IRL: Giaffone dominates Test in the West at California

FONTANA, Calif., Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2003 -- OK, so it's very early, but a trend started to emerge after the first day for IRL IndyCar Series teams at the annual Test in the West on Feb. 4 at California Speedway. Felipe Giaffone and the Panoz G ...

FONTANA, Calif., Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2003 -- OK, so it's very early, but a trend started to emerge after the first day for IRL IndyCar Series teams at the annual Test in the West on Feb. 4 at California Speedway.

Felipe Giaffone and the Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone combination already are moving targets for the rest of the field -- very speedy targets, that is.

2001 Bombardier Rookie of the Year Giaffone dominated testing on the 2-mile oval, turning a fast lap of 31.8988 seconds, 225.714 mph, in the No. 21 Hollywood Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone fielded by Mo Nunn Racing.

"My car was very good out of the box, and I had two big drafts," Giaffone said. "Tony (Kanaan) gave me the first one, and Tomas (Scheckter) gave me the second one. The timing was just right; I had new tires, and I was lucky to have everyone in front of me, and I just happened to have a good lap."

Tomas Scheckter was second at 32.2601, 223.186 in the No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone, as that equipment package swept the top two spots.

"Everything is going well," Scheckter said. "Felipe was consistently quick today, and we're just working different setups to make sure the car is good for the race later on this year."

The Dallara/Honda/Firestone package of IndyCar Series newcomer Andretti Green Racing also was strong, taking the next two spots. Tony Kanaan was third at 32.3527, 222.547 in the No. 11 7-Eleven entry, while Dario Franchitti was fourth at 32.3546, 222.534.

Gil de Ferran rounded out the top five at 32.3559, 222.525 in the No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone.

Each of the top five laps were turned during the afternoon session. Giaffone also led the morning session, at 32.2879, 222.994.

The Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone package seized five of the top 10 spots overall today.

Rounding out the top 10 were Scott Dixon at 222.379 in the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone, Tora Takagi at 221.958 in the No. 12 Pioneer Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone, A.J. Foyt IV at 221.308 in the No. 14 Conseco Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone, two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Al Unser Jr. at 221.030 in the No. 31 Corteco/Bryant Dallara/Toyota/Firestone and two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves at 221.009 in the No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone.

Vitor Meira was the top Chevrolet-powered driver, 12th at 220.056 in the No. 2 Johns Manville Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone that he shared with Jaques Lazier. Two-time defending IndyCar Series champion Sam Hornish Jr. was 13th at 219.903 in the No. 4 Pennzoil Panther Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone.

Twenty-two drivers combined to turn 1,803 incident-free laps. Just .9843 of a second separated the top 16 drivers in the afternoon session.

IRL IndyCar Series and Infiniti Pro Series teams will spend Wednesday traveling to the second leg of the Test in the West at Phoenix International Raceway. Infiniti Pro Series drivers will test starting at 11 a.m. (EST) Thursday on the 1-mile desert oval, with IndyCar Series teams on track starting at 11 a.m. (EST) Friday and Saturday.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tomas Scheckter , Felipe Giaffone , Al Unser Jr. , Helio Castroneves , Gil de Ferran , Scott Dixon , Tony Kanaan , Tora Takagi , Chip Ganassi , A.J. Foyt , Sam Hornish Jr. , Jaques Lazier , Mo Nunn , Vitor Meira
Teams Team Penske , Chip Ganassi Racing , Chip Ganassi Racing