IRL: Phoenix: Mo Nunn Racing Saturday report

Giaffone qualifies second, Takagi 13th at Phoenix. PHOENIX (Saturday, March 22, 2003) -- Felipe Giaffone and the ...

Giaffone qualifies second, Takagi 13th at Phoenix.

PHOENIX (Saturday, March 22, 2003) -- Felipe Giaffone and the #21 Hollywood/Mo Nunn Racing Toyota-powered Panoz G Force will start Sunday's Purex Dial Indy 200 on the outside of the front row after qualifying today on the mile oval at Phoenix International Raceway. Giaffone's teammate, Tora Takagi, will start on the inside of the seventh row in the #12 Pioneer/Mo Nunn Racing team car.

For Giaffone, his lap of 20.2513 seconds (177.76 mph) put him second on the grid for his best IRL IndyCar Series start in what will be 30 career starts. He was third on the grid at Pikes Peak and Kentucky last season, and went on to score his first career (and the team's first) IndyCar Series victory at the latter event.

Takagi battled an unexpected handling problem during his qualifying run that cropped up after looking much more promising in morning practice today, when he was seventh-fastest. He lapped the mile oval in 20.6864 seconds (174.02 mph) during the qualifying session, good for 13th on the starting grid.

Only Tony Kanaan clocked a faster qualifying lap than Giaffone today -- a 20.1667-second (178.51-mph) effort that earned him his second pole in two races this season. Scott Dixon, who won the season-opening event at Homestead, Fla., three weekends ago, will start third after a qualifying lap of 20.2633 seconds (177.66 mph).

Race time Sunday is 1:30 p.m. local time (3:30 p.m. EST) with a live broadcast set for ABC-TV (subject to change -- check local listings).

FELIPE GIAFFONE

"That felt really good. It was probably the first time so far this season that I had the car right the way I wanted it to be. We struggled all through the weekend at Homestead and fought really hard for a ninth-place finish. If all goes well tomorrow, it should be a much, much better day. We made a change that we thought would help the car right at the end of the practice session this morning, but we ran out of time and never had a chance to see if it was going to work for us. But we decided to stick with it and it turned out to be just what we needed for qualifying. I'm really happy with the work of all the guys on the Hollywood team. Tomorrow is going to be a long day, so it will be important to stay on top of the changing conditions and to stay out of trouble. I think we have a really good shot at it."

TORA TAKAGI

"We are a little bit disappointed with our qualifying position after we made such good progress in practice this morning. We had a very good car in practice and did not make any major changes before qualifying. But for some reason the car bottomed out pretty hard during the qualifying run and we can't figure out why that happened. It's disappointing to be starting where we are, but we know that we will have a good race car for Sunday. And that is what matters the most. I think we will have a good day tomorrow."

-mnr-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Felipe Giaffone , Scott Dixon , Tony Kanaan , Tora Takagi , Mo Nunn