Barron spins and wins Firestone Indy 400; Takagi Ffinishes sixth BROOKLYN, Mich. (Sunday, July 27, 2003) -- Alex Barron, subbing for the injured Felipe Giaffone in the ...
Barron spins and wins Firestone Indy 400; Takagi Ffinishes sixth
BROOKLYN, Mich. (Sunday, July 27, 2003) -- Alex Barron, subbing for the injured Felipe Giaffone in the #21 Hollywood/Mo Nunn Racing Toyota-powered Panoz G Force for the second weekend in a row, scored his second career IRL IndyCar Series victory at today's Firestone Indy 400 at Michigan Speedway. Teammate Tora Takagi and the #12 Pioneer/Mo Nunn Racing Toyota-powered Panoz G Force came in sixth.
Barron waged a thrilling battle with two-time defending series champion Sam Hornish, Jr., in the closing laps and crossed the finish line a mere 0.121 seconds for the fourth-closest margin of victory in series history. Ironically, Barron battled back from a Lap 164 spin after slight contact with Tomas Scheckter in Turns 3 and 4 while battling with Scheckter and Hornish for the lead. Barron led six times for a total of 24 laps in the 200-lap event around the 2-mile tri-oval in winning first the first time since the 2002 event at Nashville while driving for Blair Racing. It was Barron's fourth series start this season. He subbed for the injured Gil de Ferran at Japan's Twin Ring Motegi in April. He subbed for the injured Arie Luyendyk in the #20 Meijer/Mo Nunn Racing Toyota-powered Panoz G Force at the Indy 500 in May, where he was the fastest Bump Day qualifier and went on the finish sixth from the 25th starting position. And last weekend at Nashville, Barron took over for Giaffone, who fractured his right femur and pelvis in a racing accident July 6 at Kansas Speedway. Giaffone, who scored Hollywood/Mo Nunn Racing's first IRL IndyCar Series victory last August at Kentucky Speedway, is targeting his return for the Sept. 7 Chicagoland event.
Today, Barron started sixth but lost ground in the early stages of the race, falling back to 14th by Lap 14. He worked his way up to eighth when the first round of pit stops began on Lap 39. He first pitted on Lap 45 and fell back to ninth place, where he found himself again after a Lap 60 pit stop under yellow. Barron worked his way into the top five by the race's mid-point, but re-emerged in eighth after his third pit stop under green on Lap 113. Again, he worked his way into the top five by Lap 132, and was battling to stay in the lead when on Lap 164, the contact with Scheckter occurred, sending Barron into a spin. He did not contact the wall or any other cars and pitted on Lap 166 for new tires and a splash of fuel and resumed in eighth place. By lap 171, Barron moved up to third, then into second on Lap 173. He stayed in the top four the rest of the way and retook the lead from Hornish on Lap 190. The two traded the lead five times over the final 10 laps. Hornish had it on Laps 196 to 199, but Barron got a solid run off of Turn Four and just got a nose ahead of Hornish across the finish line. Hornish was debuting Chevrolet's all-new Cosworth-prepared engine here this weekend.
Takagi started 11th and also was shuffled backward in the early laps, finding himself in 17th by Lap 17. But he worked his back into the top 10 and was as high as second behind Barron when he pitted for the first time on Lap 45, then resumed in 11th. He picked up positions on his second stop under yellow on Lap 60 and was up in ninth, then back into the top five by his third pit stop under green on Lap 111, after which he resumed in sixth. Takagi made his final full fuel-and-tire stop on Lap 147 under yellow, resuming in seventh place, and then got as high as third after a final splash of fuel only under yellow on Lap 166. He was shuffled back to eighth by Lap 175, but picked up two positions in the closing laps for his sixth-place finish.
After a weekend off, the next stop on the tour is at Gateway Raceway outside St. Louis on Aug. 10, kicking off a back-to-back-to-back stretch of races that also passes through Kentucky Speedway (Aug. 17) and Nazareth Speedway (Aug. 24).
"That was pretty dramatic, to say the least. It was a great day for everyone involved with the Hollywood program. I hope Felipe (Giaffone) is proud of his team because it was a superb effort on everyone's part. I got pretty upset in the car when I spun. (Tomas) Scheckter came down on me and we touched and fortunately I was able to keep the car together without bending anything. The team settled me back down and I just put my head down and went back to work. I knew I had a great car all day, and it was just a matter of picking my spots and working my way back to the front. It was a great battle to the finish. Five laps before the end, I crossed the finish line ahead of (Sam) Hornish, and I knew then that that's the way I wanted to do it on the final lap. I got a good run out of Turn Four and stayed with it all the way to the finish line. It was an unbelievable race, and a great win for the team and for Morris (Nunn) and for Felipe."
"I think we did a good job of finishing sixth considering it was not one of our best weekends of the year, unfortunately. I guess you can't expect to be the best out there every single week. We just couldn't find the speed we wanted in practice and qualifying. And today I think maybe we ran with a little too much downforce because it was difficult to keep up with the leaders on the straightaways. I guess things could have been a lot worse. But a good team finds ways to overcome problems when they happen. I'm looking forward to a week off before we go to St. Louis. We will be ready."