Felipe Giaffone and the ...
Felipe Giaffone and the #21 Hollywood/Mo Nunn Racing Chevrolet G-Force will start Saturday night's SunTrust Indy Challenge Indy Racing League event from the outside of the fifth row after today's opening day of practice and qualifying. Giaffone recorded a fast qualifying lap of 16.472 seconds (163.913 mph) over the ¾-mile Richmond International Raceway oval, the shortest track on the IRL tour. It was the 10th-fastest lap of the session.
Earlier in the day, Giaffone was fastest in the opening practice session with a lap of 16.615 seconds (162.497 mph), then the fastest lap ever turned by an IRL car at Richmond. He fell to sixth in the second practice session despite a better lap of 16.523 seconds (163.409 mph).
Gil de Ferran and Helio Castroneves made it an all-Penske Racing front row for the second race in a row. De Ferran's pole-qualifying lap was 16.004 seconds (168.705 mph) while Castroneves took the outside-front-row spot with a lap of 16.070 seconds (168.013 mph). They were more than two-tenths of a second faster than the rest of the field on the ¾-mile oval. Defending series champion Sam Hornish was third at 16.284 seconds (165.807 mph). All three drive Chevrolet-powered Dallaras. Jeff Ward was the fastest Chevrolet-powered G-Force, taking the seventh spot on the grid in 16.408 seconds (164.551 mph).
Final practice begins at 2:30 p.m. EDT Saturday. Race time is 7:30 p.m. EDT with a live broadcast set for ESPN.
"We started the day so well. We were first in the opening practice and had the (IRL) track record for a while. But then we fell back to sixth in the second practice session, and I thought for sure we would do a lot better in qualifying. We did not want to start the race in this position. We will have to race very hard and stay out of trouble so that we can be there at the end and make a charge at the finish. But this is not an easy track to pass other drivers. Teamwork will be very important because the best way to pass other drivers will be during the pit stops. In the afternoon practice, my car started pushing. We tried to change some things, but I don't believe they worked very well with the changing conditions on the track. Then, on my first qualifying lap, the car was good, but then on the second lap my car started pushing in Turn Four. This track is like Indianapolis. The 1.5-mile ovals and the 1-mile ovals are all the same. But when you go to Indianapolis and to Richmond, you can throw all the setup knowledge you have out the window because they are very unique tracks. This track is so physically demanding because the track is so short and you don't have enough time to pass because you are always turning. So it will be a very stressful race, and physically demanding because the temperature is very warm. The people who are not in good shape will suffer in this race. I don't know if we will do three or four pit stops during the race, but I will have to work very hard to make up ground in the pits. As I'm not in the front on the grid, I will have to be patient and wait until the last 40 laps and make my charge, if I'm in a good position then."