Barron qualifies sixth, Takagi 11th for Firestone Indy 400 BROOKLYN, Mich. (Saturday, July 26, 2003) -- Alex Barron will start Sunday's Firestone Indy 400 from the outside of the third row while Mo Nunn Racing teammate Tora Takagi will start...
Barron qualifies sixth, Takagi 11th for Firestone Indy 400
BROOKLYN, Mich. (Saturday, July 26, 2003) -- Alex Barron will start Sunday's Firestone Indy 400 from the outside of the third row while Mo Nunn Racing teammate Tora Takagi will start from the inside of the sixth row after single-car qualifying today around the Michigan Speedway 2-mile tri-oval.
Barron, subbing for the injured Felipe Giaffone for the second weekend in a row, drove the #21 Hollywood/Mo Nunn Racing Toyota-powered Panoz G Force to a fast qualifying lap of 32.5222 seconds (221.387 mph), sixth-fastest in the 21-car field. Giaffone, undergoing rehabilitation in his native Brazil after fracturing his right femur and pelvis in a racing accident at Kansas Speedway July 6, is targeting his return for the Sept. 7 Chicagoland race. Barron qualified sixth and finished fifth last Saturday night at Nashville Superspeedway in the Hollywood car. At this year's 87th Indy 500, Barron was the fastest Bump Day qualifier subbing the for the injured Arie Luyendyk in the #20 Meijer/Mo Nunn Racing Toyota-powered Panoz G Force and finished sixth from the 25th starting position.
Takagi and the #12 Pioneer/Mo Nunn Racing Toyota-powered Panoz G Force recorded a fast qualifying lap of 32.7036 seconds (220.159 mph) for the 11th spot on the starting grid. That ended his three-race streak of qualifying third. Takagi qualified third at Nashville last Saturday night, the fifth time he had qualified third this season, and finished seventh. His best finish this season was third at Texas Motor Speedway in June. Takagi qualified third here at Michigan Speedway in the 2001 CART series event while driving for Walker Racing.
Tomas Scheckter, last year's polesitter and race-winner here, once again earned the pole with a fast lap of 32.3657 seconds (222.458 mph). Sitting alongside him on the front row is his teammate, Scott Dixon, who was the pole-winner at the previous three events this season, after a fast lap today of 32.3704 seconds (222.425 mph). Helio Castroneves qualified third in 32.4393 seconds (221.953 mph) and he'll be joined on the second row by two-time-defending IRL IndyCar Series champion Sam Hornish, Jr., who turned a fast qualifying lap of 32.4563 seconds (221.837 mph) debuting the all-new Chevrolet Gen IV engine produced by Cosworth. Al Unser, Jr., grabbed the fifth spot on the grid with a fast lap of 32.5108 seconds (221.465 mph).
"We were probably a tenth of a second from where we really wanted to be in qualifying, which would have put us maybe third on the grid. But overall we're close enough to the front for a 400-mile race to be able to run with the leaders. I know for sure that the Hollywood car is a good race car in traffic. We made good progress with the car since the start of practice. Initially, it was a little out of balance, but we made some significant changes yesterday and this morning and now we're basically fine-tuning. We didn't test here like a lot of teams did so we started out maybe a little behind the eight-ball. But I think the Hollywood/Mo Nunn team has done a great job giving me a competitive race car. Now it's a matter of going the distance and staying up front."
"It's a little bit disappointing to be starting 11th after we have had so much success in qualifying at the last several races. But this is one race where we can get away with it. It is very important to have a good race car on this track. If you don't it can be a very long day. Once again, we will compare our data with my teammate's (Alex Barron) and see what we have to do to be able to fight our way to the front. It really hurt us to have to practice yesterday with the slower group of cars. We have to do something about that by getting a great result here tomorrow. I have to be confident that we'll get it."