IRL: Phoenix: Mo Nunn Racing Friday report

Giaffone, Takagi creep up the charts in practice at Phoenix. PHOENIX (Friday, March 21, 2003) -- Felipe Giaffone and Mo Nunn Racing teammate Tora Takagi made a steady climb up the speed charts during morning and afternoon practice today for ...

Giaffone, Takagi creep up the charts in practice at Phoenix.

PHOENIX (Friday, March 21, 2003) -- Felipe Giaffone and Mo Nunn Racing teammate Tora Takagi made a steady climb up the speed charts during morning and afternoon practice today for Sunday's Purex Dial Indy 200 on the Phoenix International Raceway mile oval.

Giaffone and the #21 Hollywood/Mo Nunn Racing Toyota-powered Panoz G Force wound up sixth in this afternoon's 30-minute practice session after opening the day ninth in morning practice. He circled the D-shaped mile oval layout in 20.8943 seconds (172.296 mph) on his best lap this afternoon, a full 10th of a second slower than his best lap this morning, when conditions were significantly cooler. The majority of the field clocked their fastest times in the morning session, when Giaffone's time of record was a lap of 20.7714 seconds (173.315 mph).

Takagi and the #12 Pioneer/Mo Nunn Racing Toyota-powered Panoz G Force was seventh this afternoon after running eighth in the morning session. Takagi's best lap this afternoon was a 20.9071-second (172.190-mph) effort after opening the weekend with a fast lap of 20.7712 seconds (173.317 mph) this morning.

Kenny Brack's morning lap of 20.3160 seconds (177.200 mph) was fastest on the day, followed by Scott Dixon's morning lap of 20.4459 seconds (176.074 mph). Dario Franchitti's afternoon lap of 20.4861 seconds (175.729 mph) was the third-fastest lap of the day.

Practice resumes Saturday morning with MBNA Pole Qualifying set to begin at noon local time (2 p.m. EST). Race time Sunday is 1:30 p.m. local time (3:30 p.m. EST) with a live broadcast set for ABC-TV (subject to change -- check local listings).

FELIPE GIAFFONE

"I think we're making steady progress, which is a good thing. We're not as strong as we were when we tested here two weeks ago. For some reason, the track has changed. We were working on race setup at the beginning of the afternoon session, and then we put on some new tires at the end of the session to try and get a fast time. But that's when traffic became a problem for me, so that made me a little mad. We're fighting a loose car in some places, and it pushes in some places, which is exactly the kind of combination you don't want to have. Right now, we have a good race car. I felt comfortable during my long runs this morning and this afternoon. It's definitely a better race car than a qualifying car. Tomorrow morning, we'll come out and work on our qualifying setup."

TORA TAKAGI

"I think our biggest problem is that we were in the first (practice) group, and the track was very dirty because of the cars from the other (support) series that ran before us. It actually got better and better every lap, but then the second group had a much better track to run on. We had no major problems. The conditions are very different that when we were here to test two weeks ago. But, overall, I'm happy that we are going in the right direction."

-mnr-

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Series INDYCAR