IRL: Nazareth: Mo Nunn Racing preview

Felipe Giaffone ...

Felipe Giaffone
#21 Hollywood/Mo Nunn Racing Chevrolet G-Force
Firestone Indy 225 - Sunday, April 21, 2002
Nazareth Speedway - Nazareth, Pa. - 1-Mile Oval
Round 4 of 15 on the 2002 Indy Racing League

** Felipe Giaffone is making his 17th career Indy Racing League start and his fourth with Mo Nunn Racing. The 27-year-old Brazilian had 10 top-10 finishes and three top-fives during his 2001 IRL Rookie of the Year season with Treadway/Hubbard Racing last season, including a season-best finish of second at Texas Motor Speedway in June.

** In his first three starts this season, Giaffone has two top-10 finishes - seventh at the Homestead, Fla., season opener March 3 and sixth at California Speedway in Fontana on March 24 - and is currently seventh in the series driver points standings.

** This weekend marks the first-ever IRL event at Nazareth, but Giaffone has raced at Nazareth three times (1996, 1998 and 1999) in the Dayton Indy Lights series, with a best finish of eighth in 1998, and a best qualifying effort of fourth in 1999. He was running for a podium finish late in the 1999 race but crashed during the closing laps.

** Earlier this week, Giaffone and Tony Kanaan, his Hollywood/Mo Nunn Racing teammate for this year's Indy 500, had a shakedown test of a brand new Chevrolet-powered G-Force in private testing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It was Giaffone's first test of the season at the Speedway, and Kanaan's first-ever laps around the legendary 2.5-mile oval. Together, they combined for more than 100 miles of testing.

** During his Indy Lights career, prior to joining the IRL in 2001, Giaffone enjoyed a four-season run in the Indy Lights championship, a run that included a 2000 victory from the pole at Michigan. He was fourth in Indy Lights driver points in 1998 and 2000, and sixth in 1999 driving for Conquest racing.

** This is Mo Nunn Racing's inaugural Indy Racing League season after spending the first two years of its existence in the CART FedEx Championship Series with drivers Tony Kanaan (2000-2001) and Alex Zanardi (2002). In addition to Giaffone and the Hollywood car in the IRL, Mo Nunn Racing in 2002 is also campaigning Kanaan's #10 Pioneer-WorldCom/Mo Nunn Racing Honda-Reynard in the CART series, Kanaan's fifth Champ Car season and third with Mo Nunn Racing. The 20-event CART season commenced March 10 in Monterrey, Mexico, where Kanaan placed 16th.

** Giaffone's driving coach in 1999 was Brazilian three-time Formula 1 champion Nelson Piquet.

** Giaffone began racing go-karts in Brazil at age 12. His father was a longtime Brazilian stock car racer. Giaffone's brother Affonso and cousin Zeca also raced in Indy Lights.

** Also new for Giaffone this season: the 2002 season is his first as a married man. He married his longtime girlfriend "Alice" on Jan. 15 in Brazil. As the story goes, Giaffone won the favor of his new bride back in 1994 singing karaoke.

** Engineering Giaffone's #21 Hollywood Chevrolet this season is Eric Cowdin, who moved to Mo Nunn Racing's IRL program after engineering Kanaan in the CART series during the team's first two seasons. Cowdin, in fact, engineered Kanaan's entries dating back to the 1996 and 1997 Dayton Indy Lights Rookie of the Year and series championship seasons, respectively, at Tasman Motorsports, as well as Kanaan's inaugural Champ Car season with Tasman (later Forsythe Championship Racing) in 1999. Kanaan won that year's U.S. 500 and sat on the pole at Long Beach.

** Peter Parrott, longtime Penske Motorsports and International Speedway Corp., executive, joined Mo Nunn Racing this past offseason to take on the role of team manager of the IRL program. Parrott was team manager at Vince Granatelli Racing in the early 1990s when Mo Nunn Racing team owner Morris Nunn was then engineer for Granatelli's entry for driver Arie Luyendyk.

** Prior to starting his own team in 2000, Morris Nunn was technical director at Target/Chip Ganassi Racing during four consecutive CART championships won by the team for drivers Jimmy Vasser (1996), Alex Zanardi (1997-98) and Juan Montoya (1999). Nunn also engineered Emerson Fittipaldi's 1989 Indy 500 victory and CART series title. The former driver and Formula 1 team owner came to the U.S. in the early 1980s and over the years engineered such notable CART drivers as Eddie Cheever, Arie Luyendyk and Michael Andretti. Nunn's list of Formula 1 drivers includes Clay Regazzoni, Roberto Guerrero, Chris Amon, Jackie Ickx, Patrick Tambay, Nelson Piquet, Johnny Cecotto, and Derek Daly.

** Race time for Sunday's 225-lap event is 1 p.m. EDT and it will be aired live on ABC-TV and the IMS Radio Network. Pre-race programming includes "Indy Racing 2Day" Sunday at 12 noon EDT on ESPN2. Practice begins Friday morning with qualifying set for Saturday at 11:30 a.m. EDT.

FELIPE GIAFFONE

"I'm really looking forward to Nazareth. It's like Phoenix in a lot of ways. It is a very historic track, and it's a very interesting little mile oval where we should do pretty well, just like we did at Phoenix. We didn't have a great result at Phoenix. In fact, I crashed out of the race there -- my very first time as an IRL driver that I crashed out of a race, so that was pretty awful. Especially since it was only my second race with the Hollywood/Mo Nunn Racing team. It was even more frustrating because we really had a good race car that could have been there at the end and challenging for the lead. We'll be in the same shape for Nazareth. We had a decent test there during the Open Test. We were not able to put the speeds down that we were looking for - the "p.r." lap as Morris likes to call it. I think every time we put on a new set of tires, something seemed to happen to not let us take advantage of it and put down a fast lap. We are within a 10th (of a second) or two from the fastest cars out there for qualifying, but we should be alright for the race. It's a shame we never had a chance to try a lot of things we wanted to on the second day of the Open Test. But better that it snowed then and hopefully we'll have nice weather all weekend long for the race. We did come away with a lot of information from the Open Test. Everybody's been working very hard back at the shop, so hopefully that will pay off big-time at Nazareth."

-mnr-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Felipe Giaffone , Eddie Cheever , Arie Luyendyk , Michael Andretti , Jimmy Vasser , Roberto Guerrero , Alex Zanardi , Tony Kanaan , Chris Amon , Patrick Tambay , Nelson Piquet , Johnny Cecotto , Emerson Fittipaldi , Morris Nunn , Derek Daly , Chip Ganassi , Clay Regazzoni , Mo Nunn
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing