY, OCTOBER 28, 2001 -- Round ...
Visteon/Patrick Racing's Jimmy Vasser Finishes Sixth At Honda Indy 300
Moreno Leads Most Laps, But Succumbs To Mechanical Problem
SURFERS PARADISE, QUEENSLAND, AUSTRALIA - SUNDAY, OCTOBER 28, 2001 -- Round #20 of the 2001 FedEx Championship Series - Visteon/Patrick Racing's Jimmy Vasser earned a hard fought sixth place finish today at the Honda Indy 300 on the streets of Surfers Paradise, Queensland, Australia. Teammate Roberto Moreno was fighting for the victory and led the most laps, but eventually was knocked from the competition with a mechanical problem.
Vasser started the race tenth, but moved into ninth place on the opening lap. He moved into eighth place on lap 20 as cars began pitting for fuel. Vasser, who had been saving fuel throughout the first stint, was working a strategy that would allow him to stay out later then most of the other competitors and potentially pick up track position. Unfortunately, just as he was about to pit the first yellow flag of the day was flown, closing the pits and forcing Vasser to stay out and pack up. With his lead evaporated he finally pitted on lap 25. When he rejoined the race he was in 14th place. Vasser moved into 13th position on lap 40 while once again employing the same fuel saving strategy. When other drivers began to pit for the second time, he was again able to stay out longer. This time there was no yellow and the strategy worked. After stopping for the second time on lap 50 he came out in ninth place. Vasser moved into eighth place when his teammate dropped out and then into sixth when Scott Dixon was forced to the sidelines. On the last lap of the race, Vasser moved into sixth place when Paul Tracy pulled off with a mechanical problem.
"During the first stint we were saving fuel so we could pit later than everyone else and pick up some track position," Vasser said. "Unfortunately, our strategy was wrecked when the first yellow came out and the pits were closed. It cost us our lead when we had to stay out and pack up. That meant when we finally were allowed to pit we went way back in the pack," Vasser explained. "So many times this year things have gone against us as a team. I started so far back and then fell further back with the closing of the pits, but both the Visteon/Patrick Racing Toyota Reynard's were very quick today and I was able to fight back, finish sixth and pick up some points. The good news is we have a good shot at finishing in the top-10 in the championship points with a strong performance in Fontana," Vasser concluded.
Vasser earned eight points for his efforts today and is now 12 place in the 2001 FedEx Championship Series standings with 76 points (tied in points with his teammate). He is just seven points out of 10th place. The native of California, who have finished in the top-10 in the championship standings for six consecutive years, continued his late season surge. He has finished in the points in four consecutive races matching his longest streak of the season (the first four races). He has now finished in the points five times in 10 races at Surfers Paradise with four top-10 showings, two podiums and a victory in 1996.
Vasser has scored points in nine of 19 races this year placing in the top-10 eight times, the top-six seven times and the top-five five times. His best finish is a fourth at Nazareth. The Las Vegas, Nevada resident has finished in the points in six of the of 12 road/street races, with five top-six showings. He has started 101 CART career road/street races finishing in the points 59 times with 51 top-10 finishes, 26 top-five showings, 14 podiums and four wins. In 166 CART career starts Vasser has 94 top-10 finishes including 26 podium showings. He has finished 97 of his last 122 races placing in the points 89 times (Milwaukee '95).
Moreno, who qualified on the pole for the second time in his CART career, was making his 100th CART start today. He fell into second place on the opening lap and remained there until Gil de Ferran pitted on lap 22. Moreno led the next two laps pitting for the first time on lap 23. Benefiting from the extra laps with minimum fuel in the tanks and getting outstanding pit work from his #20 Visteon/Patrick Racing crew, Moreno rejoined the race in fourth place on lap 24. He went back into the lead on lap 25 when the three drivers in front of him pitted for the first time (including his teammate Vasser). Moreno led the race for the next 22 laps, but then began experiencing a problem with his gearbox. He lost one position prior to his second pit stop on lap 48. Moreno came back into the race in sixth place and moved into third place within four laps as other competitors pitted for their second time. He ran third for two laps, but then lost oil pressure in his gearbox. The team called him into the pits on lap 54 and that was the end of his day. Moreno finished 22nd.
"The #20 Visteon/Patrick Racing team did a great job today," Moreno said. "Unfortunately, we had a mechanical problem in the gearbox that put an end to our day. It started with a vibration and then I lost second gear. I was racing without second gear, which is very tough on this track, but I was able to do that and defend my position. Eventually, we lost oil pressure in the gearbox, so the crew called me in because it was going to blow up in a couple of laps," Moreno explained. "It's unfortunate, but that's racing. That is why when you overcome all the challenges of a race and win it is so satisfying," Moreno concluded.
Moreno, who earned one point for taking the pole and one point for leading the most laps, remains 11th in the championship standings also with 76 points (his victory in Vancouver give him the tiebreaker over Vasser). In three races at Surfers Paradise his best finish remains 12th in 1996.
The native of Brazil remains mired in a streak that has seen him failed to score points in five consecutive races despite being very competitive. Moreno has now finished 14 of 19 races, placing in the points 11 times. The Weston, Florida resident has finished in the top-10 six times with three podiums and one win. Moreno has been exceptionally strong on the road/street circuits this year. He has points paying finishes in five of the seven street races with three top-10 showings, two podium appearances a win and a pole. Moreno has finished in the points in eight of 12 road/street events this year with five top-10 showings including three podiums and the win and the pole. 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 52 starts and in the points 33 times.
Visteon/Patrick Racing continues to perform well on road/street circuits this Year. Visteon/Patrick Racing has had their best performances of the season on the street circuits in 2001. In seven street races, 14 starts, Moreno and Vasser have combined to produce nine finishes in the points with six top-10 performances, four top-five showings and two podium appearances including a win. Of the 12 road/street races, 24 starts, Visteon/Patrick Racing has finished in the points 14 times, with 10-10 showings, six top-five, three podiums a win and a pole.
Patrick Racing's overall record at Surfers Paradise is even very impressive. In eight races, 13 starts, they have finished in the points a remarkable 11 times with 10 top-10 finishes, seven top-five performances, five podium appearances and two wins (Pruett - 1997 and Fernandez - 2000).
Next up for Visteon/Patrick Racing is the Marlboro 500 at California Speedway in Fontana, California, November 2-4.