IRL: Homestead: Mo Nunn Racing race report

Giaffone opens with ninth at Homestead opener; Takagi 12th. HOMESTEAD, Fla. (Sunday, March 2, 2003) -- Mo Nunn Racing teammates Felipe Giaffone and Tora Takagi capped a grueling opening weekend of the IRL IndyCar Series season with solid runs in...

Giaffone opens with ninth at Homestead opener; Takagi 12th.

HOMESTEAD, Fla. (Sunday, March 2, 2003) -- Mo Nunn Racing teammates Felipe Giaffone and Tora Takagi capped a grueling opening weekend of the IRL IndyCar Series season with solid runs in today's Toyota Indy 300 on the Homestead Miami Speedway 1.5-mile oval.

Giaffone and the #21 Hollywood/Mo Nunn Racing Toyota-powered Panoz G Force came home ninth today from the 15th starting position, despite clutch problems.

Takagi and the #12 Pioneer/Mo Nunn Racing team car started 14th and finished 12th today with a relatively consistent run of his own.

Giaffone and Takagi gradually worked their way up in the order through the first two rounds of pit stops during the 200-lap event. Both were in the top 10 -- Takagi in ninth and Giaffone in 10th -- by Lap 141, midway through their third fuel-and-tire run. Both stopped a third and final time under yellow on Lap 146. Giaffone got by Takagi on Lap 162, swapping positions with his teammate, and he held that position the rest of the way as the first car to finish one lap off the pace. Takagi, meanwhile, developed slight handling problems during that final run and lost positions to defending series champion Sam Hornish and former champion Kenny Brack.

Scott Dixon was today's winner and was followed across the finish line by Gil de Ferran and Helio Castroneves. The next IRL IndyCar Series event is in three weeks (March 23) on the mile oval at Phoenix International Raceway.

FELIPE GIAFFONE

"Well, we turned out to have a pretty decent race car. After the kind of weekend we had in practice and qualifying, it just goes to show you that you don't always know what to expect on Sunday. It's a shame that I lost my clutch on our first pit stop and stalled the car. That cost us. But on my second (fuel-and-tire) run and my last (fourth fuel-and-tire) run, my car was pretty quick. I was having a lot of fun there passing fast cars, like (Tomas) Scheckter and Dario (Franchitti) on my last run. Too bad they were both a lap ahead of me and did not gain any positions. I think we have to leave here pretty satisfied with our result after all we had to go through this weekend. It's encouraging that the same combination we are racing (Toyota-powered Panoz G Force) went on the win the race. They (race-winner Scott Dixon's team) did something we still need to figure out. These cars are so sensitive, I'm willing to bet that it might be something fairly small."

TORA TAKAGI

"I feel good about how the day went, except for my last run. I was racing for a top-10 finish and we were in 10th after our last pit stop. My tire pressures were not right for the conditions during that run, and a couple of cars passed me for position. But for right now, for the first race, I will take the 12th position and hopefully we will have a good weekend the next time. I am very happy with the Pioneer team. It is a very professional organization. There was good preparation. And all of our pit stops were good."

-mnr-

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Felipe Giaffone , Helio Castroneves , Gil de Ferran , Scott Dixon , Tora Takagi , Kenny Brack , Mo Nunn , Sam Hornis