IRL: Nazareth: Mo Nunn Racing race report

Barron's bid for victory at nazareth ends abruptly; Takagi loses electrical power in the closing laps. NAZARETH, Pa. (Sunday, Aug. 24, 2003) -- Alex Barron's bid for victory in today's Firestone Indy 225 on the Nazareth Speedway mile oval came...

Barron's bid for victory at nazareth ends abruptly; Takagi loses electrical power in the closing laps.

NAZARETH, Pa. (Sunday, Aug. 24, 2003) -- Alex Barron's bid for victory in today's Firestone Indy 225 on the Nazareth Speedway mile oval came to an abrupt end just 25 laps from the finish while teammate Tora Takagi's bid for a top-10 finish from his 10th-row starting position ended shortly thereafter due to electrical problems.

Barron, subbing for the fifth race in a row for the injured Felipe Giaffone in the #21 Hollywood/Mo Nunn Racing Toyota-powered Panoz G Force, was running third behind Helio Castroneves and Sam Hornish, Jr., when, on Lap 200, he lost control of his car coming out of Turn 3 and hit the outside retaining wall. Barron was unhurt. He started ninth and picked off position after position throughout the race thanks to excellent work by the Hollywood/Mo Nunn Racing crew on Lap 52 and Lap 123 pit stops under caution. Giaffone, who fractured his right femur and pelvis in a racing accident July 6 at Kansas Speedway, will test the Hollywood car at Chicagoland Speedway this coming week and plans to return to race action at the 1.5-mile oval near Joliet, Ill., in two weeks.

Takagi, who qualified 20th in the #12 Pioneer/Mo Nunn Racing Toyota-powered Dallara chassis, switched to the back-up #12 Pioneer/Mo Nunn Racing Toyota-powered Panoz G Force chassis for yesterday's final practice session and today's race. He lost one lap on the tight, tiny tri-oval during his first fuel-and-tire run although he was up to 16th position by the time the leaders pitted under yellow on Lap 52. The Pioneer team elected to stay on track to gain back the lap he lost and Takagi resumed in 16th, back on the lead lap, when the race went green on Lap 61. He was forced to pit for fuel and tires under green on Lap 90 while running 15th. He fell two laps down and resumed in 18th. Once again, Takagi stayed on track when the leaders pitted under yellow on Lap 123, got one of his laps back and found himself in 13th position. Takagi pitted a third time under yellow on Lap 169 and resumed in 12th position. He was in 11th by Lap 174 and maintained that position until stopping on course with no power on Lap 206 during the caution period for teammate Barron's accident.

Castroneves went on to pick up his second victory in the last three races, beating Hornish across the finish line by a little more than a tenth of a second. Bryan Herta was third.

After taking next weekend off, the 2003 IRL IndyCar Series tour resumes at the Delphi Indy 300 at Chicagoland on Sept. 7. ABC-TV will carry the event live.

ALEX BARRON

"We were definitely poised to make a run for the win in the closing laps. I feel terrible about what happened. I thought I felt something a little funny in the back of the car the lap before the accident. On the next lap, I was moving to get around the lapped car of Buddy Rice and tried to get into position to make a run on (Sam) Hornish. The rear got away from me coming around (Turn) 3 and that was it. It's a shame. My car was great. We had great pit stops. All of that went out the window. It's unfortunate for the whole Hollywood team. They'll take a close look and see what might have gone wrong. In the meantime, I have no idea what comes next for me. It's been a great run with the Hollywood/Mo Nunn team."

TORA TAKAGI

"The car just lost power. There was nothing we could do to start it. About 10 or 15 laps earlier, I lost power for just a short time on the track, but it came back again. It seems like it was some sort of electrical problem. My car got better and better during the race. It was a good idea to switch back to the (Panoz) G Force chassis. I think we could maybe finish in the top 10. That would have been a successful day after we started from the back."

-mnr-

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Helio Castroneves , Tora Takagi , Bryan Herta , Alex Barron , Buddy Rice , Sam Hornish Jr. , Mo Nunn