PORTLAND, OREGON - FRIDAY, JUNE 22, 2001 -- Round ...
PORTLAND, OREGON - FRIDAY, JUNE 22, 2001 -- Round #8 of the 2001 FedEx Championship Series - Visteon/Patrick Racing drivers Jimmy Vasser and Roberto Moreno are 10th and 11th respectively on the combined practice report following the first day of practice for the Freightliner/G. I. Joe's 200 at Portland International Raceway in Portland, Oregon.
During the morning practice both Visteon/Patrick Racing drivers started the 90-minute session in their backup cars to make sure that they were in proper order. Vasser and Moreno posted solid times in the backups, which they ran for the first 30 minutes. After switching to their primary cars Vasser, in the #40 Visteon/Patrick Racing entry, came on strong running a quick time of 59.257 seconds (119.621), which put him at the top of the speed charts right off the bat. The time held up as one of the top two fastest for much of the session, but in the closing moments a couple of drivers posted quicker times dropping Vasser to sixth on the morning speed chart. Moreno, and his #20 Visteon/Patrick Racing crew, had a little more difficult time in the morning session. After switching to the primary car he quickly posted his fastest time of the session running a fast lap of 59.701 seconds (118.732). The team then began to experiment, but could not find the right combination as they searched for more speed. By the end of the session Moreno was sitting 20th on the charts.
In afternoon practice both drivers showed improvement. Vasser made some gains at the outset and spent most of the session fourth on the speed chart. In the last ten minutes of practice he found even more speed running a fast time of 58.931 seconds (120.283 mph), however several other drivers made bigger gains dropping Vasser to tenth on the afternoon practice report and tenth on the overall combined report.
"The #40 Visteon/Patrick Racing Toyota Reynard was a reasonably good car today," Vasser said. "We still have a lot of work to do on the handling, but we have some ideas on what direction to go. I am very confident that we will have a good car for qualifying tomorrow."
Vasser, who is competing at Portland International Raceway for the tenth time, is trying to shake the misfortune that has dogged him the last two races. The 35-year-old native of California finished in the top-six in the first four races of the season (Mexico - sixth; Long Beach - fifth; Nazareth - fourth; Japan - fifth).
However, in the next two events he was knocked from the competition at Milwaukee while running in third place and then at Detroit he was running in sixth place, but lost control of his car during a yellow flag and hit the wall. Vasser is tied for sixth place in the point standings with 40 points. He is 34 points out of first place.
In nine previous starts at PIR Vasser has qualified in the top-10 six times with a high of second in 1995. He has finished in the top-10 twice and in the points four times with a best showing of second also in 1995.
The Las Vegas, Nevada resident has a rather impressive overall record on the CART road/street circuits. In 92 CART career road/street starts he has placed in the points 55 times with 48 top-10 finishes including 24 top-five showings, 14 podium appearances and four victories. Vasser has finished 89 of his last 109 races placing in the points 85 times (dating to Milwaukee in 1995).
Moreno made even greater gains than his teammate during the afternoon practice. He opened the session fast and continued to get faster turning a quick lap of 59.068 seconds (120.004 mph). The fast time initially put him in third place on the speed charts where he remained for much of the session. Unfortunately, about two thirds of the way through the practice, the team realized that they had a gear ratio problem and rather than risk the gearbox decided to switch to the backup car. They ran the backup for the last portion of the practice as they worked to get it up to the same competitive level as the primary car. This they accomplished turning a fast lap of 59.184 seconds (119.769 mph) in the backup, which was the 13th fastest time of the session and the 13th fastest time on the combined practice report. However, as a result of working with the backup they did not get a stint on their second set of new tires and therefore were unable to improved on their earlier fast time in the primary car. Moreno fast lap in the primary car placed him 11th on the afternoon practice report and gave him the 11th fastest overall time on the combined report.
"The #20 Visteon/Patrick Racing Toyota Reynard seems like a very good race and qualifying car," Moreno noted. "We were very competitive with the setup right off the truck. We didn't get a chance to run a second set of new tires because we had a gear ratio problem in the primary car. I jumped into the backup car and we decided to make that car good, so we put the primary car setup on and straightaway it was also quick. I am quit happy. I think we have a very competitive car for qualifying and the race," Moreno said.
Moreno, who is coming off a season best third place finish in Detroit, is looking for anther strong performance here in Portland as he attempts to get back into the middle of the 2001 FedEx Championship Series title race. Last year the native of Brazil finished second at Portland International Raceway and moved into first place in the championship standings for the first time in his CART career. Moreno, who is currently 13th in the championship race with 20 points, has finished in the points in four of his last five races and four of the six races this season (Long Beach - 11th; Nazareth - 12th; Japan - 10th; Detroit - third).
Moreno will be racing for the fifth time at Portland. In four previous starts he best qualifying position is third, last year. He has finished in the top-10 twice, placing seventh in 1999 to go with the second place showing last year.
The Weston, Florida resident has finished in the points in 13 of his last 22 road/street course starts with ten top-10 placements, six top five showings and four podiums including his first career victory (and pole) last year at Cleveland. He has finished in the top-10 in 20 of his last 39 starts and in the points 26 times
There will be another practice session tomorrow morning from 10:00-11:15 AM. Qualifying will be split into two groups based upon the FedEx Championship Series point's standings. Group #1 will qualify from 1:45-2:15 PM with Group #2, running from 2:30 -3:00 PM. The Freightliner/G. I. Joe's 200 will be run on Sunday, June 24 at 1:00 PM (PT) and will be televised live on ESPN.