IRL: Texas: Friday practice report

Giaffone, Takagi team for top spots in Texas practice FORT WORTH, Texas, Friday, June 6, 2003 -- Mo Nunn Racing teammates Felipe Giaffone and Tora Takagi posted the two fastest speeds of the event during the final practice for the Bombardier 500...

Giaffone, Takagi team for top spots in Texas practice

FORT WORTH, Texas, Friday, June 6, 2003 -- Mo Nunn Racing teammates Felipe Giaffone and Tora Takagi posted the two fastest speeds of the event during the final practice for the Bombardier 500 on June 6 at Texas Motor Speedway.

Giaffone led at 23.7471 seconds, 220.574 mph in the No. 21 Hollywood Mo Nunn Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone. Takagi was second at 23.8182, 219.916 in the No. 12 Pioneer Mo Nunn Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone.

The climb in speed was surprising considering that it occurred in the final practice, when teams usually test their full-tank race setup, which normally is slower than a qualifying setup. Tomas Scheckter won the MBNA Pole Thursday night with a lap of 23.8851, 219.300 in the No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone.

But Giaffone admitted that he, Takagi and a host of other drivers benefited from driving in the slipstream of other cars, which creates plenty of extra speed while driving in the inches-apart packs that have become commonplace in IRL IndyCarTM Series events on the 1.5-mile oval.

The final practice was the only session during the event in which all 22 starters were allowed on track at the same time, creating a large aerodynamic draft.

"Everybody is getting a big tow," Giaffone said. "Of course, I had a huge one. There were a lot of cars (in front of me). I think it was just one of those big tows."

The Bombardier 500 -- the first night race of the IndyCar Series season -- starts at 8 p.m. (EDT) Saturday. It will be broadcast live by ESPN and the IMS Radio Network.

The dramatic effect of the "tows" in the final practice was magnified when comparing Giaffone's top speed to the top lap turned during the opening practice, which was split into two groups of 11 cars.

Series point leader Tony Kanaan led the first practice at 24.0403, 217.884 in the No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone. Giaffone was fifth at 24.1287, 217.086.

"The car's been good, and I think we're running quick on our own," Giaffone said. "The car is good for the race. We've just got to play the right strategies and be ready."

Series veteran Jaques Lazier increased his readiness for the race after being called in as a last-minute replacement for Airton Dare, who suffered a broken upper right arm and broken upper right leg in a practice crash Thursday in the No. 5 Conseco/A.J. Foyt Racing entry. Lazier was available after being released last week by Team Menard.

Lazier drove the Foyt car for the first time today, recording a top lap of 24.0789, 217.535 in the final practice.

"I'm speechless," Lazier said. "I came to watch this weekend, and I hate to get a ride like this. My thoughts are with Airton, and I'm glad he's going to be OK. To be driving for a legend like A.J. is beyond words. I'm just thrilled.

"It's the whole package, the car, the Toyota engine. I'm finally getting to use gears I only dreamed about until now. I know there's more in the car. It's been a blur since A.J. asked me to drive last night. I came to the track at 10 a.m. and did a final seat fitting. I'm trying to stay calm and cool about everything."

Dare is in stable condition, awake and alert at Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas after surgery Thursday night on his two fractures, said Dr. Henry Bock, Indy Racing League director of medical services.

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tomas Scheckter , Felipe Giaffone , Airton Daré , Tony Kanaan , Tora Takagi , Chip Ganassi , A.J. Foyt , Jaques Lazier , Mo Nunn
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing