CHAMPCAR/CART: Patrick Racing Mexican GP preview

JACKSON, MI - - MARCH 1, 2001 - -A new engine and the addition of another championship caliber driver have Patrick Racing primed for another run at the Vanderbilt Cup during the 2001 FedEx Championship Series season beginning with the Tecate...

JACKSON, MI - - MARCH 1, 2001 - -A new engine and the addition of another championship caliber driver have Patrick Racing primed for another run at the Vanderbilt Cup during the 2001 FedEx Championship Series season beginning with the Tecate Telmex Monterrey Grand Prix presented by Herdez, March 9-11.

Patrick Racing is coming off one of the most successful seasons in its 29-year history. The team posted its best performance by two drivers in over two decades, and the second best in team history, finishing second and third in the 2000 FedEx Championship Series standings.

Patrick Racing will campaign two Toyota engines with Reynard chassis and Firestone tires in 2001. Roberto Moreno, who begins his second season with the team, will pilot the #20 Visteon/Patrick Racing Toyota Reynard car, while newcomer Jimmy Vasser will be behind the wheel of the #40 Patrick Racing Toyota Reynard entry.

Moreno, 42, is entering his eighth season of CART competition in 2001. The native of Brazil had a career year in 2000, his first season with Visteon/Patrick Racing. He finished a CART career high third in the championship standings in 2000, led the CART standings for the first time, captured his first CART victory and pole (both at Cleveland) and had his best showing in a 500-mile race finishing second in Fontana. Moreno was among the point's leaders all season dropping out of the top five in the standings only once and remaining in the top three for most of the season. The Weston, Florida resident finished 14 of 20 races, each time in the points with 12 top-10 showings including eight top five finishes and six podium appearances with one victory. The talented and personable Moreno, has finished in the top-10 in 18 of his last 33 starts and in the points 22 times.

"I could only achieve the results I did last year because of the Visteon/Patrick Racing team," said Moreno. "The team was very consistent all year. We finished races, always had a very good race car and had extremely good race strategy. I think being consistent; finishing races, will be a strong point for the team again this year. We have a new engine, Toyota, and it has been strong and very reliable in pre-season testing. I am looking forward to another very competitive year for the Visteon/Patrick Racing team," Moreno said.

Commenting on the first race of the season, the Tecate Telmex Monterrey Grand Prix, Moreno noted, "It is always challenging when you go to a new track. From what I have seen and heard the circuit seems to be very wide with several passing areas. It's seems to be one of those places where you need to make the line clean and be on the limit. I'm going to fly there on Monday to start walking and cycling around the track to learn everything I can before I drive there.

Regarding new teammate Jimmy Vasser, Moreno said, "From the first day, I felt very positive about Jimmy joining Patrick Racing because he brings a lot of experience. Jimmy is very easygoing and we've been working extremely well together. We have developed a great relationship and I think it's only going to get better. I think a key thing is that with the in-season testing rules changes having experienced drivers is going to be very important."

Vasser, 35, is entering his tenth CART season. He is one of four CART Champions and three Americans currently competing in the FedEx Championship Series. The native of California, who won the CART Championship in 1996, has started 147 races with 86 top-10 finishes including 26 podium showings, nine victories and seven poles. Last year he finished sixth in the championship standings with 14 top-ten finishes, six top-five showings and four podium performances including a victory at Houston. The 2000 season was the sixth consecutive year that Vasser has finished in top-10 in the point's race. A determined and consistent competitor, Vasser has finished 85 of his last 103 starts and placed in the points 81 times (dating to Milwaukee in 1995).

"I am very exciting about joining Patrick Racing and the start of the 2001 season," Vasser said. "I am very motivated. This is a great opportunity for me and I plan on taking full advantage of it. I definitely want to give Mr. Patrick his money's worth. It's going to be a long season, a long journey, but my focus right now is on Tecate Telmex Monterrey Grand Prix. We have a good team and a good package with the Toyota engine and Reynard chassis, so we just need to get down to business and start on the road toward the championship," Vasser noted.

Vasser, who is one of the few drivers to have taken laps at the new Tecate Telmex Monterrey Grand Prix circuit, albeit in a passenger car, said, "I think the Tecate Telmex Monterrey Grand Prix will be a very festive opening to the season. The track is very challenging and fun for the drivers. It is wide and there are some good places for passing. It is very similar to the Homestead road course. I think the fact that we just tested at Homestead for two days will really help the Patrick Racing team get off to a good start."

Patrick Racing General Manager Jim McGee, who is entering his 42nd year of USAC Championship Car (Indy Car)/CART competition, has been involved in 88 victories, four Indianapolis 500 titles and nine national championships. McGee is the only Manager/Chief Mechanic to win a championship in four decades (60's - 90's). He has at least one victory in each of his last five decades (his 20's, 30's, 40's, 50's, 60's) and at least one victory in each of the last five decades (60's-00).

Commenting on the start of the 2001 FedEx Championship Series season McGee said, "I am very pleased with the way our pre-season testing program has gone. The Toyota engine has been extra, extra reliable and dependable. Our pitstop practices have been very good and Jimmy and Roberto are working very well together. I think the team has really blended together as a group. Overall, I think we are in pretty good shape going into the start of the season. It is going to be a very competitive season because everybody is so close. I don't think anybody will really know how good they are until we get down to Mexico."

Patrick Racing, one of the most successful teams in the history of USAC Championship Car (Indy Car)/CART racing with 44 victories including three Indianapolis 500 titles and two national championships, is owned and led by one of the most respected names in CART, U. E. "Pat" Patrick. The co-founder of Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART), Patrick is also the "father" of the PPG-Dayton Indy Lights Championship and most recently became the owner of the Tecate Telmex Monterrey Grand Prix presented by Herdez.

Patrick noted that, "There have been a lot of changes at Patrick Racing since the end of last year. We have switched to the Toyota engine, which I think is the engine of choice and has proven to be extremely reliable during pre-season testing. Preseason testing has also reinforced our faith in the competitiveness of the Reynard chassis. Additionally, we have added another championship caliber driver in Jimmy Vasser. I am looking forward to another extremely competitive season. CART is the most competitive series in the world and I am sure that with the support of our sponsors, Visteon Corporation, Futaba, Dupont, Free Markets and ABB plus manufacturers like, Toyota, Reynard and Firestone, that we will once again be in contention for the championship.

-PR-

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Jimmy Vasser , Roberto Moreno