ELKHART LAKE, WISCONSIN - SUNDAY, AUGUST 19, 2001 -- Round ...
ELKHART LAKE, WISCONSIN - SUNDAY, AUGUST 19, 2001 -- Round #14 of the 2001 FedEx Championship Series - In what can only be described as one of the most unusual races in recent memory Visteon/Patrick Racing driver Roberto Moreno finished 11th, while teammate Jimmy Vasser experienced a mechanical problem and placed 21st today at the Motorola 220 at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.
The race began in wet conditions, which precipitated several yellow flags. As the track began to dry several teams decided to switch from rain tires to dry, but the decision proved to be premature as a couple of drivers crashed heavily on lap 10. A red flag was dropped on lap 14 which lasted for 47 minutes and 52 seconds. When action resumed the race proceeded in good order for the next 10 laps until Memo Gidley had a horrendous crash bringing out the final yellow flag of the race. Any doubt that this would be a timed race, two hour limit instead of the schedule 55 laps, was now erased and action resumed with pit stop and fuel strategy at a premium.
Moreno in the #20 Visteon/Patrick Racing Toyota Reynard, who started 14th, had moved into 11th place by lap 10. When the yellow flag came the #20 Visteon/Patrick Racing team decided to pit for dry tires. Moreno rejoined the contest in 13th place, but because of the dry tires was in a position to make up valuable ground. The switch, however, was negated when CART officials decided to throw the red flag halting action and allowing teams that had failed to pit for dry ties to make the change in a situation where they would not lose any ground. When the race was restarted, Moreno once again began moving through the field working his way into seventh place. Some of the progress was due to cars gambling that they could pit early, during Gidley's yellow, and still make it the end of the race. The Visteon/Patrick Racing team, along with most of the race leaders, remained out. Moreno pitted for the final time on lap 35. He reentered in 15th place and as the race played out the move proved to be the right one as several of the teams that pitted early were forced to come in for an additional splash of fuel. However, two drivers did not have to pit and a couple were able to get in and out before the field could catch up. In the end Moreno finished 11th, however the points he earned were enough to propel him into the top-10 in the 2001 FedEx Championship Series standings/
"The #20 Visteon/Patrick Racing Toyota Reynard ran well today and the team did a good job," Moreno said. "It was a bit of, how do I put it, a different race than what we are used too. With the way this race went, the wet conditions at the start, all the yellows and the red flag, plus it is so difficult to pass, it was good to come out of here with some points and get back into the top-10 in the championship standings. The Visteon/Patrick Racing team needs to keep finishing races and keep improving. If we do that the rest of the season we will end up okay," Moreno concluded.
The native of Brazil has fought his way back into the top-10 in the championship race for the first time since July 1 in Cleveland. He has 54 points. Moreno has placed in the points in 10 of the 13 races this season and in seven of the last eight. He has finished 12 of the 13 events this season, the most of any driver. Moreno has five top-10 finishes with two podium appearances. He has finished in the points in seven of eight road/street events with four top-10 showings including both his podiums.
The Weston, Florida resident has finished in the top-10 in 23 of his last 46 starts and in the points 32 times. He has finished in the points in 20 of his last 31 road/street course races with 15 top-10 placements, eight top-five showings and five podiums including one victory.
Vasser, behind the wheel of the #40 Visteon/Patrick Racing Toyota Reynard, started well, but once again was done in by bad luck. Starting 11th he had moved into seventh place by lap 10. Employing the same strategy as his teammate, Vasser pitting on lap 11 for dry tires. He came out in 11th place, but the Visteon/Patrick Racing strategy was, as noted before, rendered superfluous by CART's decision to throw the red flag. After the race was restarted Vasser was still running in 11th place when a mechanical problem caused him to loose fuel pressure ending his day.
"It was a weird race and a disappointing day for the #40 Visteon/Patrick Racing team," Vasser said. "The whole situation at the start of the race with the wet conditions, all the yellows and the red flag made things very complicated. The #40 Visteon/Patrick Racing Toyota Reynard was very competitive, especially when we went to the dry setup for the restart. Unfortunately, we had a mechanical problem, which put an end to our day. It's a shame. We continue to be very competitive only to run into bad luck. The Visteon/Patrick Racing team just has to keep our heads up and win some of the races left in the season," Vasser noted.
Vasser, who remained in 13th place in the championship race with 50 points, has been plagued by misfortune since starting the season with four consecutive top-six finishes. Despite being extremely competitive in every event since then, he has finished in the points just once in his last nine races The native of California has placed in the top- five four times and in the top-six in five of 13 races this year. He has finished in the top-six in three of eight road/street races.
Vasser has now started 160 CART races. He has 91 top-10 finishes including 26 podium showings. The Las Vegas, Nevada resident has finished 92 of his last 116 races placing in the points 86 times (dating to Milwaukee `95). In 97 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.
The Visteon/Patrick Racing team continues to have a solid record on road/street circuits. After eight road/street course races in 2001, a total of 16 starts, the team has ten points paying finishes with seven top-10 showings and two podiums.
Next up for Visteon/Patrick Racing is the Molson Indy Vancouver on the streets of Vancouver, Canada, August 31 through September 2.