IRL: Felipe Giaffone, Mark Taylor press conference, Part II

Indy Racing League Weekly Teleconference Feb. 11, 2003 Felipe Giaffone, Mark Taylor Part 2 of 2 - Felipe Giaffone Johson: Now let's welcome IndyCar Series driver, Felipe Gaiffone. Good morning, Felipe. Felipe Giaffone: Good ...

Indy Racing League
Weekly Teleconference
Feb. 11, 2003

Felipe Giaffone, Mark Taylor

Part 2 of 2 - Felipe Giaffone

Johson: Now let's welcome IndyCar Series driver, Felipe Gaiffone. Good morning, Felipe.

Felipe Giaffone: Good morning.

Johson: Brief background. Felipe was the 2001 Bombardier Rookie of the Year and earned his first IRL IndyCar Series victory last season at Kentucky Speedway en route to finishing fourth in the 2002 IndyCar Series point standings. Felipe is joining us from Daytona Beach this morning where he is getting ready to begin his initial preparation in the True Value IROC Series. Felipe, first let's look back on the recent Test in the West where you recorded the fastest speed at California Speedway and were among the top speeds at Phoenix. Tell us your thoughts on the test as well as for Hollywood Mo Nunn Racing as you head into the 2003 IndyCar Series season.

Giaffone: I think we are-- I am very surprised, you know. Because we have not tested that much yet and we have done-- I have done like, at least like a day and a half at Homestead before we go to the Test in the West. First time out, you know, in the Test in the West at (Inaudible) the car was feeling pretty good already, so I have a really good feeling with the package, you know with Mo Nunn and Toyota and also G Force. I think the G Force did a good job there and also the same for Toyota, I think was-- It seems that we have the right package in our hands, and I will have to see what it is going to happen at the race.

Johson: You referred to your chassis engine package. Tell us what you can from a driver's standpoint about the new chassis and engine packages for the IndyCar Series this season.

Giaffone: They made a few changes in the cars. I think the car is safer, which is good. I mean IRL, it is always thinking in the safety point of (Inaudible), which makes us a lot more comfortable, you know, to be driving in those ovals. But basically the length in the front of the car it is a little bigger. You have a little bit more room for your legs. And I think like from the G Force point of view and Dallara, I think they-- Last year we were say a little-- We had a little bit too much downforce for the big tracks with the G Force, and the Dallara seems to be a little better. So they both-- They both work for different directions, you know, throughout for the new car. And I think what happened with the G Force, maybe we have a little bit less downforce. But it is too good. I think Dallara (Inaudible) made the work in to take some out and G Force needs to add a little bit more. So it is going to be very similar. The chassis this year, I think, they are more like similar than last year. I think last year we still have a little bit more with the G Force.

Johson: Now let's open the forum for questions from our media.

Q: First, Felipe, your thoughts about driving a stock car this weekend.

Giaffone: Well, I find out in a few hours, I think. I have not been in the car yet. I know it is going to be a tough weekend for me. We're on Tuesday, and I am racing on Friday, and I have not driven both cars yet in my whole life, any type of stock cars or anything like this. It is going to be a huge learning curve for me. You know it is going to be different. Unfortunately, I cannot say anything so far, but I am looking forward to do it.

Q: Have you talked to any of the other IndyCar (Series) drivers that have driven in the True Value IROC Series and try to get some advice or just some idea of what to expect?

Giaffone: Yes, I mean just when I had the invitation, you know, from IROC, I was very pleased to have it, you know. And then I called (Helio) Castroneves right away, you know, and said, "OK, how is it?" And he had a great time. I think one of the greatest things is that you do not have any like, you do not have your personal sponsor with you. You do not have to do pretty much anything, you just come and have fun, you know. This is the most important. It is different from what we are used to where you have all the pressure, you know -- the sponsor, the team behind you. So here it is just different. I mean it is going to be a different racing, as well, and they told me they would have to learn a lot, how to play with the draft. And I know it is going to be hard for me.

Q: Nervous. Are you nervous?

Giaffone: Sorry, yes. No, no, not really. I think we are just-- I just drove. I mean, I am leaving Orlando. I drove in this morning, you know, to (Inaudible) I am not. I do not have any-- I think just because I do not have to prove anything this series, you know. I am just going to try to go out and do my best. To (Inaudible) right now I am not nervous, but maybe before I get in the car for the first time I will be a little bit.

Q: And a couple of questions, if I may, on the upcoming season. Was there anything that since you had your rookie year, you won a race in your rookie year -- During the offseason, did you think about things that you have learned and how antsy were you to get back into the car and try to capitalize on the starts that you had last year?

Giaffone: I think my winter was too long for me, you know. First time we started testing at Homestead in January, so it was almost like three months without driving, you know. But I know, I mean being with (Inaudible) and knowing him after full year, you know, I know he is always working to find the best package, you know. He knows how important it is to have the good engine and the good chassis and good engine (Inaudible), you know. But yes, I have been thinking, you know, how the season is going very strong and how things change it, as well. That is the most funny part, is just all of a sudden I am racing against the guys that I really wish to race with a few years ago.

Q: Yes, because this is a totally different season this year in IndyCar (Series) racing with the new names that have come onboard.

Giaffone: Yes, it is going to be like Indianapolis last year, you know, with all those drivers. It is going to be a lot more competitive, as well.

Johson: Felipe, what will make the upcoming 2003 IndyCar Series season a success for you?

Giaffone: I think to be a success, to succeed here in IRL you have to finish most of the races. You have to be trouble-free, I would say, with, even with crashes and failures and-- It has to be a very smooth year, you know. If you look at the past two years, at least whoever won the championship, in the case was Sam last year with his (Inaudible), as well. Out of 15 races, they finished at least like I would say 10 or 12, top five or top six, you know. So you have to finish those races and finish well in order to win the championship. So you have basically to be very consistent in any type of track. Like in the big ovals and small ovals and like 1.3 or even Homestead, the medium ovals, you have to be strong in all of them.

Q: I wanted to ask you, you know you finished sixth your first year, Rookie of the Year, last year you moved up to fourth. Can you make with Mo Nunn your second year make that big jump from four spots and really win this championship, do you think?

Giaffone: That is what we are looking for, you know. That is my goal. I think I have two goals in my career right now, which is win Indianapolis, which we came very close last year, and winning the championship. I think this is what we all want to achieve, I think, as a driver in the Indy Racing League. I think we have the right package, and I really feel comfortable with the team now with my second year. I have a new engineer, which is Iain Watt that he worked with Tony (Kanaan) last year in CART. And he worked with Tony, as well, in Indianapolis, and we are getting along very well. And it seems to work good so far.

Q: Tell me, what is it like working with Mo Nunn? What makes him such a, seems to be able to bring the best out of drivers?

Giaffone: Well Morris is-- It is a big guy, you know. So he really goes in the details. He does not care, I mean, if he thinks that you as a driver are missing something or losing, doing anything wrong, not even-- I mean that is not the most important, not just as a driver but also as a team, you know. So he wants to make sure that the driver is giving 100 percent, is putting 100 percent effort, you know, and the team, as well. I think to win a race or to win the championship you have to-- I mean it is not only (Inaudible), you know. You have to be liked, as well. But a big part of that is to be strong as a team. I mean, it is not a driver or it is not an engineer or it is not a mechanic side. I think you have to manage to put all together, and it seems that he knows how to do it very well.

Q: Thank you. Good luck.

Giaffone: Thank you. It was good to talk to you.

Johson: Well Felipe, we thank you for joining us this morning and certainly wish you the best of luck in this week's True Value IROC event.

Giaffone: Thank you. Thanks a lot.

Part I


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Series IndyCar
Drivers Mark Taylor , Felipe Giaffone , Mo Nunn