Felipe Giaffone and the ...
Felipe Giaffone and the #21 Hollywood/Mo Nunn Racing Chevrolet G-Force finished second in today's Firestone Indy 225 at Nazareth Speedway.
Giaffone, the 2001 Indy Racing League Rookie of the Year, started fifth and was running third heading into the final lap when polesitter and race-leader Gil de Ferran ran out of fuel with half a lap to go. Then-second-place Scott Sharp and Giaffone whizzed by with Sharp posting his first victory of the season a mere .49 seconds ahead of Giaffone. De Ferran finished third.
The race was marred by seven caution periods for four accidents and moisture on the track on a cold and gloomy Pennsylvania afternoon. A total of 116 laps of the 225-lap race distance on the mile oval were run under caution.
The runner-up finish moved Giaffone to fourth in the driver points standings with 105. He trails Sam Hornish (154), de Ferran (149) and Helio Castroneves (145) heading into next month's 86th running of the Indianapolis 500, the next stop on the 2002 IRL circuit. Indy 500 practice opens on May 5, with Pole Day qualifying set for May 11. Race day is May 26. Giaffone, Mo Nunn Racing's lone full-time entry on the 2002 IRL circuit, will be joined by CART FedEx Championship Series regular and fellow Brazilian Tony Kanaan in a second Hollywood-sponsored Chevrolet team car. Kanaan's Mo Nunn Racing Honda-Reynard is sponsored by Pioneer and WorldCom.
"I had a few close calls the last 50 laps. I didn't know about Gil. I knew he at least would be trying to save gas. I knew about Sharp, I knew that he was good, and Sarah (Fisher), as well. I knew the only chance I had would be in the beginning. You know, that's what happened with Sarah. We got very close together. But it works good for me. Then with Sharp, I think we both took a chance. Half my left rear was in the grass, and I bottomed very hard, almost hit the wall on the outside. So I think we took a chance. But it worked a little better for him. Fortunately, we didn't go to the wall, both of us. It was very close. Right after that my car started to push more than before. Before that, I had a very neutral car, and good. I was a little - I mean, after that close call, I was a little concerned that something was going wrong with the car. But I don't think anything was damaged there. I just started to pick up a little bit of push. I knew it would be very hard to pass without a slower car to help out. Even Gil, I'm pretty sure even the way he was running a lot slower because of the fuel. I mean, he still would keep Sharp behind him. So I took the chance, and I knew that would be it. I was just waiting for another slower car. Mo Nunn Racing, they're doing a great job. We started a little bit off in Homestead. We really struggled with the car there. But we still got away with seventh-place finish. Phoenix wasn't very good. I ended up in the wall. Fontana was good. I'm very happy so far. We have a good car pretty much everywhere we go. I hope it is not going to be any different at Indy."