Giaffone Finishes Sixth at Richmond, Teammate Takagi 13th RICHMOND, Va. (Saturday, June 28, 2003) -- Felipe Giaffone scored a sixth-place finish in tonight's rain-shortened SunTrust Indy Challenge while teammate Tora Takagi, forced to start...
Giaffone Finishes Sixth at Richmond, Teammate Takagi 13th
RICHMOND, Va. (Saturday, June 28, 2003) -- Felipe Giaffone scored a sixth-place finish in tonight's rain-shortened SunTrust Indy Challenge while teammate Tora Takagi, forced to start from the back of the 22-car field in his back-up car after crashing the car he qualified third during Saturday night's final practice, came home in 13th place tonight.
Giaffone and the #21 Hollywood/Mo Nunn Racing Toyota-powered Panoz G Force qualified eighth, started seventh after Takagi moved to the back of the pack, and was shuffled back to 14th during his first fuel-and-tire run with an ill-handling car. He gained six positions during the first round of pit stops under yellow on Lap 61 of tonight's scheduled 250-lap event despite contact in the pits with the car of Sam Hornish, Jr. Hornish exited his pit stall slowly and made side-by-side contact with Giaffone as he was entering his pit stall. The Hollywood crew made it a brilliant stop, nonetheless, and Giaffone re-emerged in eighth place with no significant damage to his car as a result of the contact with Hornish. Giaffone picked up one spot during his next fuel-and-tire run, pitting under yellow once again and moving from seventh to fifth place after another brilliant stop by the Hollywood crew. Giaffone held onto fifth place until Hornish got by him during a dramatic charge to the front on Lap 181. Hornish got Giaffone for fifth and then Tony Kanaan for fourth during that sequence. Giaffone was in sixth position when rain began to fall on Lap 197 and the yellow flag flew. The race was called on Lap 206.
Takagi and the #12 Pioneer/Mo Nunn Racing Toyota-powered Panoz G Force back-up car gradually picked up position after position at the start, finding himself in 18th by Lap 43, but already a lap down. He was 17th when pitting during the first round of stops under yellow on Lap 61 but was blocked by the car of Hornish (who made contact with Giaffone ahead of him) when his stop was finished and Takagi fell back to 18th . Takagi got back on the lead lap during the next caution period that began on Lap 130. A majority of the field pitted while the Pioneer crew opted to stay out on the track. The strategy paid off when the race went yellow again on Lap 158 and Takagi was able to pick up four tires and fuel and remain on the lead lap, in 12th place. He picked up one more position by Lap 161, but he fell from 11th to 13th when, on Lap 181, Roger Yasukawa and Greg Ray were able to get by when Takagi's car wandered a bit too high on the track. He held on for 13th.
Polesitter Scott Dixon picked up the victory for the second race in a row and for the third time this season. Helio Castroneves finished second, Gil de Ferran was third, Hornish was fourth and Kanaan was fifth. Giaffone remained in ninth in the driver standings at 151 points after tonight's result. Takagi moved up to 10th with 137 points.
Next up for the IRL IndyCar Series competitors is the Kansas Indy 300 next weekend (July 4-6) at Kansas Speedway on the outskirts of Kansas City, Kan.
"Well, after three not-so-very-good results, we finally got a top-six finish. It's not the greatest, but we had great pit stops tonight, and we improved the car on both stops, and if we perform like that the rest of the season, we're going to be fighting for the championship. At the beginning of the race, the car was really bad. I couldn't touch the throttle because I was pushing really badly in some places and loose in others. But we made the car a little more balanced on the first stop, and then a little more on the second stop. I just wish I could have started the race with the car as good as it was when we finished the race. We had an incident there with (Sam) Hornish on the first stop, but fortunately it didn't hurt the Hollywood car and we ended up gaining track position with a good stop. I don't know what happened. I was committed to my pit stall and all of a sudden Hornish was there. I think he didn't know I was coming, or he had some sort of miscommunication with his crew. Kind of like we had at Pikes Peak with (Tomas) Scheckter. With the way he was running at the end of the race, I think the contact didn't hurt Hornish's car, either. We'll take some pretty decent points from here and hopefully we're back on the right track. I'm really looking forward to Kansas next weekend."
"We did the best we could starting from the back in our back-up car. I think it is a very difficult job to make two cars exactly the same. We had a good car for qualifying yesterday, but, unfortunately, we had the accident in the final practice and had to start in the back. I was fighting oversteer for the whole race. Everything I tried didn't work. I was working with the (roll) bars and the weight jacker and I could not get the car to work better. The team did some good strategy to get me to the 11th position, but then I got a little too high on the track, on the dirty stuff, and (Roger) Yasukawa and (Greg) Ray got by me. We did our best. If we would have started third in the car I had yesterday, we might be celebrating right now. Instead, we'll be happy to leave here with one of our race cars in one piece."