Felipe Giaffone ...
#21 Hollywood/Mo Nunn Racing Chevrolet G-Force
Radisson Indy 225 - June 15-16, 2002 - Pre-Race Notes/Quotes
Pikes Peak International Raceway - Colorado Springs, Colo. - 1-Mile Oval
Round 7 of 15 on the 2002 Indy Racing League
** Felipe Giaffone is making his 20th career Indy Racing League start and his seventh with Hollywood/Mo Nunn Racing with this weekend's Radisson Indy 225. The 27-year-old Brazilian finished fifth at last weekend's Boomtown 500 at Texas Motor Speedway, which came on the heels of consecutive top-three finishes at Nazareth (second) and the Indianapolis 500 (third). Giaffone has five top-seven finishes in his first six starts this season, including seventh at Homestead and sixth at Fontana. He is currently fourth in the 2002 IRL driver points standings with 170, just one point shy of defending series champion Sam Hornish Jr., who is third with 171 points.
** Giaffone, the 2001 Indy Racing League Rookie of the Year had 10 top-10 finishes and three top-fives with Treadway/Hubbard Racing last season, including a season-best finish of second at Texas Motor Speedway in June. Last year here at PPIR, Giaffone started ninth and finished seventh.
** At the 86th Indy 500 on May 26, Giaffone made a valiant bid for his first career IRL victory. He started fourth, led for 11 laps in all, and was running second when he made a late-race bid to overtake then-leader and eventual race-winner Helio Castroneves, only to be held up by a slower car and dropped back to third.
** For the first and only time this season, Giaffone ran with a teammate at Indy. CART series regular Tony Kanaan drove a second team car, the #17 Hollywood/Mo Nunn Racing Chevrolet G-Force, and appeared headed to a victory himself. Kanaan started fifth (the fastest rookie qualifier in the 33-car field), alongside Giaffone on the second row, and led 23 laps before crashing while leading after spinning in the oil of fellow CART regular Bruno Junqueira.
** 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 exclusively in CART with Kanaan (2000-2001) and Alex Zanardi (2001). 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-Lola in the CART series, Kanaan' s fifth Champ Car season and third with Mo Nunn Racing. Kanaan is participating this weekend in the G.I. Joe's 200 at Portland.
** 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, Jose, was a longtime Brazilian stock car racer. Giaffone's brother, Jose, and cousin Affonso, 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.
"Coming off all the excitement of racing at Texas, it's a very nice change of pace to go to Pikes Peak. I'm not saying it's not an exciting place. It 's very much an exciting place to be in its own way. It's absolutely beautiful scenery. That's why a lot of us go into Colorado early and spend a little extra time there, like I did on Monday. As for the racetrack, it's a great facility. The track itself is very smooth. It's only a mile oval, but it's wide-open racing all the way around. You can go two-wide in a lot of the corners. So that makes for a very exciting race on Sunday. I had a hard time there last year, mostly because we never really found the right setup. We finished in the top 10, but this year I think we'll have a lot more than that to offer. I finished second at my last mile oval at Nazareth, so we know what our car can do on the small tracks. Hopefully we can go one better at Pikes Peak."