IRL: Texas: Felipe Giaffone preview

Felipe Giaffone ...

Felipe Giaffone

#21 Hollywood/Mo Nunn Racing Chevrolet G-Force

**Felipe Giaffone is making his 19th career Indy Racing League start and his sixth with Hollywood/Mo Nunn Racing with this weekend's Boomtown 500. The 27-year-old Brazilian is riding a streak of consecutive top-three finishes at Nazareth (second) and the Indianapolis 500 (third), and has four top-10 finishes in his first five starts this season, including seventh at Homestead and sixth at Fontana. He is currently fourth in the 2002 IRL driver points standings with 140, and is second in the season's earning list.

**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 here at Texas Motor Speedway in June.

**Two weekends ago, at the 86th Indy 500, 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 (2002). 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-Reynard in the CART series, Kanaan's fifth Champ Car season and third with Mo Nunn Racing. Kanaan is participating this weekend in the Bridgestone Grand Prix of Monterey at Laguna Seca.

**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 was a longtime Brazilian stock car racer. Giaffone's brother Affonso and cousin Zeca 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.


"I think Texas is always going to be an exciting place to race. It's wide open, close racing from beginning to end. That makes it really interesting for the drivers, but especially it is great for the fans. You really have to stay on your toes, and you have to have a lot of respect for each other out there. I think we had a really good car out there for the June race last year. I finished second, which was my best finish at the point in my IRL career. We had some good pit stops at the end and we had the car dialed in to where I was able to run flat out to the finish. Right now, I'm really happy with my new team, and all of the guys. I woke up the first two mornings after Indy thinking that I should have won the race, so I was still a little disappointed. Mainly, because I know I had such a good car for the 500 and when you have a car that's that good, you feel like it's going to be hard to have another car like that again in that big of a race. But in the big picture of things, the good thing is that we were able to have maybe the best car on the racetrack, and we had a really good car at Nazareth the race before that, and we could have won that race, too. So I'm having the best momentum that I've had in my IRL career so far, and the team is definitely getting stronger and stronger every race. Even though we haven't won a race, yet, if we keep doing the job, it's going to come. Overall, we're looking good in the championship, and if we keep finishing well and keep avoiding the big mistakes, we're confident in our car and each other, and we know our time is going to come."


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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Felipe Giaffone , Eddie Cheever , Arie Luyendyk , Helio Castroneves , Michael Andretti , Jimmy Vasser , Roberto Guerrero , Bruno Junqueira , Alex Zanardi , Tony Kanaan , Chris Amon , Patrick Tambay , Nelson Piquet , Johnny Cecotto , Emerson Fittipaldi , Morris Nunn , Derek Daly , Chip Ganassi , Clay Regazzoni , Mo Nunn
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing