Takagi qualifies third, Giaffone fifth for Sunday's Kansas Indy 300 KANSAS CITY, Kan. (Saturday, July 5, 2003) -- After a bit of suspense at the end of today's qualifying session for Sunday's Kansas Indy 300, Mo Nunn Racing teammates Tora Takagi...
Takagi qualifies third, Giaffone fifth for Sunday's Kansas Indy 300
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (Saturday, July 5, 2003) -- After a bit of suspense at the end of today's qualifying session for Sunday's Kansas Indy 300, Mo Nunn Racing teammates Tora Takagi and Felipe Giaffone -- first and last to go in the 22-car qualifying order here -- put their respective Toyota-powered Indy cars in the top five on the starting grid.
First to go, Takagi and the #12 Pioneer/Mo Nunn Racing Toyota-powered Panoz G Force turned a fast lap of 25.1542 seconds (217.53 mph) around the 1.5-mile Kansas Speedway 1.5-mile tri-oval. That lap was beaten only by Ganassi Racing teammates Tomas Scheckter (25.0911 seconds, 218.08 mph) and Scott Dixon (25.1134 seconds, 217.89 mph), who stole the front-row starting spots for Sunday's 200-lap, 300-mile race with track-record performances. It marks the second time in as many races that Takagi qualified third, the third time in the last four races he's done so, and the fourth time this season. He qualified third at Richmond last weekend but then crashed his primary car in final practice, had to start from the back of the grid in his back-up car and ended up finishing 13th. Takagi also qualified third at Japan's Twin Ring Motegi in April, and at Texas early last month. He went on to finish third at Texas for his best race result of the season.
Giaffone and the #21 Hollywood/Mo Nunn Racing Toyota-powered Panoz G Force, originally slotted to be the fourth driver-car combination to make a qualifying run today, opted to withdraw the primary car and switch to the back-up Hollywood machine, which was the race car last Saturday night at Richmond (where Giaffone finished sixth) but had yet to turn a practice lap here this weekend. Thus, Giaffone moved to the back of the qualifying line and was limited to just one hot lap instead of the traditional two. He made it count as he clocked a 25.3689-second (215.69-mph) tour of the circuit that put him fifth on the starting grid. It was his fourth top-five qualifying effort in eight races this season.
Race time Sunday is noon local time (1 p.m. EDT) with a live broadcast set for ABC-TV.
"The Pioneer car was just great all weekend. I have to thank the whole team for preparing an excellent car for me yesterday and today. I know if we had more time that we could do maybe a few little things to get even more speed. But, overall, we are happy with qualifying third for the fourth time this season. I think I have a very good car in traffic for the race. Obviously, it works well when I'm by myself. The job tomorrow will be very obvious. We need to stay at the front and make sure we have good pit stops. It will be very hot, but that is the same for everybody. We are confident, but we will work very, very hard to make sure we can get the job done tomorrow."
"Wow, what can you say after that? We took a huge gamble and it paid off for us big-time. We just weren't satisfied with how our primary Hollywood car for the weekend was working, so we thought about all of our options and decided it might be worth a try to switch to the backup car. You never know for sure how the car will be until you take it out on the track. And that car didn't turn a wheel all weekend here. It was our race car at Richmond and, as you could see, it was very good right off the transporter. What a great job by my guys for getting the car together and through tech in time to make a qualifying run. We only had one lap, but I figured if we couldn't do it in one lap, then we weren't going to do it anyway. Now we can go back and build our strategy for tomorrow knowing that we've got a great car to work with for the race. What a relief!"