JACKSON, MI - - July 10, 2000 - - Patrick Racing will make the trek north to Toronto, Canada looking to extend its lead in the FedEx Championship Series this weekend at the Molson Indy Toronto. The team, which has led the championship race five...
JACKSON, MI - - July 10, 2000 - - Patrick Racing will make the trek north to Toronto, Canada looking to extend its lead in the FedEx Championship Series this weekend at the Molson Indy Toronto. The team, which has led the championship race five of the last six years, tops the standings after nine events for the first time during that span. Visteon/Patrick Racing driver Roberto Moreno, who captured his first CART pole and won his first CART race two weeks ago at Cleveland, holds a 22-point lead in the FedEx Championship Series standings.
Continuing in the Patrick Racing tradition of having talented veteran drivers join the team and perform at a championship level, Moreno has been both consistent and competitive this year. Now in his seventh CART campaign, but driving just his third full season, the outgoing Brazilian has finished seven of nine races, each time in the top-10 including four podium showings, the win at Cleveland, seconds at Miami and Portland and a third in Japan. The Weston, Florida resident has qualified the #20 Visteon/Patrick Racing Ford-Cosworth in the top-10 in eight of nine races, with one pole, and is first in laps completed, first in miles completed and third in laps led. Moreno took over the lead in the championship standings for the first time in his CART career following his sterling performance in Cleveland.
"When I joined the Visteon/Patrick Racing team I thought it would take some time for the team and I to adjust to each other," Moreno said. "I expected to be within the first six places in the championship at this point, but not leading by 22 points. I think that we have been able to perform at such a high level because of the strong relationship between the Visteon/Patrick Racing team and myself. A lot of the success is because of the strong leadership of Mr. Patrick and Jim McGee, the fact that we have an extremely good engineering staff with Ed Nathman and John Ward, and the hard work of the mechanics.
"Having captured my first victory in CART, and in fact my first win in 12 years, I achieved one of the goals I set out for myself this year," continued Moreno. My goal now is the championship. It is still very early in the season, just short of the halfway mark, so we need to continue to perform at the level we have during the first half of the season. But, the Visteon/Patrick Racing team knows it can compete at a championship level."
Moreno will be racing on the 1.721-mile temporary Toronto street circuit for the fourth time. In his previous three races his best starting position is fourth (1986) and his best finish is fourth last year.
"The Toronto street circuit is a track that I like. Last year I did well there finishing fourth. I enjoy driving all the street circuits, but I particularly like Toronto. I think the team has a very good set-up for these kinds of tracks and my driving style is well suited for the street circuits."
Fernandez, in the #40 Tecate/Quaker State/Patrick Racing Ford-Cosworth, has battled mechanical failures and just plain bad luck for much of the first half of the season. He is currently 11th in the championship race with 45 points, just nine points out of seventh place. The Paradise Valley, Arizona resident has finished six of nine races, placed in the top-10 five times, including a win in Rio, and finished in the points six times this year. He has qualified in the top-10 in six of nine races.
"This has been a very frustrating season," said Fernandez. "The Tecate/Quaker State/Patrick Racing team has run into a streak of bad luck that has hurt us during the first half of the season. Fortunately, despite the bad luck we are still right in the middle of the championship race and still have 11 races left in the season. We haven't lost the desire, or the belief that we can compete for the championship. We just have to pay attention to detail, kept working hard and things will starting going our way."
Fernandez returns to Toronto where he captured his first CART win back in 1996. His best qualifying effort also came in '96 when he started third. In addition to the win, the 35-year-old Mexican has finished in the top-10 three other times in six previous starts at Toronto. He placed sixth in 1999, seventh in 1995 and ninth in 1998.
"The race in Toronto last year was one of the best of my career," said Fernandez. "We didn't qualify well because we had a mechanical problem, but in the race we came on strong passing 17 cars and finishing sixth. I have done well in the past in Toronto and I know we can do well again. I like the track and the city. It is one of the best races we have in the series."