CHAMPCAR/CART: Patrick Racing Texas preview

Patrick Racing Seeks First Victory Of 2001 Fedex Championship Series Season At Firestone Firehawk 600 JACKSON, MI - - APRIL 24, 2001 - - Add up the facts and the conclusion is obvious...Patrick Racing is primed to capture its first victory of...

Patrick Racing Seeks First Victory Of 2001 Fedex Championship Series Season At Firestone Firehawk 600

JACKSON, MI - - APRIL 24, 2001 - - Add up the facts and the conclusion is obvious...Patrick Racing is primed to capture its first victory of the 2001 FedEx Championship Series season at the inaugural Firestone Firehawk 600 presented by Pioneer, April 27-29, on the Texas Motor Speedway oval in Ft. Worth, Texas.

The facts begin with solid performances in the first two events of the season, both street circuits, as drivers Roberto Moreno and Jimmy Vasser combined for three points paying finishes. Add to the strong start Patrick Racing's history of success on ovals, particularly since its return to CART competition in 1995. There have been 46 ovals races since 1995. Patrick Racing cars have started 79 times. They have 48 top-10 finishes, 28 top-five showings, five victories (Scott Pruett - Michigan - '95; Adrian Fernandez - Japan - '98; Fernandez - Japan - '99; Fernandez - Fontana - '99; and Fernandez - Rio - '00) and four poles (Raul Boesel - St. Louis - '97; Pruett - Michigan - '97; Fernandez - Michigan - '98; and Pruett - Fontana - '98). Additionally, Moreno, had the two best oval performances, and best 500-mile oval finish, of his career last year, his first with Patrick Racing, placing second at Homestead and Fontana. Finally, the addition of Vasser, who has five oval victories, most recently at Fontana in 1998, in nine plus season of CART competition, should add to the team's history of success on ovals. Taken together the facts bode well for Patrick Racing's fortunes this weekend.

Commenting on this weekend's race, Vasser said, "Patrick Racing had a good test at Texas Motor Speedway back in February so we have a very good baseline and know what direction we want to go. I think we are a little ahead of the game because of the test. The banking at Texas Motor Speedway is high so it is fairly easy to go flat out, but there are some bumps and that can cause some problems."

Moreno, who has yet to turn a wheel on the 1.5-mile Texas oval, said, "I have never even seen Texas Motor Speedway so it is one of those places where everything will be new for the Visteon/Patrick Racing team. Jimmy (teammate Jimmy Vasser) tested there earlier this year and got a lot of good data. Hopefully, that will help me with the set-up.

This will be the longest race we have run so far this year and the first oval race, so it will be good test for the Visteon/Patrick Racing team," Moreno continued. "Strategy, as on most ovals, will be very important, so I am fortunate to have Mr. Patrick and Jim McGee calling my race. Pit stops will also be very important. Based on our preseason testing the Toyota Reynard package should be very reliable and that is a big plus. It is not a 500-mile race, but it is a longer race then most of the one's we run. It will give us a good idea of where we are as far as the oval races," concluded Moreno.

Vasser, who is behind the wheel of the #40 Patrick Racing Toyota Reynard has been particularly strong in his first two outings with the team and is eager to step it up a notch. He has placed in the top six in both starts, finishing sixth at the Tecate Telmex Monterrey Grand Prix in Mexico and fifth at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. Vasser is currently fifth in the FedEx Championship standings with 18 points. The 35-year-old native of California is working on a streak that seen him finish 87 of his last 105 starts placing in the points 83 times (dating to Milwaukee in 1995). In 149 starts, he has 88 top-10 finishes including 26 podium showings, nine victories and seven poles.

"Overall, Patrick Racing has had a good start to the 2001 FedEx Championship Series season," Vasser said. "We have finished in the top six in both races and are fifth in the points. But, the Patrick Racing team is not satisfied. We are here to win races and I know we can do it," concluded Vasser.

Moreno, who is behind the wheel of the #20 Visteon/Patrick Racing Toyota Reynard, has finished in the points once in the first two races, an 11th place showing at Long Beach. He was running a strong race in the season opener in Mexico when he made contact in Turn 12 putting an end to his day. The 42-year-old native of Brazil is looking for a strong performance in Texas as he tries to duplicate the fast start that propelled him to a career high third in the championship standings last year. Moreno has finished in the top-10 in 18 of his last 35 starts and in the points 23 times.

"The Visteon/Patrick Racing team had a bit of a slow start to the season," Moreno noted. "It is a different year than last year when we started fast. We just have to keep working hard and pay attention to detail. I am very confident. With Patrick Racing's long history of success, and the support of our manufacturers and sponsors, like Visteon, we should start producing some better results beginning with the Firestone Firehawk 600."

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Jimmy Vasser , Raul Boesel , Roberto Moreno , Scott Pruett