Roberto Moreno, driving the ...
Roberto Moreno, driving the #20 Visteon/Patrick Racing Ford-Cosworth, ran the fastest time, 21.47 seconds, of the drivers testing at Milwaukee, while teammate Adrian Fernandez, in the #40 Tecate/Quaker State/Patrick Racing Ford-Cosworth, turned the 4th-quickest lap with a time of 21.86.
"The test went very well," Moreno said. "We ran between 180 and 200 miles and the Visteon/Patrick Racing Ford-Cosworth was good from the beginning. We made some small improvements and were competitive all day. The most important thing for me, because I am new to the Visteon/Patrick Racing team and haven't driven a full season in a while, is getting track time, learning about the car and building a relationship with the team."
Patrick Racing General Manager Jim McGee said, "Roberto and Ed [Technical Director Ed Nathman] are working very well together. They made small improvements throughout the test and at the end of the day Roberto was able to put together several fast laps. He is looking good for both the Milwaukee race and the upcoming race at Nazareth."
Patrick Racing's success at the Milwaukee test, which was run on the four-cornered Milwaukee Fairgrounds one-mile oval, is a positive sign for Saturday's Bosch Spark Plug Grand Prix. While the one-mile Nazareth tri-oval is significantly different in terms of layout, the wings and aerodynamic package are the same and the fact that the team has successfully experimented with different settings undoubtedly will be helpful.
"The testing we did at Milwaukee should help us going to Nazareth," Moreno said. "With a bit of luck, we will be able to use some of the things we learned during the Milwaukee test at Nazareth."
Moreno, who qualified 7th for the Nazareth race, is looking to build on the strong early season performances that have vaulted him into contention for the FedEx Championship Series title. He is currently tied with Jimmy Vasser for 2nd in the standings with 42 points. The outgoing Brazilian has finished in the top three in two of four races this season and in the top 10 all four times. He is coming off a 3rd-place showing at Japan, was 2nd at Miami, 9th in Long Beach and 6th in Rio. The Weston, Fla., resident is on an incredible streak that has seen him finish in the points in 12 of his last 19 starts dating back to last year.
"I have worked very hard to get myself into the position I am in today," Moreno said. "I really want to thank Mr. Patrick for giving me this opportunity and the entire Visteon/Patrick Racing team for their hard work and support. It is still very early in the season, but it was especially important to me, being new, to get off to a good start. I really didn't expect to be doing this well this early, but as long as we keep working hard we should continue to be competitive."
Fernandez, who has been the victim of bad luck through much of the early part of the season, has still managed to stay in contention for the championship. Considered one of the preseason favorites to take the 2000 FedEx Championship Series title, the talented and personable Mexican is 6th in the standings with 23 points. He failed to finish the first two races of the season due to mechanical problems but then rebounded with a win at Rio, his sixth career CART victory, and a 10th-place finish at Japan. His level of consistency since joining Patrick Racing for the 1998 season has been among the best in the FedEx Championship Series. Starting with his podium finish at Fontana in 1997, he has finished 6th or better in 24 of 40 events and has placed in the top 10 in 28 of those 40 races.
"Nazareth is going to be a very unusual race because we have so little time to prepare," said Fernandez, who qualified 9th. "I am optimistic about the race. We had a good test in Milwaukee and hopefully some of the things we learned there will apply at Nazareth, but it is a different track and we only have one hour to make changes. The keys for the Tecate/Quaker State/Patrick Racing team are to be patient, run smooth, don't have any major problems and have good pit stops. We just need some luck and we will be fine."