Barron finishes fifth, Takagi seventh at Firestone Indy 200 NASHVILLE (Saturday, July 19, 2003) -- Alex Barron, subbing for the injured Felipe Giaffone in the ...
Barron finishes fifth, Takagi seventh at Firestone Indy 200
NASHVILLE (Saturday, July 19, 2003) -- Alex Barron, subbing for the injured Felipe Giaffone in the #21 Hollywood/Mo Nunn Racing Toyota-powered Panoz G Force, brought home a fifth-place finish while teammate Tora Takagi and the #12 Pioneer/Mo Nunn Racing Toyota-powered Panoz G Force ended up seventh in tonight's Firestone Indy 200 on the Nashville Superspeedway 1.33-mile concrete oval.
Barron, the defending race-winner here, qualified sixth, moved into fifth on the very first lap, but lost the spot just as the race went yellow for the first time on Lap 30. The team's appeal to IRL IndyCar Series officials that Tony Kanaan passed Barron after the caution lights came on was denied. Barron re-emerged in seventh after pitting on Lap 37, losing another spot to the car of Scott Sharp, which did not pit. Barron moved back up to sixth before the second yellow of the race appeared on Lap 58. The Hollywood team elected to keep him out on the track while the Penske and Ganassi cars elected to pit, moving Barron up to third. Barron moved up to second on Lap 100 before his second fuel-and-tire stop of the race on Lap 105. He dropped back to 16th with several cars running a different fuel strategy ahead of him. He pitted one last time to top off his fuel tank under yellow on Lap 131 and re-merged in 12th place. Barron picked off four positions by Lap 164, and got his final three spots of the night when three cars ahead of him pitted after the yellow flag came out on Lap 168. It was Barron's second run with the Mo Nunn Team after having subbed for the injured Arie Luyendyk in the Meijer/Mo Nunn Racing Toyota-powered Panoz G Force at this year's Indy 500, where he was the fastest Bump Day qualifier and went on to finish sixth from the 25th spot on the starting grid. Barron won this race last year while driving for Blair Racing. Giaffone missed his first IRL IndyCar Series race since fracturing his right femur and pelvis at Kansas Speedway two weekends ago.
Takagi qualified third for the third event in a row and for the fifth time this season and stayed in the top four until his second pit stop of the night under green on Lap 103. The Pioneer/Mo Nunn team employed the same fuel strategy as teammate Barron, pitting under yellow on Lap 34 but electing to stay out during the second yellow that came out on Lap 58. Takagi moved into the lead on Lap 101 and held it for two laps before giving it up on his Lap 103 pit stop, which dropped him back to 13th. From that point he mounted an oftentimes thrilling charge back to the front, fighting back into the lead by Lap 160, where he stayed for the next 13 laps. But he had to pit a final time under yellow on Lap 172 and fell back to ninth. He lost three spots after an aborted attempt to pass Al Unser, Jr., on the Lap 178 restart, but quickly got back into the top 10 by Lap 183. He picked up three positions on the first two laps after another restart on Lap 196 and brought his Pioneer car home in seventh place. Takagi led twice for 15 laps. He moved up to 10th in the driver points standings with 175.
Gil de Ferran picked up the win tonight and was followed across the finish line by runner-up Scott Dixon and third-place-finishing Helio Castroneves.
The next stop on the tour is next weekend's Firestone Indy 400 at the Michigan Speedway 2-mile tri-oval.
"I've got to say that was a whole lot of fun. It was great to come back to Nashville, where I won my first IRL race last year. The circumstances aren't all that great with having to replace a fellow driver who got injured, but I hope Felipe (Giaffone) is proud of his team tonight. I felt all night that we had a chance to win. This is a great team. I've got a great bunch of guys behind me. It's great to work with (engineer) Iain Watt. Our strategy turned out to work out for us. Of course we wanted to win, but it feels good to leave hear feeling that we definitely could have won this race. The guys did a fabulous job getting me in and out of the pits. We made absolutely minimal changes to the car. It was already where we wanted it in final practice last night (where Barron was fastest on the timesheet). This is just a super racetrack to race on. I had a great time."
"Our strategy didn't turn out to work in our favor, but it was definitely great fun to race to the end. I think we could have maybe won the race if the strategy would have worked out in our favor. But that is how it goes. I was very happy with my race car. This was maybe my best race car of the season so far. At least as good as it was for me at Indy and at Texas. We learned a lot this weekend and I can't wait to go to Michigan next week."