Takagi qualifies third, Giaffone's sub Barron sixth at Nashville NASHVILLE (Friday, July 18, 2003) -- Tora Takagi and the ...
Takagi qualifies third, Giaffone's sub Barron sixth at Nashville
NASHVILLE (Friday, July 18, 2003) -- Tora Takagi and the #12 Pioneer/Mo Nunn Racing Toyota-powered Panoz G Force qualified third for the third race in a row while his new teammate Alex Barron, the defending race-winner here who is subbing for the injured Felipe Giaffone in the #21 Hollywood/Mo Nunn Racing Toyota-powered Panoz G Force, qualified sixth for Saturday night's Firestone Indy 200.
It was the fifth top-three qualifying effort of the season for Takagi, who circled the 1.33-mile Nashville Superspeedway concrete oval in 22.8236 seconds (205.051 mph) on his best qualifying lap. Takagi also qualified third at Japan's Twin Ring Motegi in April, at Texas Motor Speedway in early June, and at the back-to-back Richmond and Kansas Speedway events leading up to this weekend's race. His best finish to date was third place at Texas.
Barron, who subbed for injured Meijer/Mo Nunn Racing driver Arie Luyendyk at this year's Indy 500, took over for Giaffone this weekend after the regular Hollywood driver sustained a fractured right femur and pelvis during the Kansas Indy 300 two weekends ago. Barron turned a fast qualifying lap today of 22.9029 seconds (204.341 mph), good for the outside-third-row starting spot for Saturday's night's race. Barron won this event from the fifth starting position last July while driving for Blair Racing. It was his first IRL IndyCar Series victory. He was the fastest Bump Day qualifier in the #20 Meijer/Mo Nunn Racing Toyota-powered Panoz G Force at Indy, started from the 25th spot on the grid and went on to finish sixth. In April, Barron subbed for the injured Gil de Ferran at Motegi.
Scott Dixon earned the pole position today with a fast lap of 22.6952 seconds (206.211 mph) and will be joined on the front row by Helio Castroneves, who qualified in 22.7916 seconds (205.339 mph). Just ahead of Barron, it's de Ferran in the fourth starting spot after a fast lap of 22.8281 seconds (205.010 mph), followed by Tomas Scheckter in the fifth position by virtue of his 22.8871-second (204.482-mph) qualifying lap.
Race time Saturday is 7 p.m. local time (8 p.m. EDT) with a live broadcast set to begin with the 30-minute pre-race IRL2DAY show at 7:30 p.m. EDT.
"Here we are in the third starting position again, which means that the whole Pioneer team is doing a great job, just like they have all year. We have had a good qualifying car almost every weekend. So we came here more focused than ever on making sure we have a good car for the race. We had a very productive open test when we worked totally on race setup. I think we should have a good race car Saturday night."
"It's amazing that I'm here talking about qualifying in the top six. It's been less than 72 hours since we announced that I was going to be here driving Felipe's (Giaffone's) car. Everything's been great so far. We had a little hiccup at the end of the second practice today but we got that fixed and the Hollywood car did its job during my qualifying run. We didn't get quite as much qualifying speed as we would have liked, but I think we'll be in great shape for tomorrow night. That's the most important thing. There's been no problem getting accustomed to working with the Hollywood/Mo Nunn team. They're a bunch of experienced guys and we have a history together that goes all the way back to Indy. It's only my third race of the season, but the consistency has been that the Toyota-powered (Panoz) G Force package is the only one I've had to deal with this year and it seems to be the best thing going. It's a proven package and it's won quite a few races this year. We hope to add the latest one tomorrow night. The key will be to stay in the event all night long. People try to pass here and there isn't always room to pass. I don't know why that is, but there always seems to be something happening out there here. Overall, it just feels good to be back in a car. We hope to make the most of it, even though we've only had a very short time to get ready." -mnr-