IRL: St. Louis: Mo Nunn Racing race report

Takagi, new Dallara seventh at Gateway 250; Barron out early MADISON, Ill. (Sunday, Aug. 10, 2003) -- Tora Takagi and the maiden voyage of the all-new ...

Takagi, new Dallara seventh at Gateway 250; Barron out early

MADISON, Ill. (Sunday, Aug. 10, 2003) -- Tora Takagi and the maiden voyage of the all-new #12 Pioneer/Mo Nunn Racing Toyota-powered Dallara chassis ended with a solid seventh-place finish in today's Emerson Indy 250 at Gateway International Raceway across the Mississippi River from St. Louis.

Teammate Alex Barron's day in the #21 Hollywood/Mo Nunn Racing Toyota-powered Panoz G Force, meanwhile, ended on Lap 135 of the 200-lap race with gearbox damage as the result of a rear-end collision on a Lap 40 pit stop courtesy of Roger Yasukawa.

Takagi, who like the Hollywood/Mo Nunn team also campaigned a Panoz G Force chassis through the first 10 events of his first season as an IRL IndyCar Series competitor, started 10th in his all-new Pioneer Dallara and ran a steady race from beginning to end. He was running 10th until the first round of pit stops under yellow on Lap 40, picked up three positions with brilliant pit work, again under yellow, to move to seventh on Lap 93, and he ran in the top eight the rest of the way. He pitted a final time under yellow on Lap 141. Today's finish was his seventh top-eight finish in the last nine races. He remained in 10th place in the driver points standings with 229.

Barron, subbing for the third race in a row for the injured Felipe Giaffone and the winner two weekends ago at Michigan Speedway, appeared headed for a top finish once again until he was forced to coast to a stop on the safety road between Turns 1 and 2 on Lap 135. Barron was hit from behind by Yasukawa during a Lap 40 pit road pileup, and the impact, unbeknownst to the Hollywood team at the time, punctured the rear end of his gearbox unit. Ninety-five laps later, the gearbox failed. Barron took over for Giaffone after the regular Hollywood driver suffered a fractured right femur and pelvis in a July 6 racing accident at Kansas Speedway. Giaffone is returning this coming week from his native Brazil, where he has been rehabbing, and plans to return to the cockpit in time for the Sept. 7 event at Chicagoland Speedway.

Polesitter Helio Castroneves picked up his first victory of the season today. Tony Kanaan finished second and regained the driver points lead. Gil de Ferran, last year's winner here at Gateway, finished third.

The next stop on the tour is next weekend at Kentucky Speedway, where Giaffone scored the Hollywood/Mo Nunn team's inaugural IRL IndyCar Series victory last year. Giaffone plans to be there as a spectator, as well as at the following week's event at Nazareth Speedway in Pennsylvania.

TORA TAKAGI

"Seventh place today is a pretty good result for our first time racing the Dallara. The new Pioneer car felt good to me since we ran it here in the test right after the Michigan race. It's still very early and we have a lot to learn, but we all seem to be learning very quickly. The car wasn't handling as well as we would have liked in the beginning of the race today. We made some adjustments on the first two pit stops and the car was great for the second half of the race. We were running lap times consistent with the leaders from our second pit stop until the end of the race. So it was a good job by the engineers and the crew. This is a good starting point. I think we will come back with the Dallara next week at Kentucky."

ALEX BARRON

"That was a shame -- our first DNF together with the Hollywood/Mo Nunn team. I felt something let go in the back of the car and we knew we weren't going to go any farther. That's really a shame because we had the car right where we wanted it. It looked like we would have a top-five finish, for sure. Maybe even better. It turns out when I got smacked from behind by Roger Yasukawa on the first pit stop, it put a hole in the gearbox. The team saw that my gearbox temperatures started running a little hot from that point forward. Eventually, it was going to let go. I'm sure everybody was praying for it to hold on. Oh well. It's on to Kentucky, where the Hollywood team won last year."

-mnr-

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Helio Castroneves , Gil de Ferran , Tony Kanaan , Tora Takagi , Alex Barron , Roger Yasukawa , Mo Nunn