Visteon/Patrick Racing's Roberto Moreno Finishes Second At Freightliner/G. I. Joe's 200 Vasser Finishes 16th PORTLAND, OREGON - SUNDAY, JUNE 24, 2001 -- Round ...
Visteon/Patrick Racing's Roberto Moreno Finishes Second At Freightliner/G. I. Joe's 200
Vasser Finishes 16th
PORTLAND, OREGON - SUNDAY, JUNE 24, 2001 -- Round #8 of the 2001 FedEx Championship Series -Visteon/Patrick Racing's Roberto Moreno finished second while teammate Jimmy Vasser placed 16th at today's Freightliner/G. I. Joe's 200 at Portland International Raceway in Portland Oregon.
It was an overcast rainy day from the start so teams used the morning warm-up session to scrub rain ties and adjust setups for what would prove to be a wet and wild race.
Moreno in the #20 Visteon/Patrick Racing Toyota Reynard started the race eighth, his second consecutive top-10 start and third of the season. He got a tremendous jump on the opening lap moving into to fifth place. The tone of the race was immediately set as the first of nine yellow flags came out on the first lap. He spent all but one of the next 23 laps in fifth, dropping to sixth place once, mostly because there were five yellow flags during the first 20 laps as drivers desperately tied to cope with the very wet slippery track. Moreno moved into fourth place on lap 24 just as the sixth yellow flag came out. The track went green again on lap 25 and remained green until lap 33. The eight-lap window at full speed was the longest of the race at that point. The seventh yellow came out while the cars were working lap 33 and the Visteon/Patrick Racing team decided to pit for the first time, and what would prove to be the only time, on lap 34. Coming in fourth the #20 Visteon/Patrick Racing crew did an outstanding job and when the dust had cleared Moreno was in second place. From the beginning of the race it appeared that this would be a timed race (two hour maximum on road/street circuits) because of all the yellow flags. By the time of the first pit stop it was obvious. Playing the calculating came the Visteon/Patrick Racing team had figured that the race would go approximately 77 laps (76 in reality). By pitting on lap 34, given the mileage that Moreno was getting he was just going to make it to the end of the race. Moreno challenged race leader Max Papis a couple of times, but with the slippery conditions and fuel conservation never was able to make a serious run.
"The Visteon/Patrick Racing team did an outstanding job today," Moreno said.
"This was a very difficult race because of the conditions and because of all the yellow flags. The Toyota engine ran great the entire day and the Firestone tires were outstanding. It was a great day for the Visteon/Patrick Racing team. Everything stayed in place. I only had one incident today when another car banged into me and damaged the side plate on one of my wings. That took some of the downforce off my car and made it difficult to challenge Max. Max did a great job. I was hoping he would make a mistake at the end, but he didn't so we had to settle for second place.
"The Visteon/Patrick Racing team has put together a couple of good results. We just need to keep the momentum going heading into Cleveland. I think we are out of the slow group in qualifying now so that is a big plus for. I am very exciting about going to Cleveland and defending my title there," Moreno concluded.
The second place finish at Portland is Moreno's best finish of the 2001 FedEx Championship Series season and his second consecutive podium showing (third in Detroit). He has now finished in the points in five of his last six races and five of the seven races this season (Long Beach - 11th; Nazareth - 12th; Japan - 10th; Detroit - third; Portland - second). Moreno moved into 12th place in the championship standings with 36 points. He is 40 points out of first place.
In five starts at PIR Moreno has finished in the top-10 three times and on the podium twice (the last two years). He tied his previous best finish at Portland, a second place showing last year. The native of Brazil has finished in the top-10 in 21 of his last 40 CART starts and in the points 27 times. He has finished in the points in 14 of his last 23 road/street course starts with 11 top-10 placements, seven top five showings and five podiums including his two wins.
Vasser, in the #40 Visteon/Patrick Racing Toyota Reynard, had a much more difficult day. It began when he turned his ankle on a power cable outside his motorcoach (it required two 30-minute treatments at the medical center and a taping job for the race) and went downhill from there. Vasser stated ninth, his third consecutive top-10 starting position and the fifth time he has qualified in the top-10 this year. He dropped to 10th on the opening lap, moved into to ninth for one lap, but then dropped to 12 on lap 16 where he remained until lap 24. He picked up one spot when Michel Jourdain Jr. spun off bringing out the sixth yellow of the afternoon, but quickly fell back to 14th place where he remained until the first, and only, pit stop on lap 34. The #40 Visteon/Patrick Racing crew, like their counterparts on the #20 side, did a tremendous job in the pits getting Vasser out in 12th place. He moved into 11th on lap 44 and appeared to be on his way to a top-10 finish. Unfortunately, he was having handling problems on the slick surface and starting on lap 50 he began to drop back. He was in 15th place for ten laps, 53-63, before finally settling in at 16th where he finished.
"The ankle was the least of my worries today," Vasser said. "The conditions were really bad. It was slippery and I couldn't get the #40 Visteon/Patrick Racing Toyota Reynard to handle the way I wanted. It was a tough race and of course I am disappointed that we did finish higher. The #40 Visteon/Patrick Racing team is a good team. We have a good package with the Toyota engine and Reynard chassis and we know we can be competitive and battle for the championship. We just have to regroup and start finishing races on the podium beginning in Cleveland," Vasser concluded.
The 16th place performance at Portland is the first time this season Vasser has finished a race outside the top-six. 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). 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 now tied for ninth in the championship race with 40 points.
He is 36 points out of first place.
In 93 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 90 of his last 110 races placing in the points 85 times (dating to Milwaukee in 1995).
Next up for the Visteon/Patrick Racing team is the Marconi Grand Prix of Cleveland, June 29-July 1.