Felipe Giaffone ...
#21 Hollywood/Mo Nunn Racing Chevrolet G-Force
Grand Prix of Miami - Saturday, March 2, 2002
Homestead Miami Speedway - Homestead, Fla. - 1.5-Mile Oval
Round 1 of 15 for the 2002 Indy Racing League
**27-year-old Brazilian Felipe Giaffone, the 2001 Indy Racing League Rookie of the Year, begins the 2002 IRL campaign with a new team - Mo Nunn Racing - but with longtime sponsor Hollywood, behind the wheel of the #21 Hollywood/Mo Nunn Racing Chevrolet G-Force. It's the same engine/chassis combination he drove for Treadway/Hubbard Racing last season.
**This is Mo Nunn Racing's inaugural Indy Racing League season after spending the first two years of its existence in the CART FedEx Championship Series with drivers Tony Kanaan (2000-2001) and Alex Zanardi (2002). In addition to Giaffone and the Hollywood car in the IRL, Mo Nunn Racing in 2002 will also campaign Kanaan's #10 Pioneer-WorldCom/Mo Nunn Racing Honda-Reynard in the CART series, Kanaan's fifth Champ Car season and third with Mo Nunn Racing. The 19-event CART season for 2002 commences March 10 at Monterrey, Mexico.
**In 13 IRL starts last season, Giaffone had 10 top-10 finishes and three top-fives, including a fourth-place finish from the fourth starting position here at Homestead. His best finish last season was second in the June race at Texas Motor Speedway.
**Prior to joining the IRL in 2001, Giaffone enjoyed a four-season run in the Dayton Indy Lights championship, a run that included a 2000 victory from the pole at Michigan. He was fourth in Indy Lights driver points in 1998 and 2000, and sixth in 1999 driving for Conquest racing.
**Giaffone's driving coach in 1999 was Brazilian three-time Formula 1 champion Nelson Piquet.
**In 1995, Giaffone earned Toyota Atlantic Series Rookie of the Year honors in his North American racing debut.
**Giaffone began racing go-karts in Brazil at age 12. His father was a longtime Brazilian stock car racer. Giaffone's brother Affonso and cousin Zeca also raced in Indy Lights.
**Also new for Giaffone this season: the 2002 season will be his first as a married man. He married his longtime girlfriend "Alice" on Jan. 15 in Brazil. As the story goes, Giaffone won the favor of his new bride back in 1994 singing karaoke.
**Engineering Giaffone's #21 Hollywood Chevrolet this season is Eric Cowdin, who moved to Mo Nunn Racing's IRL program after engineering Kanaan in the CART series during the team's first two seasons. Cowdin, in fact, engineered Kanaan's entries dating back to the 1996 and 1997 Dayton Indy Lights Rookie of the Year and series championship seasons, respectively, at Tasman Motorsports, as well as Kanaan's inaugural Champ Car season with Tasman (later Forsythe Championship Racing) in 1999. Kanaan won that year's U.S. 500 and sat on the pole at Long Beach.
**Peter Parrott, longtime Penske Motorsports and International Speedway Corp., executive, joined Mo Nunn Racing this past offseason to take on the role of team manager of the IRL program. Parrott was team manager at Vince Granatelli Racing in the early 1990s when Mo Nunn Racing team owner Morris Nunn was then engineer for Granatelli's entry for driver Arie Luyendyk.
**David Popielarz, Kanaan's CART series crew chief the past two seasons with Mo Nunn Racing, moves to the IRL side of the team to run the Giaffone entry' s Hollywood crew.
**Prior to starting his own team in 2000, Morris Nunn was technical director at Target/Chip Ganassi Racing during four consecutive CART championships won by the team for drivers Jimmy Vasser (1996), Alex Zanardi (1997-98) and Juan Montoya (1999). Nunn also engineered Emerson Fittipaldi's 1989 Indy 500 victory and CART series title. The former driver and Formula 1 team owner came to the U.S. in the early 1980s and over the years engineered such notable CART drivers as Eddie Cheever, Arie Luyendyk and Michael Andretti. Nunn's list of Formula 1 drivers includes Clay Regazzoni, Roberto Guerrero, Chris Amon, Jackie Ickx, Patrick Tambay, Nelson Piquet, Johnny Cecotto, and Derek Daly.
**Race time Saturday is 1 p.m. EST and it will be broadcast live by ABC-TV and the IMS Radio Network. Pre-race programming includes "Indy Racing 2Day" Saturday at 12:30 p.m. EST on ESPN2. Practice begins Thursday morning with qualifying set for Friday at 12:30 p.m. EST.
FELIPE GIAFFONE QUOTES
"I'm ready to go. We had a good series of tests over the offseason and I really think we made a lot of progress in every area. My sponsor (Brazilian tobacco brand) Hollywood is bringing a bunch of guests to the race, and since we don't race in Brazil, this will be our 'home' track for the season. So we'll have to get a good result! There are also a lot of Brazilians who live in and around Miami, and they always come out for this race and root for their countrymen. I like the track a lot. It's a lot like Indy in the way we set up the car. The biggest factor is usually the wind and the weather, just like at Indy. The track can change completely in a heartbeat, so you have to stay on top of the conditions. The racing is usually pretty good. I had a good result at Homestead last year (starting fourth, finishing fourth), so hopefully we can gain one or two or three spots in the order from there. I'm confident in my new team. They came over from CART to run this series, too, this season, and the competition throughout the IRL will pick up more so than ever with the other new teams, like Penske and Ganassi. The good thing is our guys all know what we're up against with those teams since they raced against them over in CART. What they will also find out is that there are some great competitors here in the IRL, like Panther and Kelley. It's going to be a great year. I'm really looking forward to getting started."