Iindy Countdown:/I Giaffone Is In
May 21, 2001 | 12:00 A.M. EST
On Monday, Treadway-Hubbard Racing pulled veteran Boesel out of the lineup in favor of rookie Felipe Giaffone.
"Our commitment is to Felipe and our sponsor Hollywood for the 2001 season," said Scott Cronk, vice president at Treadway-Hubbard. “Felipe has done a great job for us, and we have a tremendous confidence in his abilities.”
Boesel was understandably disappointed to be missing the biggest race in the world, but he knew being pulled out of the No. 5T G Force-Aurora was a possibility.
“I knew why the team called me and what the plan would be in this situation,” said Boesel, who qualified at 221.879 mph on Sunday. “All the appropriate arrangements were made up front.”
Those preparations hinged on Giaffone’s four-lap qualifying average of 221.100 mph in his No. 21 G Force-Aurora, which he set on Pole Day.
Boesel thought Giaffone’s time would hold up on Bump Day, but it didn’t. Giaffone was bumped out by Stephan Gregoire 53 minutes before the end of the three days of qualifying.
“I'm certainly disappointed because I really thought 221.100 would be enough, and I would have a chance to race,” Boesel said. “Everything happens for a reason, I guess. I wish the team the best, and I hope I have the opportunity to work with the Treadway team again in the future.”
For his part, Giaffone expressed his disappointment in failing to make the race based on his speed.
“That’s not the way I want to do it,” Giaffone said. “I feel bad for that. I’m not really happy. I don’t feel good at all.
“To be in this race is an awesome feeling, however. If I do start, now I’ll be in the last row and I’ll just have to watch out.”
Although he was aware that Giaffone’s speed might not make the race, Cronk was nonetheless surprised when the Indy Racing Northern Light Series rookie points leader was ousted.
“We all really thought 221.100 would hold so we didn’t want to withdraw our qualified car,” Cronk explained. “We knew however, if we did get bumped it would be late in the day so we did not want to risk not having the opportunity to go back out and qualify if time ran out or if we had a problem as we saw with some other guys last week.
“After seeing the speeds in ideal conditions last Sunday, we felt it prudent to take measures to protect our starting position in the field, and Raul agreed to come drive the car knowing this possibility existed.”
After Giaffone was squeezed out of the field, the Treadway team tried to re-qualify Giaffone in the backup No. 21T car. His run was waved off after one lap at 215.992 mph.
“We did in fact have a mechanical problem with the 21T car on Sunday and could never get the car up to speed,” Cronk said. “This place is extremely unpredictable, as the last two weeks have proven. This was a well-thought-out plan to protect our interest in having Felipe and a Hollywood car in the race.”
Giaffone is fifth in the IRNLS points standings and is leading the rookie points. He’s collected three top-10 finishes in the first three IRNLS races. He’ll have a harder time reaching the Top 10 in the Indy 500.
Under IRNLS rules, Giaffone will be required to start the race at the back of the pack because he is replacing another driver.
“Who knows, maybe we can have a repeat of 1992,” Cronk said.
That was the year Scott Goodyear was bumped from the field and replaced teammate Mike Groff. Goodyear started 33rd and finished second to Al Unser Jr. in the closest Indy 500 finish ever.