HOUSTON, TEXAS - SUNDAY, OCTOBER 7, 2001 -- Round ...
HOUSTON, TEXAS - SUNDAY, OCTOBER 7, 2001 -- Round #18 of the 2001 FedEx Championship Series - Visteon/Patrick Racing driver Jimmy Vasser drove a strong race to finish 11th today at the Texaco/Havoline Grand Prix of Houston on the temporary street circuit in Houston, Texas. Teammate Roberto Moreno was in contention for a podium finish, and possibly a victory, when a broken gearbox ended his day.
Vasser, in the #40 Visteon/Patrick Racing Toyota Reynard, started 24th. He played a strategy game throughout the race and was running as high as third. However, his luck ran out in the end when he had to pit for a final splash of fuel on lap 80 of the 100-lap competition dropping him back to 15th position. He battled his way up to 11th place earning two points. The native of California remains in 14th place in the 2001 FedEx Championship Series standings with 58 points. He did, however, gain ground in the standings moving to within 18 points of 10th place.
"It was a difficult race for the #40 Visteon/Patrick Racing team," Vasser said. "We started in the back of the field, so we decided to try and save fuel, stay out a few extra laps and try and pick up some track position on the first pit stop. When the first yellow came out as late as it did it changed that strategy, so we pitted. Then when the second yellow was thrown a few laps later we made the decision to stop again. We pitted, refueled and tried to stretch it to the end. Unfortunately, things didn't work out for us and we had to pit for a final splash of fuel," he explained. "On the positive side we went from 24th to 11th place and picked up a couple of points," Vasser concluded.
Moreno, piloting the #20 Visteon/Patrick Racing Toyota Reynard, started 11th, but quickly moved into 10th place. Then on lap 38 he spun dropping all the way back to 20th. Running a strategy driven fuel economy race from that point on the talented Brazilian worked his way back to fifth place and was on course to finish the race without stopping again for fuel. The four cars ahead of him had to pit for a splash of methanol and it was simply going to be a question of whether they could pit and fuel before Moreno could get by. Unfortunately, at that point his gearbox, which had been giving him trouble for much of the contest, became unmanageable forcing him from the competition. The Weston, Florida resident remains in 11th place in the championship standings with 74 points, just two points out of 10th place and 12 out of seventh.
"The #20 Visteon/Patrick Racing team did a great job today," Moreno said. "We had a very quick car and played the strategy game well. We put ourselves in a position to finish on the podium or possibly win the race. Unfortunately we had a problem with the gearbox that put an end to our day. I lost fifth and third gear and it was impossible to drive the car without those two gears. It's a shame because I think we had enough fuel to make it to the end. They told me to get 2.2 mpg and at the end I was getting better than that. We were looking good, but it is just one of those things. Today was just not our day, but the Visteon/Patrick Racing team will come back and be strong next time," Moreno concluded.
Next up for the Visteon/Patrick Racing team is the Honda Grand Prix of Monterey Featuring the Shell 300, October 12-14, at Laguna Seca Raceway in Monterey, California.