Michigan Giaffone leads Conquest front row sweep

BROOKLYN, Mich. (July 21, 2000) - Veteran Felipe Giaffone (Hollywood Lola) won the pole for Saturday's Dayton Indy Lights Championship Detroit News 100 at Michigan Speedway and joined teammate Chris Menninga (Mi-Jack Lola) to sweep the front row...

BROOKLYN, Mich. (July 21, 2000) - Veteran Felipe Giaffone (Hollywood Lola) won the pole for Saturday's Dayton Indy Lights Championship Detroit News 100 at Michigan Speedway and joined teammate Chris Menninga (Mi-Jack Lola) to sweep the front row for Conquest Racing.

Giaffone, one of only two drivers entered this weekend that has raced in all three races run at Michigan, lapped the two-mile track at an average speed of 183.267 mph (39.287 seconds) to win his first superspeedway pole. The top qualifying effort was the third of his career and Giaffone also won the pole at Long Beach and Milwaukee last year. He finished third in last year's Detroit News 100 and placed second on the similar California Speedway track in 1998.

"I think we were pretty lucky with the weather because the sun was out early in qualifying and just went away when Chris and I ran and I think that helped quite a lot," Giaffone said. "The race is much different than qualifying because you have to know the draft and have a good race car too. It is always good to have a teammate up close with you in the field and feel that is really important. This is what Dorricott Racing did last year and I finished third and it was very difficult to get in the middle of them so I think Chris and I are going to have to talk a little bit tonight."

Menninga posted a career-best qualifying effort and held the pole until Giaffone grabbed the top spot.

"I'm just happy to be at the front of the grid because we have been struggling all weekend and we are not even sure we have it all sorted out yet," Menninga said. "We made an engine change before qualifying and barely got that done and at the start of the session we had a misfire on the first lap. I went to fifth gear and it somehow cleared out and we picked up some revs and some speed."

Track record holder and 1998 Detroit News 100 winner Tony Renna (Motorola/PacWest Lights Lola) qualified third.

"I'm happy to start third in Saturday's race," Renna said. "This is my second straight start in the top four and that is a tribute to my crew. The guys have worked very hard to help me get up front and their efforts are starting to pay off. Tomorrow's race results will depend a lot on drafting. Hopefully Scott (Dixon) will make his way up front, and we'll be able to work together. I know as soon as the green flag flies, everyone will be out there for themselves. If I can find a running mate, great. If not, I'll do what I can to move to the head of the pack. I'm looking forward to a great race."

Dixon, the Dayton Indy Lights Championship points leader, qualified 13th fastest at 179.883 mph (40.026 seconds).

Casey Mears (Dorricott Racing/Sooner Trailer Lola) and his Dorricott Racing teammate Jason Bright (Dorricott Racing Lola) rounded out the top five.

"We caught a misfire in practice and we thought it was fixed," Mears said. "It reappeared. The crew did everything possible to make the car work. The car was really bitchin' for the most part. The crew paid attention to every detail to make it aerodynamically better. They found a loose vacuum line and fixed it so we hoped that would be the end of it. With how well the crew prepared the car, I know we would have likely won the pole without a misfire. We qualified fourth with a misfire so I can only imagine how fast I could have been with a healthy motor. Superspeedway races tend to be decided more by race decisions more than where you qualify. I think we have that going for us."

Saturday's race starts at 4:15 p.m. ET and can be seen the next day on ESPN2 at 6 p.m. ET (3 p.m. PT) in a one hour show.

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About this article
Series Indy Lights
Drivers Felipe Giaffone , Casey Mears , Chris Menninga , Tony Renna , Jason Bright
Teams Conquest Racing