ELKHART LAKE, WISCONSIN - FRIDAY, AUGUST 17, 2001 -- Round ...
ELKHART LAKE, WISCONSIN - FRIDAY, AUGUST 17, 2001 -- Round #14 of the 2001 FedEx Championship Series - Visteon/Patrick Racing had an outstanding first day of practice today in preparation for the Motorola 220 at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.
Jimmy Vasser, driving the #40 Visteon/Patrick Racing Toyota Reynard was second and teammate Roberto Moreno, behind the wheel of the #20 Visteon/Patrick Racing Toyota Reynard, was fifth on the combined speed charts following today's twin practice sessions. It was by far the best first day of practice for the Visteon/Patrick Racing team in the first 14 events of the 2001 FedEx Championship Series season.
Vasser for the second weekend in a row came off the transporter fast. In the one hour and 45 minute morning practice session he was consistently in the top-10 throughout the session as the #40 Visteon/Patrick Racing crew made adjustments and fine-tuned the car. During his last stint he ran his fastest time of the practice turning a quick lap of 102.118 seconds (142.705 mph), which was good for second on the morning practice report. In the afternoon session, which ran for 90 minutes, he continued to run strong. Vasser was in the top-three for much of the session falling back only in the latter part of the practice when he was forced to sit out eight minutes for causing a red flag. However, with six minutes remaining in the afternoon session, the setup in place and new tires on the car, Vasser went back on track and turned his fastest lap of the day clocking a time of 101.284 seconds (143.881 mph). The time was the second fastest of the afternoon session and put him second on the combined practice report.
"All the credit goes to the Visteon/Patrick Racing engineering staff," Vasser said. "They have provided Roberto (Moreno) and I with some good race cars. Both of us have been solidly in the top-10 all day. The engineering staff has done a tremendous job and the cars are getting progressively better. It is good to see that both Roberto and I have a shot at the front row in qualifying," Vasser concluded.
Vasser, who spend the first 11 races of the 2001 season in the top-10 in the championship standings reaching as high a third, is currently 13th in the championship race with 50 points. The native of California started the season impressively finishing in the top-six in the first four races, but since then he has been the victim of bad luck. Despite being extremely competitive in every race he has finished in the points just once in his last eight events. Vasser has placed in the top- five four times and in the top-six in five of 12 races this year. He has finished in the top-six in three of seven road/street races.
The resident of Las Vegas, Nevada is making his eighth appearance at Road America. In seven previous races he has qualified in the top-10 twice with a best starting position of sixth in 1999. He has finished in the top-10 five times, including five of the last six years, with two top-five performances and one podium finish, a third in 1995.
Vasser has started 159 CART races. He has 91 top-10 finishes including 26 podium showings. Vasser has finished 92 of his last 115 races placing in the points 86 times (dating to Milwaukee `95). In 96 CART career road/street races, he has finished in the points 56 times with 49 top-10 finishes, 25 top-five showings, 14 podium appearances and four wins.
Moreno had to overcome a problem in morning practice, which brought out a full course yellow and cost him eight minutes of time for causing the stoppage. The #20 Visteon/Patrick Racing team, however, quickly overcame the handicap and after making some adjustments had the car running in the top-10. Moreno posted a fast time of 102.618 seconds (142.010 mph) putting him eighth on the morning practice report. In afternoon practice the team continued to successfully work with the setup as and they began to climb the speed charts. With just minutes remaining in the afternoon session, Moreno was sitting in second place with a fast lap of 101.444 seconds (143.654 mph). However, with the practice coming to a close the team decided not to go with a new set of tires because they didn't have enough time to get them up to temperature for an optimum run. In the closing moments three cars slipped past him putting the #20 Visteon/Patrick Racing Toyota Reynard fifth on the afternoon speed charts and fifth on the combined practice report.
"The Visteon/Patrick Racing team come to Road America with a good car and the engineers did a good job making it better," Moreno said. "I used one set of tires for the last half of the morning practice session and started the afternoon session with the same tires. We put a new set of tires on part way through this afternoon's session and we went quicker running a time that was good enough for fifth place. We were going to put another new set of tires on late in the session, like Jimmy (Vasser) did, but we didn't have enough time to do it properly. We wanted to try out a change we had made to the car before we put on the new tires and that left us a short on time. Overall, I am very happy with today's practice sessions. We have not only a good race car, but a good car for qualifying," Moreno concluded.
Moreno, who is 12th in the championship standings with 52 points, has been steadily inching his way back into the top-10 in the championship race. The talented native of Brazil has been one of the most consistent drivers this season. He has completed 11 of the 12 races, the most of any driver, and is second in laps and miles completed. Moreno has placed in the points in nine of the 12 races this year including six of the last seven. He has five top-10 finishes with two podium appearances. Moreno has finished in the points in six of seven road/street events with four top-10 showings including both his podiums.
The Weston, Florida resident will be competing at Road America for the sixth time. In five previous starts he has qualified in the top-10 twice with a best starting position of third in 1985 and 1986. His best finish is fourth, last year.
Moreno finished in the top-10 in 23 of his last 45 starts and in the points 31 times. He has finished in the points in 17 of his last 26 road/street course races with 13 top-10 placements, seven top-five showings and five podiums including one victory.
The Visteon/Patrick Racing team has had tremendous success on road/street courses this year. After seven road/street course races in 2001, a total of 14 starts, the team has nine points paying finishes with seven top-10 showings and two podiums. Additionally, they traditionally have had good results at Road America. In 26 previous starts at Road America Patrick Racing has qualified in the top-10 a total of 16 times with nine top-five starts. Their highest qualifying position is fourth (1982, 1986, 1988, 1998). They have 15 top-10 finishes with nine top-five placements and two wins (Emerson Fittipaldi - 1986 and 1988).
There will be another practice session tomorrow morning from 10:00 - 11:15 AM. Qualifying will be run in two groups. The first group, including Moreno, will go out from 1:45 - 2:15 PM. The second group, including Vasser, will take to the track from 2:30 - 3:00 PM. The Motorola 220 will be run on Sunday, August 19 at 12:00 PM (ET) and will be televised live on ESPN.