INDIANAPOLIS (Tuesday, July 15, 2003) -- IRL IndyCar Series and CART veteran Alex Barron, who replaced injured Mo Nunn Racing driver Arie Luyendyk at this year's Indianapolis 500, returns to the team this weekend to sub for the injured Felipe ...
INDIANAPOLIS (Tuesday, July 15, 2003) -- IRL IndyCar Series and CART veteran Alex Barron, who replaced injured Mo Nunn Racing driver Arie Luyendyk at this year's Indianapolis 500, returns to the team this weekend to sub for the injured Felipe Giaffone in the #21 Hollywood/Mo Nunn Racing Toyota-powered Panoz G Force at the Firestone Indy 200 at Nashville Superspeedway.
The 32-year-old Barron, who was the fastest Bump Day qualifier at Indy and drove the #20 Meijer/Mo Nunn Racing Toyota-powered Panoz G Force from 25th on the starting grid to a sixth-place finish to earn MCI Long Distance Award honors, returns to the scene of his first-ever IRL victory at Nashville in 2002 while he was with Blair Racing.
Giaffone had surgery last week to repair a fractured right femur and pelvis that resulted from an accident that also involved driver Dan Wheldon at the Kansas Indy 300 on July 6. Giaffone is currently recovering at Rehabilitation Hospital of Indiana here and it is uncertain when he will be able to return to the cockpit.
"Alex did a tremendous job for us with relatively little preparation at Indy this year and we are fortunate that a driver of his caliber is available to help us out of a tough situation this weekend," said team owner Morris Nunn, whose two-car team also features Japanese open-wheel driving veteran Tora Takagi behind the wheel of the #12 Pioneer/Mo Nunn Racing Toyota-powered Panoz G Force. "It is a shame what happened to Felipe (Giaffone) at Kansas Speedway two weekends ago, especially since his injuries resulted from an accident that we believe was not his fault. We wish him the speediest of recoveries. We're confident he'll come back stronger than ever. In the meantime, we are prepared to keep Hollywood in the championship hunt with Alex behind the wheel this weekend."
Barron, from Menifee, Calif., finished fifth in the driver points during his first full IRL IndyCar Series season in 2002 with Blair Racing. In addition to his victory at Nashville, Barron scored Indy 500 Bank One Rookie of the Year honors with a fourth-place finish at The Brickyard in 2002. (Takagi earned the same honor this season with his fifth-place finish at Indy.) Barron subbed for the injured Gil de Ferran at Japan's Twin Ring Motegi, and was the fastest driver in testing for this year's Indy 500 while with Team Penske prior to the month of May before de Ferran returned. Luyendyk began the month of May in the #20 Meijer/Mo Nunn entry, but decided to step out of the car after a practice accident the day before Pole Day qualifying. Barron took over six days later.
"We're going to be under the gun once again, but aside from the Speedway at Indy, I can't think of a better situation or a track to jump back into a race car on short notice," Barron said. "Having won the Nashville race last year, and having been a part of the Mo Nunn team at Indy this year, I think our chances of being competitive in the race Saturday night are very, very good. I'm definitely looking forward to it."
Practice and qualifying for the Firestone Indy 200 are Friday with race time Saturday set for 8 p.m. EDT.