FT. WORTH, TEXAS - FRIDAY, APRIL 27, 2001 -- Round ...
FT. WORTH, TEXAS - FRIDAY, APRIL 27, 2001 -- Round #3 of the 2001 FedEx Championship Series - Patrick Racing's Jimmy Vasser is 15th and Roberto Moreno 23rd on the combined speed charts after the first day of practice for the inaugural Firestone Firehawk 600 at Texas Motor Speedway in Ft. Worth, Texas.
There were two practice sessions today, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Both sessions were run in hot weather although a slight breeze picked-up in the late afternoon.
Vasser, in the #40 Patrick Racing Toyota Reynard, spent much of both sessions in the top-10, but fell into the low and middle teens by the end of each practice. His fastest time in the morning session was 23.358 seconds for a speed of 228.410 mph. That put him 18th out of the 49 cars participating in the morning run (most team's ran their back-up cars for a few laps). In the afternoon, times improved only slightly as most teams opted to work on the full tank race set-ups for much of the session. Vasser showed some of the greatest improvement turning a fast lap of 23.219 seconds (229.777 mph). The almost .14 second and 1.4 mph improvement put him 12th on the afternoon individual practice report and jumped him three places on the combined report to 15th overall.
"We worked on a lot of things today," said Vasser. "We experimented with some settings we hadn't tried before, tried some different springs and definitely learned a lot. We are not where we want to be just yet, but we are going in the right direction. I'm going to sit down with the engineers this afternoon and go over all the data we collected. By tomorrow, I am sure we will come up with some things that will improve the Patrick Racing Toyota Reynard for qualifying."
Vasser, who has five oval victories, most recently at Fontana in 1998, in nine plus seasons of CART competition, has been particularly strong in his first two outings with Patrick Racing. He has placed in the top six in both starts, finishing sixth in Mexico and fifth in Long Beach. He is currently fifth in the FedEx Championship Series 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.
Moreno, who is driving at Texas Motor Speedway for the first time (Vasser tested here in February) piloted the #20 Visteon/Patrick Racing Toyota Reynard to 19th place, one place behind his teammate, in the morning practice with a time of 23.361 second (228.381). In the afternoon session the team worked extensively with full tanks as Moreno continued to get valuable track time and the team improved the car. However, toward the end of the session, with the tank low on fuel and Moreno preparing to make a run at a quick time, he had a mechanical problem that forced him into his back-up car. Unfortunately, he was unable to get the back-up car up to speed in the time remaining and therefore, was unable to improve on his morning time. Moreno's fastest lap in the afternoon session was 23.748 seconds (224.659 mph), which he ran in the primary car. His 228.381 lap in the morning put him 23rd on the combined speed charts.
"It was a good first day for the Visteon/Patrick Racing team and myself," Moreno said. "This was my first time on this track and I learned quite a bit. Basically, we spent the day following-up on what Jimmy did during his test here in February and getting me as many laps as possible. We tried a lot of different things today.
In the afternoon we ran full tanks and the Visteon/Patrick Racing Toyota Reynard felt quite good. I think we have a good race package. Unfortunately, late in the afternoon session we had a mechanical problem that forced us to go to the back-up car. We didn't really get enough time in the back-up car, but overall, it also felt very good. Now we just need to take a look at the overall picture and come up with a set-up for qualifying. I am quite confident the Visteon/Patrick Racing team will have a good car for tomorrow."
Moreno had the two best oval performances, and best 500-mile oval finish, of his career last year, placing second at Homestead and Fontana. He was also the most consistent oval competitor in 2000 scoring the most points on ovals of any active driver. In nine ovals races during the 2000 season Moreno had seven finishes in the top-10 with five top-five performances including four podium showings. He has finished in the points in 11 of his last 14 oval starts dating back to the 1999 season. The 42-year-old native of Brazil has finished in the points once in the first two races of the 2001 FedEx Championship Series season, an 11th place showing at Long Beach. Moreno has finished in the top-10 in 18 of his last 35 starts and in the points 23 times.
The will be another practice session tomorrow morning with qualifying for the Firestone Firehawk 600 set to begin at 1:30 (CT). The race will be run on Sunday, April 29 at 2:00 p.m. (CT) and will be televised live on ESPN.