Felipe Giaffone ...
#21 Hollywood/Mo Nunn Racing Chevrolet G-Force
Felipe Giaffone and the #21 Hollywood/Mo Nunn Racing Chevrolet G-Force made a valiant bid for the win in today's 86th Indianapolis 500 before settling for a third-place finish. Giaffone started fourth and ran with the leaders throughout the day. He led four times for a total of 11 laps, the last three from Lap 174-176 before pitting a final time for a splash of fuel under yellow. He resumed in third place but chased down Paul Tracy for second place and was about to pass Helio Castroneves for the lead on Lap 197 when he was held up by the lapped car of Dario Franchitti, Tracy's teammate. Giaffone lost momentum at that point and Tracy regained second place. The race ended under caution after an accident on the very next lap involving Buddy Lazier and Laurent Redon, just a lap-and-a-half from the finish. Castroneves went on to win for the second year in a row with Tracy finishing second just ahead of Giaffone.
Meanwhile, Tony Kanaan and the #17 Hollywood/Mo Nunn Racing Chevrolet G-Force took control of today's race from the opening laps, but the 27-year-old Brazilian's bid to be the third consecutive rookie race winner here came to an end just 89 laps into the 200-lap event when he spun in another car's oil and made contact with the outside wall at Turn Three. The fastest rookie qualifier in the 33-car field, and the fastest car during final Carburetion Day practice on Thursday, Kanaan started fifth and gradually worked his way into the lead by Lap 64. He led twice for a total of 23 laps and was in the lead when the car of Bruno Junqueira had motor trouble and subsequently spewed oil onto the track at Turn Three. Kanaan spun in the oil when he arrived in Turn Three, hit the wall and damaged the car beyond repair. He was not hurt in the accident. Kanaan clocked the third-fastest lap of the race at 226.123 mph. He placed 27th.
The 2002 Indy Race League resumes with a Saturday-night race on June 8 at Texas Motor Speedway in Forth Worth.
"Right now, third place is really disappointing. But maybe that will change over time. I really thought I had the best car out there today. The Hollywood/Mo Nunn team did an excellent job keeping me up front. I had a little bit of a push early in the race, which we corrected. Then I was a little bit too loose in my second stint. By the third pit stop, we got the car just right and I knew I had a chance to win. Unfortunately, I fell victim to a little teamwork there at the end with Dario helping out Paul. But that's his job, I guess. I was on my way to pass Helio and then all of a sudden there was Dario, and I lost all my momentum. I got high on the track, where the car pushed just a little bit, and Paul was able to get by me. I'm 99 percent sure I would have won the race if Dario wouldn't have been in the wrong place at the wrong time. I'm just thankful to my team. I 've had a good car at every race all season, and we're in a strong position in the championship."
"Well, considering this is our first Indy 500 as a team, I guess it's nice to leave here with a third-place finish. We definitely expected to run as strongly as we did, especially after the first week of practice here and our qualifying effort. It's a pity what happened to Tony. But that's racing. Everybody did such a great job and I'm sure Tony's feeling bad about what happened. But I hope someday soon this all becomes a positive memory for him. As for Felipe, he's disappointed, too, that he didn't get the win. But we got third place and we have to accept that graciously. After that first week of practice, we knew we would have competitive cars and that both our drivers had a good chance to win the race. Hey, we're newcomers to the IRL and we had a strong showing. There were maybe a couple of question marks that we erased today, and I know a year from now we're going to be that much stronger and that much more confident here."