Takagi, Giaffone, Luyendyk all in top eight on Opening Day at Indy INDIANAPOLIS (Sunday, May 4, 2003) -- Opening Day of practice today for this year's 87th renewal of the Indianapolis 500 saw all three Mo Nunn Racing drivers finish in the top ...
Takagi, Giaffone, Luyendyk all in top eight on Opening Day at Indy
INDIANAPOLIS (Sunday, May 4, 2003) -- Opening Day of practice today for this year's 87th renewal of the Indianapolis 500 saw all three Mo Nunn Racing drivers finish in the top eight on the timesheets.
Tora Takagi and the #12 Pioneer/Mo Nunn Racing Toyota-powered Panoz G Force led the way with a workmanlike performance that showed him third in the order and the fastest Indy 500 "rookie" with a lap of 227.884 mph (39.4937 seconds) around the 2.5-mile four-cornered Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval. Takagi completed a total of 57 laps during today's rain-shortened session that begin at 1 p.m. CDT and was halted by rain for the day at approximately 3:27 p.m. CDT. Only Billy Boat, who was 24th on the timesheets today, put in more laps with 60.
Felipe Giaffone, who was the third-place finisher in last year's Indy 500, posted the seventh-fastest lap of the day in the #21 Hollywood/Mo Nunn Racing Toyota-powered Panoz G Force at 227.167 mph (39.6185 seconds) during 54 laps of work.
Arie Luyendyk and the #20 Meijer/Mo Nunn Racing Toyota-powered Panoz G Force was right behind Giaffone with the eighth-fastest lap today at 226.845 mph (39.6746 mph). The two-time Indy 500 winner and three-time polesitter, attempting to qualify for his 18th Indy 500 this month, completed 33 laps in all.
Scott Sharp was fastest in his back-up car today at 228.764 mph (39.3419 seconds) while two-time-defending Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves was second-fastest at 228.088 mph (39.4585 seconds). Takagi made it all Toyota power in the top three today. Dan Weldon (227.716/39.5230), Michael Andretti (227.461/39.5672) and Tomas Scheckter (227.210/39.6110) rounded out the top six ahead of Giaffone and Luyendyk. A total of 24 drivers took to the track today with 29 cars posting times.
Practice resumes Monday through Thursday with Pole Day qualifying set for next Saturday. Race day is May 25.
"Everything went pretty smoothly today, so I am quite happy with the car considering I didn't come here to test with Tora (Tagaki) and Arie (Luyendyk) a couple of weeks ago. But the team learned a lot from that test that helped me out a lot today. The cars seem to be quite different here this year than they were last year. Last year, it seemed so much more about handling. Now, the cars are really stuck to the track and it's more all about taking advantage of the draft than before. That means it will be good, close racing for the fans, which is what it's all about. But as a driver, sometimes it can get a little frustrating when your car is so stuck all the way around the track. We have a lot of things we want to try before this is all over. I mean, this is just the beginning. But, so far, so good. (On being the first competitors to take the track during today's Opening Day) I didn't' realize that until somebody told me. Of course, I was paying attention to a lot of other things. Really, you have to credit the crew for having me and the car absolutely ready. Because we didn't test here a couple of weeks ago with my teammates, we wanted to maximize our track time as much as possible today. They got the job done. Hopefully, the first car on the track today will be the first one to take the checkered flag on May 25. How sweet would that be?"
"Overall, everything is good. I cannot complain about being third fastest at Indy, no matter what day it is. We had a very good test here (on April 22) when it was the first time I ever saw this track. I really fell in love with it. I love the fast corners very much. I feel very comfortable in the car. There were no dramas today. We just needed to sort out some push that we had in the middle of the session, and we took care of that at the end, so we are happy. I know the guys ahead of me had some help on their fast laps. I ran my fast lap almost all on my own. And when I was running all alone, I was running very consistent, fast laps. For my first real practice experience at Indy, I'm very happy. We'll see how things develop."
"Today, we shook down a second new car. We did the first one on the 22nd of last month. All in all, I like this car a lot better. I think it will be our race car. There were no issues whatsoever. The Meijer crew did a really good job of preparing the car. I happy with what we got done today, which really wasn't a whole lot since we had to stop early because of the rain. But that's one of the games you play here -- try to get in as much work between weather delays. I did have some helmet issues that we need to clear up. There was a lot of (helmet) buffeting that made it difficult to get a clear focus on what I wanted to do out there. We made it a little better, but we still have to figure out what to do to clear it up. I'm not concerned about that, in the long run. It feels good to be back at the Speedway again."