MONTEREY, CALIFORNIA - SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 9, 2000 - Round 16 of the 2000 FedEx Championship Series - Patrick Racing driver Adrian Fernandez qualified 17th, while teammate Roberto Moreno will line up 19th for tomorrow's Honda Grand Prix of...
MONTEREY, CALIFORNIA - SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 9, 2000 - Round 16 of the 2000 FedEx Championship Series - Patrick Racing driver Adrian Fernandez qualified 17th, while teammate Roberto Moreno will line up 19th for tomorrow's Honda Grand Prix of Monterey at Laguna Seca Raceway in Monterey, California.
Fernandez, driving the #40 Tecate/Quaker State/Patrick Racing Ford-Cosworth, started the day 17th on the provisional grid with a time of 69.925 seconds (115.221 mph). In Saturday morning practice the Tecate/Quaker State/Patrick Racing team continued their search for the elusive set-up that would propel them to the top of the grid. They experimented with several different combinations and definitely improved the car. Fernandez' fastest lap of the morning practice session was 70.380 seconds (114.476 mph), which was an improvement over yesterday morning's fast practice time of 70.678 seconds (113.993.755). Despite his improved time Fernandez dropped from the 15th to the 23rd fastest two-day combined practice speed. That made his final qualifying effort even more impressive as he managed to stay ahead of several cars that appeared to have made even greater improvement. In qualifying the team continued to work hard to make the car better and Fernandez put forth a determined effort. The result was a jump in time and speed, 69.414 seconds (116.069 mph), from the previous day's provisional qualifying, but not in position. Fernandez will line up on the inside of row nine.
"Basically, the Tecate/Quaker State/Patrick Racing team has been struggling to get grip. Unfortunately, we didn't get it this weekend. Roberto and I were both driving on the edge, but it is very hard to put a competitive lap together. I was driving so hard it felt like I was doing a pole lap. Even though we didn't qualify as high as we would have liked the Tecate/Quaker State/Patrick Racing team never gives up. Tomorrow is the race and there are a lot of things that can happen. We have been in this position before during the season and things have worked out. We just have to be patient and consistent, have good pit stops and hopefully, our race strategy will help."
Fernandez has now qualified in the top-10 at seven of 16 races and five of nine road/street circuits this year. He has been in something of a qualifying slump lately having placed in the top-10 once in his last six attempts after starting in the top-10 in six of his first ten races. Fernandez is attempting to extend a streak
that has seen him jump eight spots in the point standings in the last eight races. The 35-year-old Mexican is currently third in the championship standings with 117 points. He is just nine points out of first place. Fernandez was languishing in 11th place in the standings on July 2. Since then he has scored points in each of the last eight starts including a streak of seven consecutive top-10 placements. The Paradise Valley, Arizona resident has finished on the podium in his last two races, placed in the top five in four of his last six races and in the top six in all six.
He has tallied points in 12 of his last 13 starts. In addition to being the hottest driver in the series Fernandez has been the most consistent. The eight-year CART veteran, who is in his third season with Patrick Racing, has finished 12 of 15 races this year (the most of any driver) each time in the points. He has 11 top-10 showings including six top five finishes with four podium appearances and one win. Fernandez is third in miles completed (3048.787 of 3470.041), fourth in laps completed (1874 of 2102) and tenth in laps led (73).
Fernandez has some experience finishing well at Laguna Seca despite a low qualifying position. In seven previous races he has only qualified in the top-10 twice, but he has finished in the top-10 four times and in the points six times. Fernandez' his best finish at Laguna Seca is fifth, last year.
Moreno, in the #20 Visteon/Patrick Racing Ford-Cosworth, began the day 15th on the provisional grid with a time of 69.669 seconds (115.644 mph). During the morning practice session he showed even greater improvement than his teammate running a fast time of 69.710 seconds (115.576 mph) as compared to a 71.090 seconds (113.332 mph) the previous morning. The quick lap was the 13th fastest of the practice session and the 13th fastest on the two-day combined practice report. In qualifying he continued to makes gains running his fastest time of the weekend, a 69.537 second (115.863 laps), but still dropped four spots on the starting grid. Moreno will start the race from the inside of row 20.
"It is a bit disappointing for the Visteon/Patrick Racing team not to get the speed out of the car the way we thought we could. We had a problem today getting a quick lap with the set-up we have. We have been working very hard to try and make it work, but we haven't gotten there yet. We are just going to have to focus now, use all our resources and experience and try to make the Visteon/Patrick Racing Ford-Cosworth better for tomorrow's race. The good thing is we have done a great job all year in the pits and with our race strategy. If we can improve the car a little, get our usual strong work in the pits from the Visteon/Patrick Racing crew, and then have Mr. Patrick and Jim McGee do their magic we should be okay tomorrow."
Moreno has qualified in the top-10 in nine of 16 races and five of nine road/street circuits with one pole this year. The 19th place starting position is his lowest of the season. This is the sixth time in the last seven races Moreno has not qualified in the top-10 after starting in the top-10 in eight of the first nine races. The 41-year-old Brazilian, who last week dropped out of the top three in the FedEx Championship Series point standings for the first time since the third race of the season, is currently fifth in the standings with 115 points. He is two points out of third place and 11 out of first. Moreno led the point's race for almost a month earlier this year while notching his first career CART pole and win (both at
Cleveland). The Weston, Florida resident has finished in the top-10 in three of his last four races and placed in the points all four times. He has finished 11 of 15 races, each time in the points with 10 top-10 showings including six top five finishes and four podium appearances. Moreno is second in miles completed (3082.207), second in laps completed (1904), tied for second in races finished (11) and fifth in laps led (138).
This is the sixth time Moreno has raced at Laguna Seca. In his five previous starts he has placed in the points three times with two-top-10 finishes and a best showing of second achieved last year.
The Honda Grand Prix of Monterey will be run on Sunday, September 10 at 12:00 p.m. (PT) and will be televised live on ESPN at 12:00 p.m. (PT) (3:00 P.M. ET).