IRL: Texas II: Mo Nunn Racing Saturday report

Giaffone, Takagi conclude practice for Sunday's season finale FORT WORTH, Texas (Saturday, Oct. 11, 2003) -- Mo Nunn Racing teammates Felipe Giaffone and Tora Takagi wrapped up the final two practice sessions today for Sunday's Chevy 500 IRL ...

Giaffone, Takagi conclude practice for Sunday's season finale

FORT WORTH, Texas (Saturday, Oct. 11, 2003) -- Mo Nunn Racing teammates Felipe Giaffone and Tora Takagi wrapped up the final two practice sessions today for Sunday's Chevy 500 IRL IndyCar Series season finale on the Texas Motor Speedway 1.5-mile tri-oval.

Giaffone and the #21 Hollywood/Mo Nunn Racing Toyota-powered Panoz G Force, who will start Sunday's 200-lap (300-mile) race from the outside of the second row, clocked the third-fastest and ninth-fastest laps in today's two 30-minute practice sessions. He circled the high-banked tri-oval with a fast lap of 23.6888 seconds (221.117 mph) this morning, and in 23.6318 seconds (221.650 mph) in the early-afternoon session. During qualifying Friday evening, Giaffone toured the circuit with a fast lap of 23.5995 seconds (221.954 mph) to claim the fourth spot on the starting grid.

Meanwhile, Takagi and the #12 Pioneer/Mo Nunn Racing Toyota-powered Panoz G Force, who will start from the inside-sixth-row spot on the grid on Sunday, was 11th and eighth in today's practice sessions. His best lap this morning was a 23.7761-second (220.306-mph) effort, followed by a 23.6308-second (221.660-mph) lap this afternoon. His best qualifying lap on Friday was 23.7564 seconds (220.488 mph), good for 11th on the grid.

Two-time-defending series champion Sam Hornish, Jr., clocked the fastest lap of the day today in the afternoon session at 23.3563 seconds (224.265 mph). Hornish is one of five drivers still mathematically eligible to clinch the championship on Sunday. Gil de Ferran, who will retire after Sunday's race, earned the pole Friday with a fast lap of 23.5031 seconds (222.864 mph). Scott Dixon qualified second in 23.5040 seconds (222.856 mph), followed by Tomas Scheckter in third at 23.5988 seconds (221.960 mph). In addition to Hornish, other drivers still eligible for the championship are de Ferran Dixon, Helio Castroneves and Tony Kanaan.

The green flag flies for Sunday's 200-lap race at 2:45 p.m. local time (3:45 p.m. EDT) with a live ESPN broadcast set to begin at 3:30 p.m. EDT.

FELIPE GIAFFONE

"We're in great shape for tomorrow, I think. The Hollywood car felt good running on its own and running behind other cars. Now we just have to be mentally ready to fight hard from the beginning to the end tomorrow. You have to have everything go right to win one of these races and you can't lose your focus, or else this track will bite you. I don't intend to let that happen!"

TORA TAKAGI

"I felt fairly comfortable out there today, especially in traffic. We started out the weekend very fast in the first practice yesterday, and then we tried some things for the second practice that didn't work, and that set us back a little bit for the qualifying session. But we got all of that sorted out and I think I have a very good race car for tomorrow, just like I had here in the June race. I will do my best."

-mnr-

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Tomas Scheckter , Felipe Giaffone , Helio Castroneves , Gil de Ferran , Scott Dixon , Tony Kanaan , Tora Takagi , Mo Nunn , Sam Hornis