Felipe Giaffone ...
#21 Hollywood/Mo Nunn Racing Chevrolet G-Force
Felipe Giaffone and the #21 Hollywood/Mo Nunn Racing Chevrolet G-Force will start the 86th Indianapolis 500 from the inside of the second row after posting a Pole Day qualifying four-lap average of 230.326 mph today. The 27-year-old Giaffone, who started 33rd in his first career Indy 500 last season, was the second qualifier today and posted laps of 230.030 mph, 230.392 mph, 230.517 mph, and 230.635 mph. Ironically, the first driver to make an attempt today, Bruno Junqueira, earned the pole with a four-lap average of 231.342 mph. Giaffone, who finished 10th in last year's Indy 500 enroute to 2001 Indy Racing League Rookie of the Year honors, hung onto the second spot on this year's grid until Brazilian countryman Raul Boesel posted a 230.613-mph qualifying run some two hours and 15 qualifying attempts later. Then, Robbie Buhl stormed into the second spot with a 231.033-mph qualifying run that bumped Boesel to third and Giaffone to fourth.
Giaffone's teammate Tony Kanaan will start alongside him in the middle of the second row. Kanaan and the #17 Hollywood/Mo Nunn Racing Chevrolet G-Force earned the fifth starting spot with a four-lap average of 230.253 mph. His four laps were 230.314 mph, 230.381 mph, 230.260 mph, and 230.057 mph, but not before an aborted qualifying run during which a light drizzle dampened the track. Kanaan was not charged with the first qualifying attempt, despite posting three qualifying laps, and after a 39-minute rain delay, he was allowed by IRL officials to re-attempt his initial qualifying run.
Qualifying is slated to resume at noon local time (1 p.m. EDT) Sunday. All positions earned today are essentially locked into place on the starting grid.
"This year has been very good so far. Every day has been good, except for the fact we struggled a bit the last two days of practice and that made us a little more anxious than you would like to be. But I knew after going 230 yesterday afternoon that I had a good car. I've got to hand it to the crew for doing such a good job of giving me a good car. I was able to go flat out on every (qualifying) lap. I knew we didn't have a pole car, but it was going to be solid in the field. We were willing to take anything higher than 228 mph. That was our goal for today. So at 230, it's obvious that we are very happy. Both of our cars were very consistent today. All eight of our qualifying laps, between Tony and me, were in the 230s. That's a real credit to the team, and to Morris and the engineers for giving us the best equipment possible. Now we can concentrate on the race. I'm feeling very relieved, and I'm also feeling very confident for the race. I can't wait to get back to work."
"I'm very proud of the work the guys have put in, and the job the drivers did. Considering the short amount of time we've spent here at the Speedway ... essentially not having run here until last Sunday ... and the little problems we had to overcome during the week, I would have been happy with something somewhere in the top three rows today. A top-10 result was the goal. But both of our cars are in the top five. You have to hand it to the guys on this team, which people have to realize is a very, very new team. This is only our fifth IRL race, and we've only been in business for less than three years. Now, looking back and being as obviously competitive as we are, it would have been nice to be on the front row, or on the pole. But with just one week here to get it done, and the fact that we are so new at this as a team, that might have been a bit optimistic. At any rate, it's great to be here as a team owner and having had the kind of week we did the very first time out. We can feel good about our efforts this week, but then we'll have to come back and focus on finishing the job on race day. It's a long race and anything can happen. I've got two very confident drivers. Right now, we're pretty high on emotion, so let's see if we can carry it on through to the checkered flag. I'm never confident until I see that car come around that last turn on the last lap and make it all the way across the start-finish line!"