Felipe Giaffone will make his return to the Indy Racing League this weekend, when he climbs back aboard the Hollywood-backed Mo Nunn Racing G-Force-Toyota at Chicagoland Speedway.

The Brazilian fractured his right femur and pelvis in an accident with Dan Wheldon at Kansas Speedway in July, missing five races while 'supersub' Alex Barron filled in alongside Tora Takagi. Giaffone returned to the team after a seven-and-a-half-week absence - which he spent recuperating in Sao Paulo - when he joined Takagi for a two-day test at Chicagoland last week, and declared himself fit to drive after completing more than 300 laps of the Joliet facility.

"It's hard to put into words how great it feels to be back in the Hollywood car," he admitted, "I think I didn't know how much I was really missing being in the car until we tested at Chicagoland last week. I was hurt, and every ounce of my energy was spent working hard to get back into driving shape. All that hard work kind of took my mind off of what it was like to race. But, then, when they belted me into the car for the test, it was like magic, and it was almost like I was never gone."

Last year at Chicagoland, his first with Hollywood/Mo Nunn Racing, Giaffone qualified tenth and finished sixth. He would be happy with that result this weekend, but admits that there are more pressing objectives.

"We're not fighting for the championship or anything like that, so our first goal this weekend - and for the final two races of the season - will be to finish the race," he insisted, "That's our goal as a driver and as a team. After that, I will do my best to finish as high as I can."

During his five-race run subbing for Giaffone, Barron scored a fifth-place finish at Nashville, followed by the team's second-ever victory at Michigan. Then, however, the #21 car was plagued by DNFs at Gateway, Kentucky and Nazareth, courtesy of a pit-lane collision that damaged a gearbox, a broken fuel pump and a collision with the wall respectively.

"I'm confident that we're going to have a good car to finish well at all three tracks to close the season," Giaffone said, "First things first, I want to see if I can help turn around this streak of bad luck the team has been having in the past few races. All three races we have left are on similar kinds of tracks, and we had a good test at Chicago. So, if we do well at Chicago, we'll do well at Fontana and at Texas, too.

"It'll be a little difficult this first race back, I'm sure, because I haven't raced for a while, but did pretty well there last year. We qualified tenth and we were right there at the end. I thought we were going to have a podium finish, but it was one of the wildest finishes of the season and somehow we got shuffled back to sixth at the very end."

 

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