JACKSON, MI - - JULY 9, 2001 - - Patrick Racing driver's Jimmy Vasser and Roberto Moreno will both be looking to gain some ground and solidify their place in the top-10 in the 2001 FedEx Championship Series standings this weekend at the Molson...
JACKSON, MI - - JULY 9, 2001 - - Patrick Racing driver's Jimmy Vasser and Roberto Moreno will both be looking to gain some ground and solidify their place in the top-10 in the 2001 FedEx Championship Series standings this weekend at the Molson Indy Toronto on the temporary street circuit at Exhibition Place in Toronto, Canada.
Vasser, in the #40 Visteon/Patrick Racing Toyota Reynard, is coming off a fifth place finish at the Marconi Grand Prix of Cleveland which snapped a streak of three consecutive finishes out of the points. Starting a season low 24th, because rain changed the track conditions for the second qualifying group, Vasser improved a total of 19 positions, the most of any driver, to capture his fourth top-five finish of the season. He has placed in the top-six in five of the eight races this year (Mexico - sixth; Long Beach - fifth; Nazareth - fourth; Japan - fifth; Cleveland - fifth) and is now seventh in the championship race with 50 points. The 35-yer-old former CART Champion, who has been as high as third in the points this year, is just six points out of fourth place.
"Hopefully, the fifth place finish in Cleveland will get the #40 Visteon/Patrick Racing team started on a hot streak that will put us back at the top of the championship race. We were very consistent at the start of the season then we had a couple of unfortunate incidents. To win this championship we have to string together some podium finishes and start winning races." Vasser said.
For Vasser to achieve his goal of a podium finish, or a victory, he will have to continue a recent trend at Toronto. In nine previous starts at Exhibition Place he has finished in the points seven times placing in the top-10 the last five consecutive years including one podium showing, a third in 1998.
"I have had some success at Toronto over the years," Vasser said. "Like all the street circuits Toronto is challenging. It has a nice combination of tight radius and fast corners. There are surface changes, from asphalt to cement, and bumps, which can make things both interesting and difficult. Getting the right compromise in the setup is the key. I really enjoy the race in Toronto. The city is beautiful and the Canadian fans know their racing," Vasser noted
Moreno, piloting the #20 Visteon/Patrick Racing Toyota Reynard, is also coming off a strong performance at Cleveland. Starting a season low 25th, due to qualifying conditions, he was running in fourth place and challenging for third when Bryan Herta spun, almost taking Moreno out of the race. Moreno got restarted and finished eighth. It was his third consecutive top-10 finish and fourth of the season. The native of Brazil has finished in the points in six of his last seven starts and in six of the eight races this season (Long Beach - 11th; Nazareth - 12th; Japan - 10th; Detroit - third; Portland - second; Cleveland - eighth). Moreno, who four weeks ago was 17th in the championship standings with just six points, has once again used this stretch of races (Detroit, Portland and Cleveland) to make solid gains in the point's race (last year he took over first place for the first time in his CART career). He has moved into the top-10 in the championship race, for the first time this year, at number 10 with 41 points.
"The #20 Visteon/Patrick Racing team has accomplished what it set out to do during this portion of the season," Moreno said. "We needed to score points, finish on the podium and get into the top-10 in the standings. We had a bit of bad luck in Cleveland, but we still managed to come away with some valuable championship points. The Visteon/Patrick Racing team has done a tremendous job preparing the cars, in the pits and with our race strategy. We just have to keep working hard and keep the momentum going." Moreno concluded.
Moreno will be looking to continue his recent streak of success this weekend at Toronto as he attempts to move deeper into the top-10 in the championship race. This will be his fifth start at Toronto. In four previous races his best finish is fourth in 1999.
"Toronto is a very interesting, very challenging circuit. We missed on the set-up a bit last year, but based on what we have been doing on the street circuits this year I think we should be good in qualifying. I like racing on the street circuits. It is my favorite kind of racing. You have to contend with a variety of corners and surfaces. It makes it very challenging and fun for the driver," Moreno said.
The Visteon/Patrick Racing team moved up a team record 36 combined positions (Vasser, 19; Moreno 17) during the Cleveland race. Vasser's gain of 19 positions was the fifth biggest in Patrick Racing history. Mario Andretti holds the record (start 31, finish 2 - 31 places - `82 Michigan 500).
Patrick Racing has placed two cars in the top-10 twice this season (Japan - Vasser, fifth, Moreno, 10th and Cleveland - Vasser, fifth, Moreno, eighth). Both drivers have finished in the points four times this year (Long Beach - Vasser, fifth, Moreno, 11th;Nazareth, Vasser, fourth, Moreno, 12th; Japan - Vasser, fifth, Moreno, 10th; Cleveland - Vasser, fifth, Moreno, eighth).
Since 1999, Moreno has ten starts at Detroit, Portland, Cleveland and Toronto. He has eight top-10 finishes, five top-four showings including his CART career first victory (Cleveland 2000). Vasser has 37 career starts on the four tracks. He has finished in the points 21 times with 17 top-10 placements, seven top-five showings and four podiums.
Moreno has finished in the points in 15 of his last 24 CART road/street course starts with 12 top-10 placements, seven top five showings, five podiums including one victory. Vasser has started 94 CART road/street races placing in the points 56 times with 49 top-10 finishes including 25 top-five showings, 14 podium appearances and four victories.
Moreno has finished in the top-10 in 22 of his last 41 starts and in the points 28 times. Vasser has finished 91 of his last 111 races placing in the points 86 times (dating to Milwaukee in 1995).
Combining the stats of Moreno and Vasser, Patrick Racing is first in laps completed (1934), second in miles completed (2930.522), tied for second in finishes (13) and fifth in points (91).
After eight races Vasser's #40 Visteon/Patrick Racing Toyota Reynard crew is third in the Craftsman Pit Crew Challenge standings with 60 points. Moreno's #20 Visteon/Patrick Racing crew is fourth with 54 points.