Visteon/Patrick Racing qualifies sixth for tomorrow's G. I. Joe's 200. PORTLAND, OREGON -- SATURDAY, JUNE 21, 2003 -- Round ...
Visteon/Patrick Racing qualifies sixth for tomorrow's G. I. Joe's 200.
PORTLAND, OREGON -- SATURDAY, JUNE 21, 2003 -- Round #8 - 2003 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season --
Visteon/Patrick Racing driver Oriol Servia qualified sixth today and will start on the outside of row three in tomorrow's G. I. Joe's 200 at Portland International Raceway in Portland, Oregon.
Servia began the day with the #20 Visteon/Patrick Racing entry, which is powered by Ford/Cosworth with a Lola chassis and Bridgestone tires, third on the provisional grid with a time of 59.519 seconds (119.095 mph). In morning practice the team made some changes, which improved the car, but they wound up sixth on the individual practice report with a fast lap of 60.216 seconds (117.716 mph). The slower time was due in part to the fact that the team did not use a new set of tires in the morning practice, however times overall were generally slower in the morning.
In qualifying, with rain threatening, Servia went out on his first set of tires immediately as the green flag dropped. After getting his tires up to temperature he ran his fastest time of the qualifying session, and the weekend, on lap No. 5 clocking in at 59.218 seconds (119.700 mph). Servia ran a total of eight of his allotted 15 laps before pitting for his second set of tires. With the weather continuing to deteriorate the team decided to head out immediately. By lap 11 Servia had the tires up to temperate, but unfortunately a combination of traffic and a slight handling problem prevented him from improving his time.
"For sure the Visteon/Patrick Racing car was better than yesterday and the track was quicker, so we thought we had a chance at the pole," Servia said. "The car was well balanced, but we just had a little understeer. That is what cost us some time, plus traffic during our second stint. It was a good car, but a couple of teams made a slightly bigger improvement than we did from yesterday," he explained. "The Visteon/Patrick Racing Team is okay starting sixth. We are about four tenths of a second off the pole, so we have some room for improvement, but we have a good race car and can definitely contend for the win," Servia concluded.
The native of Spain will be making his eighth consecutive start in the top- 10, which is his CART career high. Servia's best starting position this season is fourth at Monterrey and Brands Hatch. His highest career CART qualifying position is third at Texas in 2001, however the race was cancelled. Servia's highest CART career starting position is fourth at Nazareth in 2001, Monterrey and Brands Hatch. The sixth place starting position is also Servia's highest in three attempts at Portland International Raceway. He has finished in the top-10 in both his previous races at PIR placing eighth in 2000 and ninth in 2001.
Tomorrow's race is not crucial, but nevertheless very important to Servia's championship hopes. The resident of Miami, Florida, who was 18th in the standings, 62 points out of first, after the first three events of the season, has fought his way back into the championship hunt. He currently sits in seventh place in the standings and is tied for sixth with 48 points. Servia is now just five points out of fifth place and 41 out of first. A strong showing in tomorrow's G. I. Joe's 200 would solidify him as a championship contender.
For Servia, the road back into the championship race has been paved with a series of strong results that, taken together, amount to what can only be described as a career year. He is currently riding a streak that has seen him finish in the top-six in a CART career high four consecutive races including a career best second place showing at Milwaukee. The four top-10 performances are one short of his CART career high. However, it has been consistency throughout the first seven races that has really set the stage for Servia. He has placed in the points a CART career high tying five straight times and in six of the seven events.
Servia will be making his 61st career CART start and 18th for Visteon/Patrick Racing tomorrow. In 60 career CART starts, with four different teams over three plus seasons, he has earned 27 top-ten finishes including nine top-five showings with two podium performances. In 17 starts with Visteon/Patrick Racing, 10 in 2002 and seven this year, Servia has finished in the points 11 times with seven top-10 showings including five top-five placements and one podium performance.
Patrick Racing, which will be making its 25th start at Portland International Raceway tomorrow has now qualified in the top-10 a total of 17 times including eight times in the top-five with two poles (Emerson Fittipaldi - 1986 and Scott Pruett - 1997). They have finished in the top- 10 a total of 13 times including nine top five showing, eight podium performances and one victory (Fittipaldi - 1989). Patrick Racing's last pole came at Australia in 2001 with Roberto Moreno. The team's last win was at Vancouver in 2001 also with Moreno.
The Grand Prix of Portland/G. I. Joe's 200 June 20-22 will be televised live on CBS on Sunday, June 22 at 3:30 PM (ET).
For background, statistical information, releases, notes, quotes plus updates on race weekends, go to (www.patrickracing.com).