JOLIET, Ill. (Wednesday, Aug. 27, 2003) -- Felipe Giaffone, injured in a racing accident at Kansas Speedway on July 6, returned to the cockpit of the ...
JOLIET, Ill. (Wednesday, Aug. 27, 2003) -- Felipe Giaffone, injured in a racing accident at Kansas Speedway on July 6, returned to the cockpit of the #21 Hollywood/Mo Nunn Racing Toyota-powered Panoz G Force, joining teammate Tora Takagi and the #12 Pioneer/Mo Nunn Racing Toyota-powered Dallara today for the first of two days of testing at Chicagoland Speedway.
Giaffone, who had surgery July 7 at Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis to repair the broken right femur and pelvis he suffered after contact with Dan Wheldon and, subsequently, the Turn 2 wall at Kansas, drove some 200 trouble-free miles today and clocked a fast lap of 25.02 seconds around the 1.5-mile high-speed tri-oval. He plans to continue testing Thursday, and then return to race weekend action here for the Sept. 5-7 Delphi Indy 300.
Takagi, meanwhile, put in his first day of testing ever on a high-speed oval with the Dallara chassis he debuted at Gateway Raceway near St. Louis on Sept. 10 after racing a Panoz G Force chassis at the first 10 events in this, his first season on the IRL IndyCar Series circuit. Takagi also put in some 200 trouble-free miles and reached a fast lap of 25.1 seconds. He, too, will continue testing on Thursday.
"It feels really good to be back in the Hollywood car. I might be a little bit sore in the morning since I haven't driven in seven and a half weeks. But today, after a couple of runs, I was back where I think I should be. When I started out this morning, the car was a little bit too neutral. My first time in, we made some changes, and then I was flat all the way around. Of course, in the beginning, you just have to go and do it and not think about all that you've been through. But then, after a few runs, it was back to business. I didn't feel a thing as far as my arms and my left leg are concerned. We made a few adjustments with my seat to accommodate my right leg, so that took a little time to get used to. I think today was actually better than I expected. All the G-forces on my right leg weren't an issue at all. We put plenty of padding there. At the end of the day, my right leg was a little bit fatigued when I was on the throttle for so long, but it wasn't that bad. Even before the accident, I would help my right foot push on the throttle with my left foot, and I did that today. So I definitely think I'll be alright in time for the race. We're a couple of tenths off the pace for qualifying, but we have the car really good and comfortable for race conditions."
"We had a really productive day when you consider this is the first time we have had the chance to test the Dallara on the superspeedway. We spent the day just going through all the fundamental things that we haven't been able to go through with this car in a test situation. We were able to accomplish a lot. We didn't really find the type of speed from some of the things we tried, but that wasn't really our objective today. It was just a pure test day. We'll do the same things tomorrow, and then we will be ready to start the race weekend properly when we come back next week."