Barron Set To Defend

Open-wheel veteran Alex Barron, who replaced injured Mo Nunn Racing driver Arie Luyendyk at this year's Indianapolis 500, returns to the team this weekend to substitute for the injured Felipe Giaffone in the Firestone Indy 200 on July 19 at Nashville Superspeedway.

Barron, 32, from Menifee, Calif., will drive the No. 21 Hollywood Mo Nunn Racing Panoz G Force at the 1.33-mile Nashville Superspeedway. He won this event last year while driving for Blair Racing, his first career IRL IndyCar Series victory.

The race will be televised live at 8 p.m. (EDT) on ESPN2. The IMS Radio Network will broadcast the race live, starting with a pre-race show at 7:30 p.m.

"We're going to be under the gun once again, but aside from the Speedway at Indy, I can't think of a better situation or a track to jump back into a race car on short notice," Barron said. "Having won the Nashville race last year, and having been a part of the Mo Nunn team at Indy this year, I think our chances of being competitive in the race Saturday night are very, very good. I'm definitely looking forward to it."

Barron was the fastest Bump Day qualifier this year at Indianapolis and drove the No. 20 Meijer/Mo Nunn Racing Panoz G Force from 25th on the starting grid to a sixth-place finish.

Giaffone had surgery last week to repair a fractured right femur and pelvis suffered in an accident with Dan Wheldon at the Kansas Indy 300 on July 6 at Kansas Speedway. Giaffone is currently recovering at Rehabilitation Hospital of Indiana in Indianapolis, and it is uncertain when he will be able to return to the cockpit.

"Alex did a tremendous job for us with relatively little preparation at Indy this year, and we are fortunate that a driver of his caliber is available to help us out of a tough situation this weekend," team owner Morris Nunn said. "It is a shame what happened to Felipe (Giaffone) at Kansas Speedway two weekends ago, especially since his injuries resulted from an accident that we believe was not his fault.

"We wish him the speediest of recoveries. We're confident he'll come back stronger than ever. In the meantime, we are prepared to keep Hollywood in the championship hunt with Alex behind the wheel this weekend."

1997 Toyota Atlantic champion Barron will be the teammate of full-time Nunn driver Tora Takagi, who drives the No. 12 Pioneer Mo Nunn Racing Panoz G Force.

Barron finished fifth in the series points during his first full IRL IndyCar Series season in 2002 with Blair Racing. In addition to his victory at Nashville, Barron scored Indianapolis 500 Bank One Rookie of the Year honors with a fourth-place finish.

The Nashville event will be Barron's third IndyCar Series start of the season. Besides racing at Indy, he substituted for the injured Gil de Ferran with Marlboro Team Penske in the Indy Japan 300 in April at Twin Ring Motegi. Barron finished 17th after a late accident.

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Auto Club 500

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