Late penalty spoils Giaffone's victory bid at Chicagoland; Takagi 9th JOLIET, Ill. (Sunday, Sept. 7, 2003) -- Tora Takagi finished ninth and Mo Nunn Racing teammate Felipe Giaffone was vying for the victory until a late-race black-flag penalty...
Late penalty spoils Giaffone's victory bid at Chicagoland; Takagi 9th
JOLIET, Ill. (Sunday, Sept. 7, 2003) -- Tora Takagi finished ninth and Mo Nunn Racing teammate Felipe Giaffone was vying for the victory until a late-race black-flag penalty and had to settle for a disappointing 15th at today's Delphi Indy 400 at Chicagoland Speedway.
It was Giaffone's first race back in the #21 Hollywood/Mo Nunn Racing Toyota-powered Panoz G Force since breaking his right femur and pelvis in a racing accident at Kansas on July 6. He started third and was running fourth, on a move toward the front when, on Lap 177 of today's 200-lap event, he was assessed a drive-through penalty for allegedly blocking eventual runner-up Scott Dixon. Giaffone served the penalty on Lap 181, then was right back into the pits the next time around for a splash of fuel that would get him to the checkered flag. He lost a lap in the ordeal and lost 11 positions in all.
Takagi and the #12 Pioneer/Mo Nunn Racing Toyota-powered Panoz G Force started 11th and got as high as sixth during the first round of fuel-and-tire stops under green that began on Lap 53. Takagi made his first of four stops on the day on Lap 56 and resumed in 14th. He picked up another position during his second pit stop under yellow on Lap 75, which moved him to 13th. Another two spots, up to 11th place, came with a quick stop under yellow on Lap 123. The final stop, under yellow on Lap 187, got Takagi up to 10th. He gained one more position on the racetrack before the finish.
Two-time-defending series champion Sam Hornish, Jr., picked up his second victory of the season in a photo finish as he, Dixon and third-place-finishing Bryan Herta crossed the line three abreast.
After taking next weekend off, the IRL IndyCar Series resumes Sept. 19-21 on the California Speedway 2-mile tri-oval with the Toyota Indy 400, the penultimate round of this season's 16-event schedule.
"Forget about my injuries and being out of the car for the last two months. None of that was an issue today. The issue was the penalty at the end of the race. All I can say is I'm really, really disappointed at the decision. I am very, very upset about the whole thing. I know people are up there trying to do their job. I'm out there trying to do mine. And I don't believe I did anything at all that deserved a black flag. I told the guys on the radio that I made a slight mistake and got a little close to (Scott) Dixon, but I got out of it right away and I didn't think it would be a problem. That was just one time. I've seen people get away with a lot worse than that all year long. I just don't understand it. I just don't agree with it. And I don't feel the Hollywood team deserved what happened. It's a real shame."
"We did our best today with a race car that did not do too well in traffic. The car's sensitivity in turbulence has been something we have been trying to overcome on race days and that's why we thought it might be worth trying the Dallara chassis a few races ago. But I think we are committed to the (Panoz) G Force for the rest of the season and we need to continue working to make it a better race car for us. The Pioneer crew did a great job on the pit stops. We gained positions every time. You can't ask for better than that."