2004 IndyCar Preview: Mo Nunn Racing Takagi Gains Experience From Each Race INDIANAPOLIS, Thursday, Jan. 8, 2004 --Pioneer Mo Nunn Racing driver Tora Takagi called the 2003 IRL IndyCarÂ® Series season a learning experience. As he enters the 2004...
2004 IndyCar Preview: Mo Nunn Racing
Takagi Gains Experience From Each Race
INDIANAPOLIS, Thursday, Jan. 8, 2004 --Pioneer Mo Nunn Racing driver Tora Takagi called the 2003 IRL IndyCar® Series season a learning experience. As he enters the 2004 season, he hopes he can graduate into the role of a consistent contender.
The native of Shizuoka, Japan, scored nine top-10 finishes in his first year in the series, and was named the Bank One Rookie of the Year at the 87th Indianapolis 500 after finishing fifth. Many of the key faces are back with team this season, a fact that Takagi believes will further his development.
"We earned the Rookie of the Year award at the Indy 500, even though the track was new to me," said Takagi, who finished a season-best third at the first Texas race in June. "I had only a small amount of on-track experience at Homestead and Phoenix during testing, and Motegi, Texas, Michigan and Fontana in 2001-2002. We had such short time to learn the track at each race and the car was new for everybody. Now we are facing a new season with most of the same faces on my team. Nothing is more important than continuity in racing."
Team owner Morris Nunn is confident that Takagi can be among the top drivers in the IndyCar Series.
"With almost 10 different race winners last year, the 2004 season is wide open and is going to be very, very competitive," Nunn said. "We have great confidence that we will be in the championship hunt and expect a strong finish beginning at Homestead."
Takagi had success in Open Testing at Homestead-Miami Speedway, but suffered mechanical setbacks at Phoenix International Raceway. Still, Nunn beleives the testing sessions were a success for his second-year IndyCar Series program.
"Over the past few weeks, we've spent a great deal of time tweaking the car in Miami and Phoenix to learn what it takes to make the Dallara more competitive," he said. "While I'd always prefer more testing rather than less, we're ready."
Capsule look at Pioneer Mo Nunn Racing
Sponsors: Pioneer, Toyota, Denso, Togo Seisakusho Corporation., Takagi Industrial, Tamachi Industries
Car number: 12
Owner: Morris Nunn
Driver: Toranosuke Takagi
Team manager: Peter Parrott
Crew chief: Don Lambert
Engineer: Iain Watt
Morris Nunn: "Everyone on our team has high expectations this season. In his rookie year, Tora displayed a tremendous amount of skill in quickly adapting to many different types of new circuits, including his great performance at the Speedway during the month of May. With nine-top 10 finishes in '03, we look forward to building upon this early success."
Tora Takagi: "We are facing a new season with most of the same faces on my team. Nothing is more important than continuity in racing. For us, 2003 was a year of building up new relationships with each other. The results from Homestead Open Test indicated that we are headed in the right direction as far as continuity concerned."
The 2004 IRL IndyCar Series season begins with the Toyota Indy 300 at 2 p.m. (EST) on Feb. 29, 2004, at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The race will be broadcast live on ESPN and the IMS Radio Network.