JACKSON, MI - - November 4, 2000 - - Patrick Racing concluded one of its most successful seasons in its 28-year history as Adrian Fernandez finished second and Roberto Moreno third in the 2000 FedEx Championship Series standings. Strong ...
JACKSON, MI - - November 4, 2000 - - Patrick Racing concluded one of its most successful seasons in its 28-year history as Adrian Fernandez finished second and Roberto Moreno third in the 2000 FedEx Championship Series standings.
Strong performances in the season ending Marlboro 500 at California Speedway in Fontana, California enabled both drivers to finish in the top three in the most competitive championship race in the history of CART. Moreno drove an outstanding race in Fontana finishing second which vaulted him from fifth to third in the final standings, while Fernandez, who suffered an understeering (push) problem throughout the race, placed fifth thus securing the runner-up position.
By placing in the top three in the championship Fernandez and Moreno became the first Patrick Racing teammates to do so in over two decades. Their performance is the second best in team history by two Patrick drivers. Gordon Johncock and Wally Dallenbach, finished first and third respectively, in 1976 (Emerson Fittipaldi's title in 1989 was a one-car effort).
Fernandez, who is leaving Patrick Racing to form his own team, had the best season of his eight-year CART career. In fact, he has enjoyed his three best seasons since joining Patrick Racing in 1998. In addition to this year's second place finish, Fernandez, who pilots the #40 Tecate/Quaker State/Patrick Racing Ford-Cosworth, placed fourth in the championship standings in 1998 and sixth in 1999 (despite sitting out four races due to injury). He has earned six of his seven career CART victories with Patrick Racing winning two races each season. The 35-year-old Mexican entered the final weekend of the 2000 season in second place in the championship standings just five points out of first. However, his hopes of snatching the FedEx crown were dashed when Gil de Ferran captured the pole and then finished third in the race. Fernandez finished the season with a streak of 13 consecutive points paying finishes including 11 top-10 showings, six top five performances and four podiums. The Paradise Valley, Arizona resident finished 17 of the 20 races (the most of any driver) each time in the points (scored points in 17 of his last 18 starts). He had 15 top-10 showings (first) including eight top-five finishes (tied for first) with five podium appearances (tied for third) and two wins (tied for fourth). His victories in Rio and Australia this year make him the first driver to win in all five countries and on all four continents that the CART competes. Fernandez finished the season first in miles (4357.172) and laps (2601) completed, and tenth in laps led (90).
"I am very happy for the Tecate/Quaker State/Patrick Racing team. This has been a tremendous year," Fernandez said. "It has been the best season of my career and Patrick Racing has provided me with the best opportunity of my career. Unfortunately, we didn't have the car at the Marlboro 500 to give Gil (de Ferran) a run for his money. The Penske team has been very strong all year and I want to congratulate them. The Tecate/Quaker State/Patrick Racing team did a great job all year and we were in a position going into the last race to win the championship, but basically the car wasn't there.
"I was trying, but I didn't have the speed or the balance on the Tecate/Quaker State/Patrick Racing Ford-Cosworth. The car was pushing a lot. We tried to make some adjustments, but something was weird with the car. A couple of times I got very close to the wall. At the end it was a matter of being patient and finishing the race in the best position we could," Fernandez concluded.
Moreno, who entered the weekend tied for fifth in the championship standings and with a mathematical, albeit slim, chance to take the FedEx title, saw his championship hopes die when he could not put his #20 Visteon/Patrick Racing Ford-Cosworth on the pole. The 41-year-old Brazilian, however, refused to give in to disappointment, a trademark throughout his career, and proceeded to drive one of the best races of his seven-year CART career. The second place showing at Fontana ties his career best oval finish, achieved earlier this year at Miami, and is his best finish in a 500-mile race surpassing a third place showing at Michigan in 1996. The talented and personable Moreno, who was competing in just his third full season, had a career year in his first season with Patrick Racing. His third place finish in the championship standings is easily the highest of his CART career. Additionally, he led the CART standings for the first time and captured his first CART victory and pole (both at Cleveland). Moreno was among the point's leaders all season dropping out of the top five in the standings only once, after Monterey, and remaining in the top three for most of the season. The Weston, Florida resident finished 14 of 20 races (tied for fourth), each time in the points with 12 top-10 showings (tied for fourth) including eight top five finishes (tied for first) and six podium appearances (tied for second) with one victory (tied for seventh). Moreno finished second in miles (4259.301) and laps (2576) completed and sixth in laps led (146).
"This season has just been fantastic," said Moreno. "I can't say enough about the Visteon/Patrick Racing team and the job they did to achieve the success we have this year. I had a couple of handicaps to overcome during this season. There were some places that I'd never seen like Houston and Fontana, and I hadn't been to Australia since 1996. A lot of times the car wasn't good in qualifying, but we never gave up and the team did a great job.
"As far as the Marlboro 500 was concerned, the Visteon/Patrick Racing team did what it has done all year. We had a good race car, great pit stops and an outstanding race strategy. We were right were we wanted to be at the end. I was setting myself up to pass Christian, but the yellow came out. I didn't have a car that was faster than his, but if I got into his slipstream I was ready for it, believe me. I must say, I was very lucky to stay out of trouble," Moreno said.
Patrick Racing was the only team with both drivers in the top six in the championship standings let alone the top three. Combining the statistics of both Fernandez and Moreno, Patrick Racing was first in points (305), races finished (31 of 40), top-10 (27) and top five (16) finishes, and tied for first in podiums (11). They are first in laps (5177) and miles (8616.473) completed, tied for third in wins (3), fourth in laps led (236) and tied for fifth in poles (1).
The Patrick Racing crews placed fourth and fifth in the Craftsman Pit Crew Challenge finals. The Visteon/Patrick Racing crew was seeded third and finished fourth. The Tecate/Quaker State/Patrick Racing crew was first and finished fifth.
Fernandez captured the Budweiser Hard Charger Award. He started 14th in Fontana and finished fifth giving him enough points to overtake Luis Garcia Jr.
Starting with Fontana in 1997, Fernandez has finished sixth or better in 33 of 56 events placing in the top-10 at 41 races and in the points 44 times. Moreno has finished in the top-10 in 18 of his last 33 CART starts and in the points 22 times.
Patrick Racing General Manager Jim McGee is tops on the all-time wins list for a General-Team Manager/Chief Mechanic with 89. McGee has nine national championships and is the only Manager/Chief Mechanic to win a championship in four decades (60's - 90's). He has at least one victory in each of his last five decades (his 20's, 30's, 40's, 50's and 60's) and a least one victory in each of the last five decades (60's - 00).
Patrick Racing, in its 28th year of competition, is one of the most successful teams in the history of Champ Car racing with 44 victories, three Indianapolis 500 wins and two national championships (1976 - Gordon Johncock and 1989 - Emerson Fittipaldi). U. E. "Pat" Patrick is the co-founder of CART and the "father" of the Dayton Indy Lights Series.