CHAMPCAR/CART: Patrick Racing Michigan race notes

BROOKLYN, MICHIGAN - SUNDAY, JULY 22, 2001 -- Round ...

BROOKLYN, MICHIGAN - SUNDAY, JULY 22, 2001 -- Round #11 of the 2001 FedEx Championship Series - Patrick Racing driver's Roberto Moreno and Jimmy Vasser finished 12th and 23rd respective in today's Harrah's 500 at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Michigan.

Moreno, in the #20 Visteon/Patrick Racing Toyota Reyanrd, started 17th. He spent the first 175 laps of the 250 lap competition bouncing between 16th and 21st place, eventually going two laps down, as the he battled a car that was loose particularly in heavy traffic. By the last two segments of the race the Visteon/Patrick Racing crew had made several corrections and the car was much better. That combined with several accidents had Moreno running as high as tenth. However, in the closing laps of the race he dropped back to 12th place where he finished.

"It was another tough day at the office for the #20 Visteon/Patrick Racing team," Moreno said. "We didn't have the car setup quite right at the start of the race. It was extremely loose in traffic. I hung on as best I could while Dave Dembicki, my engineer, and the Visteon/Patrick Racing crew made adjustments to the car. The car was fairly decent after the changes, but by then we were two laps down. The last couple of stints we were able to run with the leaders and the car was good in moderate traffic. Overall it was a pretty good weekend for the Visteon/Patrick Racing team. I had the crash on Friday and came out of that unhurt and even though we didn't have the best car today we still scored a point in the championship," Moreno concluded.

The native of Brazil has now placed in the points in eight of his last nine starts and eight of the 10 races this season (Long Beach - 11th; Nazareth - 12th; Japan - 10th; Detroit - third; Portland - second; Cleveland - eighth; Toronto - 11th; Michigan - 12th). He is tied for 11th in the championship standings with 44 points. In four oval races this year, Moreno has placed in the points three times with a best finish of 10th at Japan (Nazareth and Michigan - 12th). He has placed in the top-10 in 22 of his last 43 starts and in the points 30 times. The Weston, Florida resident has finished in the points in 14 of his last 18 oval races with ten top-10 finishes, six top-five performances and four podiums.

Vasser, driving the #40 Visteon/Patrick Racing Toyota Reynard, had another daywhere bad racing luck got the best of him. Starting 15, his second lowest startingposition in nine races at MIS, Vasser dropped to 17th at the start of the race. He then began working his way through the field getting as high as 12th prior to the first round of pit stops. Following his first stop he went back on the charge and moved into seventh place on lap 56. He remained in the top-10 until the third round of pit stops on lap 109. At that point the #40 Visteon/Patrick Racing crew choose to pit on the yellow, which temporary put Vasser in 17th place. By the time everyone had pitted he was back in 12th place and once again on the move. Then the bad luck that has plagued him in recent races once again surfaced as he was forced to the sidelines with a mechanical problem.

"I don't really know what happen to the #40 Visteon/Patrick Racing Toyota Reynard," Vasser said. "The car was running fine in the race and as far as the heat...I am from Las Vegas so it didn't bother me. Then I had some sort of mechanical problem and we were done for the day. That's the way it goes sometimes. It's unfortunate because there were a lot of Visteon people here for the race and its Mr. Patrick's hometown. I wish I could have done better in my last race at Michigan International Speedway. I usually have some pretty good luck here, but it just wasn't the Visteon/Patrick Racing team's day," Vasser noted.

The 35-year-old native of California, who finished in the top-six in the first four races of the season, and was tied for third place, has now scored points in just one of six races. At Milwaukee he was knocked from the competition while running in third place. In Detroit he was in sixth place when he hit the wall while cleaning his tires during a yellow flag. At Portland he was forced to race with a badly sprained ankle, which he injured on race morning when he stepped on a power cable while exiting his motor coach. Vasser placed fifth at Cleveland, but at Toronto he got entangled in an early lap melee, which put an end to his day. Today, it was a mechanical problem. Vasser is now ninth in the championship race with 50 points. He has finished in the top-five four times this year and has placed in the top-six in five of ten races (Mexico - sixth; Long Beach - fifth; Nazareth - fourth; Japan - fifth; Cleveland - fifth). In the four ovals races this year, he has finished in the top-five twice (Nazareth - fourth; Japan - fifth). Vasser has finished 91 of his last 113 races placing in the points 86 times (dating to Milwaukee `95). In 62 CART career oval starts, he has finished in the points 45 times with 42 top-10 finishes, 23 top-five showings, 12 podium appearances and five wins.

Next up for Patrick Racing is the Target Grand Prix, July 27-29 at Chicago Motor Speedway in Chicago, Illinois.

-PR

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Roberto Moreno