Heartbreaking 18th for Takagi at Kentucky; Barron out early SPARTA, Ky. (Sunday, Aug. 17, 2003) -- One year after Mo Nunn Racing's first-ever IRL IndyCar Series victory by Felipe Giaffone at the Belterra Casino Indy 300 at Kentucky Speedway,...
Heartbreaking 18th for Takagi at Kentucky; Barron out early
SPARTA, Ky. (Sunday, Aug. 17, 2003) -- One year after Mo Nunn Racing's first-ever IRL IndyCar Series victory by Felipe Giaffone at the Belterra Casino Indy 300 at Kentucky Speedway, 2003 teammates Mo Nunn Racing teammates Tora Takagi and Alex Barron had to endure a tough afternoon of racing with an injured Giaffone looking on at the 1.5-mile tri-oval.
Takagi started 12th and worked his way solidly into the top 10 after his first pit stop on Lap 60 in his two-race-old #12 Pioneer/Mo Nunn Racing Toyota-powered Dallara chassis. He led twice for a total of 10 laps heading to his second scheduled fuel-and-tire stop targeted for Lap 122. But the car ran out of fuel on course during that lap and stopped at the pit lane entrance. By the time the Pioneer crew pushed the car to the pit box, filled it up and changed four tires, Takagi had lost four laps on the stop and resumed five laps down to the leaders in 19th place.
He was already one lap down heading for that ill-fated stop, as was just about all of the rest of the field, by the 200-lap race's mid-point. Takagi ran competitive laps the rest of the way, stopping a final time under the race's only caution period on Lap 152. He picked up one position and gained one of his laps back to finish 18th, four laps down. This weekend was only the second for Takagi's new Dallara chassis, which he debuted last weekend with a seventh-place finish at Gateway Raceway near St. Louis after running a Panoz G Force chassis at the first 10 events.
Barron, replacing Giaffone for the fourth race in a row after the regular Mo Nunn Racing driver's July 6 accident at Kansas Speedway, started 17th and also had a stellar drive in the early stages of the race to work his way solidly into the top 10 by his first pit stop on Lap 59. He was running in seventh position, one lap down, when he reported the #21 Hollywood/Mo Nunn Racing Toyota-powered Panoz G Force had lost power and pitted on Lap 105. The Hollywood crew attempted to restart the car when a problem with the fuel pump drive was discovered, forcing Barron's early retirement.
Two-time-defending series champion Sam Hornish, Jr., back in the all-new Chevy Gen IV engine for the first time since Barron and the Hollywood car beat him and the Gen IV at Michigan late last month, won from the pole today and led 181 laps. Scott Dixon finished second and Bryan Herta was third. The top three finishers were the only drivers to finish on the lead lap today.
The next stop on the 2003 IRL IndyCar Series tour is next weekend (Aug. 22-24) at the Nazareth Speedway mile oval in Pennsylvania for the Firestone Indy 225.
"The Pioneer team gave me probably the best race car that I've had in a while, but something happened during our second run that caused us to run out of fuel. I don't know if it's because we didn't get all of the fuel into the car that we wanted to on our first pit stop. Or maybe the car was using more fuel during that second stint. Whatever the reason, it definitely cost us a top finish because I had a very good car. It felt good to be able to pass cars until the end of the race. I think we were running very competitive laps. It's too bad, what happened, but to be positive, I think we are doing better and better with the Dallara. This was only our second race with it. It should be good on the small oval at Nazareth next week."
"We had the car right where we wanted it for the race. It felt better than it had all weekend and I thought we were going to be able to hang with the leaders. The balance was really good. Unfortunately, our fuel pump let go and put us out of the race. That's the way it goes. We were a little bit behind after yesterday because we were struggling in practice and qualifying. But this team shows it lives for race day because I definitely felt we were competitive. We just weren't able to find out how competitive. We'll get 'em next week on the small oval."