CHAMPCAR/CART: Patrick Racing Vancouver preview

JACKSON, MI - - August 29, 2000 - - Patrick Racing will be seeking to improve on what has already been an outstanding season this weekend, September 1-3, at the Molson Indy Vancouver on the temporary street circuit in Vancouver, Canada. Patrick...

JACKSON, MI - - August 29, 2000 - - Patrick Racing will be seeking to improve on what has already been an outstanding season this weekend, September 1-3, at the Molson Indy Vancouver on the temporary street circuit in Vancouver, Canada.

Patrick Racing, which captured national championships in 1976 (Gordon Johncock) and 1989 (Emerson Fittipaldi), has had several great two-car seasons during its 28-year history. In the mid-seventies and early eighties the team consistently placed two cars in the top-10 in the championship standings. As recently as 1998, they had both drivers finish in the top six in the championship race with Adrian Fernandez placing fourth and Scott Pruett sixth. However, only the 1976 season, when Johncock finished first and Wally Dallenbach placed third, can compare with the season Patrick Racing is having this year. After 14 of the 20 races in the 2000 FedEx Championship Series season, Patrick Racing is the only team to have two drivers in the top seven, let alone the top four, in the championship standings. Combining the statistics of both Fernandez and Roberto Moreno, Patrick Racing has finished more races than any other team (21 of 28). They are first in points (215), laps (3599 of 4024) and miles (5812.195 of 6619.502) completed. They are tied for second in wins (2), third in laps led (211) and tied for fourth in poles (1). In addition, the Patrick Racing crews are first and second in the Craftsman Pit Crew Challenge. Fernandez' Tecate/Quaker State/Patrick Racing crew is first with 112 points. They have finished first in three of the last five races and took the top spot in the last two. Moreno's Visteon/Patrick Racing crew, which led the standings for much of the season, is currently second with 111 points.

Moreno, who is currently second in the championship standings with 112 points, is having a career year. Now in his seventh CART campaign, but competing for a full season for just the third time, Moreno has been in the top four in the championship standings for the entire season and has not been lower than third since the third race. The 41-year-old Brazilian, who trails series leader Michael Andretti by 13 points, led the point's race for the first time in his CART career for almost a month and notched his first CART career victory and pole, both at Cleveland. Driving his first season for Patrick Racing, Moreno has finished ten of 14 races, each time in the points, with nine top-10 performances including six top five finishes and four podium showings. The Weston, Florida resident is second in laps (1815 of 2012) and miles (2923.698 of 3309.751) completed, tied for fifth in poles (1), fifth in laps led (138) and tied for sixth in wins (1).

"This has been a dream season for me," said Moreno. "The Visteon/Patrick Racing team has done a fantastic job. I didn't expect to be as competitive as quickly as I was, but having a good start to the season has helped when we hit our down spots. We have put together two good performances in the last two races and are right back in the championship hunt. We just have to be consistent. We need to finish races and score points then good things will happen. People say to me there are six races left what do you think will happen? I don't think that way. You have to take each race one at a time and give 110%. If you do that the championship will be there at the end," Moreno concluded.

This will be the fourth time Moreno has competed on the challenging 1.781-mile Vancouver temporary street circuit. His best starting position is sixth, last year, and his best finish is 15th (1997 and 1999).

"I like the street circuit in Vancouver. It suits my style," said Moreno. "I was extremely competitive there last year, but things just didn't work out. Qualifying is very important at Vancouver, but the new layout provides some good places to pass. I am looking forward to going back to Vancouver. It is a great city and I think the race will be very important for the championship," Moreno said.

Fernandez, who is currently fourth in the championship race, is the hottest driver in the FedEx Championship Series. The 35-year-old Mexican started the season with two consecutive DNFs. He then captured his sixth career CART victory at Rio, which moved him into fifth place in the point's race. Despite three consecutive points paying finishes he was eighth going into Detroit where, in a freak incident, his visor tear off was sucked into the turbo intake knocking him out of the contest and dropping him to 10th in the points. Fernandez came back with two more finishes in the points, but was languishing in 11th place as late as July 2. Beginning with Toronto the talented and personable Fernandez has come on strong. He has finished in the top five in three of his last five races and in the top six in all five. Fernandez has scored points in 11 of his last 12 starts and is just three points out of third place, nine out of second and 22 out of first. The Paradise Valley, Arizona resident has finished 11 of 14 races this year (the most of any driver) each time in the points. He has 10 top-10 showings including five top five finishes with three podiums performances. Fernandez is third in miles completed (2888.497), fourth in laps (1784) completed, tied for sixth in wins (1) and tenth in laps led (73).

"The Tecate/Quaker State/Patrick Racing had some bad luck at the first two races of the season. Then some stupid things happen to us like in Detroit when my visor tear off went into the turbo intake," said Fernandez. "Through all that we were always competitive. Now things are falling into place. The Tecate/Quaker State/Patrick Racing crew has done a great job preparing the car and in the pits. We are in the middle of the championship fight, but I think we have the tools to win the championship. We just need to continue to be consistent and win some races," Fernandez concluded.

This will be the sixth time Fernandez has competed on the streets of Vancouver. In five previous races Fernandez' best qualifying position is 11th (1994 and 1996) and his best finish is eight (1996). Last year he missed the race due to a fractured right forearm. However, PJ Jones qualified the #40 Tecate/Quaker State/Patrick Racing Ford-Cosworth second. He ended up spinning on the rain soaked track and finished 21st.

"I love the city of Vancouver. It is one of my favorites in the series," said Fernandez. "The track has changed a lot since the last time I raced there. I have never driven two sections of the circuit, but I know most of the track very well. Also, last year, when I couldn't race because of my arm, PJ (Jones) did an outstanding job to qualify the car second. We have good data for the track and I think we should have a good set-up," Fernandez noted.

PATRICK RACING NOTES:

Fernandez Second In Budweiser Hard Charger Award Standings:

Adrian Fernandez remains in second place in the Budweiser Hard Charger Award standings. Luis Garcia Jr. holds a 16-point lead over Fernandez, 89-73.

Consistency For Fernandez And Moreno Goes Farther Than This Year:

Starting with Fontana in 1997, Fernandez has finished sixth or better in 30 of 50 events placing in the top-10 at 36 races and in the points 38 times. Moreno has finished in the top-10 in 15 of his last 27 CART starts and in the points 18 times.

Patrick Racing Tops Standings For Fifth Time In Last Six Years:

Patrick Racing has led the CART championship race at some point during the season in five of the last six years. They topped the standings at the halfway point of the season for the first time during that span this year.

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Wally Dallenbach Sr. , Michael Andretti , Adrian Fernandez , Roberto Moreno , Luis Garcia , Emerson Fittipaldi