CHAMPCAR/CART: Patrick Racing Portland qualifying

PORTLAND, OREGON - SATURDAY, JUNE 23, 2001 -- Round ...

PORTLAND, OREGON - SATURDAY, JUNE 23, 2001 -- Round #8 of the 2001 FedEx Championship Series - Visteon/Patrick Racing driver Roberto Moreno qualified eighth while teammate Jimmy Vasser will lineup ninth for tomorrow's Freightliner/G. I. Joe's 200 at Portland International Raceway in Portland, Oregon.

This is the third time this year, and the second consecutive race, that both Visteon/Patrick Racing entries have qualified in the top-10. They achieved the feat in the first race of the season, at Mexico, when Vasser qualified ninth and Moreno tenth, and again last week at Detroit when Vasser started fifth and Moreno seventh.

The day began with both Visteon/Patrick Racing drivers making substantial gains in morning practice. Moreno in the #20 Visteon/Patrick Racing Toyota Reynard started the day 11th on the combined practice report following Friday's twin sessions with a time of 59.068 seconds (120.004 mph). During Saturday morning practice he spent all but the final minutes of the session in the top-five, and a substantial portion at the top of the speed charts with a time of 58.388 seconds (121.402 mph). The time put him seventh on the morning speed charts.

In qualifying Moreno ran with the first or "slow" group based on his 13th place standing in the 2001 FedEx Championship Series point's race. He quickly took over the top spot on the speed chart, but dropped to second about half way through the 30-minute session. Moreno went out on his final set of new tires with about 12 minutes remaining in the session and on his very last lap clicked off his fastest time of the weekend turning a lap of 58.197 seconds (121.800 mph). It was still not good enough to take over the top spot in his session, but did put him on the outside of Row #4.

"I am very happy with the #20 Visteon/Patrick Racing Toyota Reynard," Moreno said. "The car has been getting better and better every time out. We still need to do some more work to get more speed out of the car. Overall I think we have a good race car and that is the most important thing."

Moreno, who earned his second highest qualifying position of the season and second highest starting spot at Portland International Raceway (third last year), has now qualified in the top-10 in two consecutive races (seventh at Detroit). This is his third top-10 starting position in eight attempts this season (including Texas) and the second time, in five attempts, he has qualified in the top-10 at PIR. In his previous four starts at PIR Moreno has finished in the top-10 twice, placing seventh in 1999 to go with the second place showing last year.

The native of Brazil, who is coming off a season best third place finish in Detroit, is looking to improve on last year's performance at PIR as he attempts to get back into the middle of the 2001 FedEx Championship Series title race. 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).

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

Vasser, behind the wheel of the #40 Visteon/Patrick Racing Toyota Reynard, also made tremendous gains during Saturday morning's practice. He began the day tenth on the combined practice report with a fast lap of 58.931 seconds (120.283 mph). His fast time this morning was 58.632 seconds (120.896 mph) putting 12th on the morning practice report.

In qualifying, Vasser went out with the second or "fast group" because he is in the upper half of the points (tied for sixth in the championship race). Like his teammate, he quickly moved into the top three on the speed charts turning a quick lap of 58.221 seconds (121.750 mph) while still on his first set of tires. Unfortunately, that was as fast as he would go as a red flag stole some of his qualifying time than on fast run on the second set of new tires he ran into traffic negating the lap. Vasser will lineup on the inside of Row #5.

"The #40 Visteon/Patrick Racing Toyota Reynard was a reasonably good qualifying car," Vasser said. "I am a little disappointed. I thought we would do better, but things just didn't work out for us. I think we have a good race car, so we will just have to see what happens tomorrow. It is important for the Visteon/Patrick Racing team to score some big points tomorrow and stay in the fight for the championship."

Vasser will be starting in the top-10 for the fifth time this season and has qualified the top-10 for the third consecutive race (gridded fifth at Milwaukee due to rain, qualified fifth at Detroit). He has qualified in the top-10 seven times in ten attempts at PIR with a best starting position of second in 1995. In nine previous races at PIR Vasser has finished in the top-10 at Portland twice and in the points four times with a best showing of second also in 1995.

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 92 CART career road/street starts, the Las Vegas resident 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).

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.

-Patrick Racing

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Jimmy Vasser