Moreno Goes 5 for 5 and Goes - by Robin Miller With all the testing, multi-year contracts and structure in today's champ car racing, there is little chance for a driver to come in cold, jump into a car and make it sing. But Roberto...
Moreno Goes 5 for 5 and Goes - by Robin Miller
With all the testing, multi-year contracts and structure in today's champ car racing, there is little chance for a driver to come in cold, jump into a car and make it sing.
But Roberto Moreno did that very thing the past couple months and got into a rhythm that put PacWest Racing in one of those foot-stomping, hand-clapping moods that this team needed desperately.
In the five races he replaced the injured Mark Blundell, the 40-year-old veteran had PacWest singing his praises after posting finishes of 11th, 4th 12th, 7th, and 8th. He charged from 19th to 4th at Gateway in his May debut and qualified 5th fastest in his finale at Cleveland.
``In this kind of situation, I don't think you could ask for a better performance than Roberto gave us,'' said PacWest team manager John Anderson.
``He was the consummate professional and a helluva good guy to work with.'' Moreno, who scored more points (26) in his short stint than teammate Mauricio Gugelmin and Blundell combined for (18) together reckons his years of Formula One racing and testing helped accelerate his learning curve with PacWest.
``Well, since 1996 when I came back to CART, I've driven a Lola, a Reynard, a Penske and a Swift so let's say I had a pretty good feel for what we were trying to accomplish,'' said Moreno, who gave Payton/Coyne Racing it's best ever showing with a third in the 1996 Marlboro 500 at Michigan.
``I worked with English engineers for 10-12 years of my life and I hit it off right away with Allen McDonald. He can just tell what I need by looking into my eyes.''
During a career that spanned nine years in Formula One and a foray into Indy cars in the mid-80s, Moreno has been regarded as a smart, sound driver who knows how to set up a car and bring it home.
``I drove some bad cars in F-1 but I also had the opportunity to test for McLaren and Ferrari,'' said the ever-pleasant Brazilian native who was replaced at Benetton in 1990 by Michael Schumacher. ``It seems like I am always chasing the right opportunity but it's not often I get it.''
He came to America in 1985 and qualified for his first Indianapolis 500 with Rick Galles. After a full season of CART in '86, he headed to F-1 but wound up driving for bottom-of-the-barrel teams like Coloni, AGS, Forti Corse, EuroBrun and Andrea Moda through the '90s.
``My theory was anything I can drive, I try to do it because it keeps you sharp,'' he said. ``I had a good ride with Benetton and then Michael came along. My days at Ferrari and McLaren were very valuable.
``Right now F-1 racing is a very tough business and not a lot of guys have a chance to win. That's what I like about CART. It gives me a chance to be competitive and win.''
With Blundell scheduled back in the Motorola Reynard/Mercedes/Firestone this weekend at Elkhart Lake, Moreno was asked if there was a chance McCaw might field three cars the rest of the 1999 FedEx Championship?
``I haven't asked him and it really wouldn't be fair to the team,'' he replied. ``Bruce has been great to me and I really appreciate the opportunity but running three cars would just be too much. Maybe the last race, but not halfway through the season.''
Now living outside Fort Lauderdale, Moreno says he's in search of two things. `I'm trying to get my green card and a full-time ride with a competitive team in CART,'' he said with a chuckle. ``I need them both.''
Source: CART Online