INDIANAPOLIS (Monday, Nov. 11, 2002) -- Mo Nunn Racing will double up its efforts for the 2003 Indy Racing League season by expanding to a two-car team and partnering with Toyota as the championship engine manufacturer turns its attention to the IRL for the very first time.
The team, operated by five-time CART championship-winning engineer Morris Nunn, will begin its fourth year of existence by fielding a pair of Toyota-powered Panoz G-Forces for the 2003 IRL season -- one, a Hollywood-sponsored entry featuring returning driver Felipe Giaffone and the other for a new sponsor/driver combination that will be announced in early December.
Giaffone, a 27-year-old veteran of two IRL seasons, joined Mo Nunn Racing for its League debut as driver of the #21 Hollywood/Mo Nunn Racing entry in 2002. He finished fourth in the driver championship with 12 top-seven finishes in 15 events, which included the team's first-ever race win at Kentucky Speedway in August, as well as a solid third-place finish at the Indianapolis 500, a runner-up finish at Nazareth, and two other third-place runs at Richmond and Michigan.
"Based on our performance in 2002, we have great confidence that both of our cars will be in the thick of the championship hunt in '03," Nunn said. "Felipe, (team manager) Peter Parrott and the entire team were so good all season and our showing at the Indy 500 was a real shot in the arm for the program we are building. Going to two cars is a logical step for us and partnering with Toyota makes our outlook incredibly promising."
"Mo Nunn Racing showed itself to be an elite-level team by finishing fourth overall in the team's first season of IRL competition, and we're thrilled that they've chosen to campaign Toyota engines in 2003," said Jim Aust, vice president of Toyota Motorsports. "Felipe Giaffone has established himself as one of the top young drivers in the sport."
"It's great to be on board with Toyota," Giaffone said. "They have been very successful in everything they have done. Toyota just won the CART championship, and I think that will be good momentum as they start their IRL program. With Toyota engines, our team will definitely improve next season."
In joining forces with Toyota for the first time, Mo Nunn Racing becomes part of a motorsports championship legacy that, most recently, added the CART manufacturers title to a long list of landmark achievements. Toyota-powered cars have won nine of the 18 CART events run so far this season and 20 events in all during the last three years.
Mo Nunn Racing, based in Indianapolis, was formed in December of 1999. Nunn is one of the best-known and most successful engineers in Indy car racing history. While serving as chief engineer for Alex Zanardi in 1996, 1997 and 1998, he helped guide Zanardi to Rookie of the Year honors (1996) and back-to-back FedEx Series championships (1997-98). In 1999, Nunn teamed with current Formula 1 star Juan Pablo Montoya to win that year's CART FedEx Series championship. Nunn also guided Emerson Fittipaldi to an Indy car championship and an Indy 500 victory in 1989.
The 16-event Indy Racing League schedule for 2003 begins March 2 at Homestead, Fla.