LEXINGTON, OHIO - SATURDAY, AUGUST 12, 2000 - Round 13 of the 2000 FedEx Championship Series - Patrick Racing's Adrian Fernandez will line-up 12th and Roberto Moreno 15th on the starting grid for tomorrow's Miller Lite 200 at the Mid-Ohio Sports...
LEXINGTON, OHIO - SATURDAY, AUGUST 12, 2000 - Round 13 of the 2000 FedEx Championship Series - Patrick Racing's Adrian Fernandez will line-up 12th and Roberto Moreno 15th on the starting grid for tomorrow's Miller Lite 200 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio.
Fernandez, driving the #40 Tecate/Quaker State/Patrick Racing Ford-Cosworth, began the day sixth on the provisional grid with a time of 66.472 seconds (122.289 mph). In morning practice he ran a quick lap of 66.819 seconds (121.654 mph), which placed him tenth on the individual and combined practice reports. Although four places lower than in provisional qualifying his time was considerably faster than the previous day's morning practice speed. Thus the Tecate/Quaker State/Patrick Racing team held high hopes of a starting position in the first two rows going into final qualifying. In final qualifying, Fernandez, went out with the second, or "fast" group. He was working the final two laps of his first stint (about 10 minutes into the 30-minute session), and running very competitive times, when he spun in turn eight coming to a halt in the middle of a gravel trap. CART officials decided to simply move the Tecate/Quaker State/Patrick Racing Ford-Cosworth out of harms way instead of returning it to the pits because of the time constraints inherent in a 30-minute qualifying session. Despite missing most of the session only six drivers were able to surpass Fernandez' quick lap from provisional qualifying. He will start on the outside of row six.
"I just spun the Tecate/Quaker State/Patrick Racing Ford-Cosworth into the gravel trap. Then the CART officials decided not to tow it back to the pit lane. I am not sure why they didn't tow it back, but that is what they decided," said Fernandez. Fernandez, who has now qualified in the top-10 in six of 13 races and four of six road/street circuits, however, remained optimistic about his chances in tomorrow's race.
"The Tecate/Quaker State/Patrick Racing Ford-Cosworth has been good all weekend. It has been consistent and it has been quick. Now it is just a matter of having a good warm-up tomorrow then driving a smart race with a good strategy and hopefully passing some cars in the pits," Fernandez said.
Fernandez will be trying to continue a streak that has seen him score points in nine of his last ten races (including Nazareth) and move into sixth place in the FedEx Championship Series standings with 79 points. The 35-year-old Mexican, who has finished nine of 12 races this year, each time in the points with eight top-10 showings including four top five finishes with a win in Rio, is just three points out of fourth and 10 out of third. Fernandez will also be trying to add to his outstanding results at Mid-Ohio where he has finished in the top six four times (in five previous races) including a victory in 1998.
Moreno, in the #20 Visteon/Patrick Racing Ford-Cosworth, had a significantly better effort in today's final qualifying after a trouble plagued provisional qualifying session yesterday. Sitting 22nd on the provisional grid with a time of 68.766 seconds (118.328 mph), following a spin that damaged his engine, Moreno was eager to get back on the track. During today's morning practice session he quickly showed that the Visteon/Patrick Racing team had a handle on the set-up that appeared missing yesterday by running a quick lap of 67.012 seconds (121.304 mph). The time was 1.7 seconds faster than his qualifying time and the 12th fastest of both the session and the two combined morning practices. In final qualifying, running with the first, or "slow" group he was able to keep much of his momentum going turning a fast lap of 66.782 seconds (121.721 mph) which places him on the inside of row eight.
"The Visteon/Patrick Racing team discovered some mechanical problems with my primary car just moments before qualifying that forced me to switch to the back up car. That was a bit of a handicap for us, but we kept our chins up and made the best of it. We are not starting where we would like, and we still have to fix the mechanical problems, but we know we have a good racecar and I am confident we will have the mechanical problems sorted out for the race."
Moreno, who has now qualified in the top-10 in eight of 13 races and four of six road/street circuits with one pole (a CART career first at Cleveland), will be trying to retake the top stop in the championship standings that he held for almost a month before dropping to second place two races ago. The 41-year-old Brazilian trails Micahel Andretti by 22-points, 120-98. Moreno has finished eight of 12 races this year, each time in the top-10 with four podium showings including his first career CART victory. In four previous races at Mid-Ohio his best his best finish is tenth (1986).
"Because of where I am starting I am going to have to, again, count on the Visteon/Patrick Racing crew to do another outstanding job in the pits and the race strategy and calls of Mr. Patrick and Jim McGee to move up during the race," said Moreno.
"Tomorrow is a very important race for the Visteon/Patrick Racing team. We are closing in on the three quarters mark of the season and every point counts. We are in the hunt for the championship and we will fight hard to stay at the top of the point standings. I am confident that the Visteon/Patrick Racing team will take me to the podium a few more times this year," Moreno noted.
This is just the fourth time this season that Patrick Racing has failed to qualify at least one car in the top-10. It is the third consecutive race that both Fernandez and Moreno have each failed to qualify in the top-10.
The Miller Lite 200 will be run on Sunday, August 13 at 2:00 p.m. (ET) and will be televised tape delayed on ABC at 4:00 p.m. (ET)