IRL: Richmond: SAFR, Kosuke Matsuura preview

Matsuura Set to Challenge at Richmond The IRL IndyCar® Series travels to Richmond, Virginia, this weekend for the SunTrust Indy Challenge. Rookie points leader Kosuke Matsuura [Kohs-kay Mat-sur-ah] heads to Richmond International Raceway with...

Matsuura Set to Challenge at Richmond

The IRL IndyCar® Series travels to Richmond, Virginia, this weekend for the SunTrust Indy Challenge. Rookie points leader Kosuke Matsuura [Kohs-kay Mat-sur-ah] heads to Richmond International Raceway with a vengeance after a strong run in Texas two weeks ago -- where Matsuura qualified fourth and led the first laps of his IRL career -- came to an early end with an electrical problem.

It was Matsuura's first DNF (did not finish) this season in a consistent showing that includes four consecutive top-10 starts and four top-11 finishes. Matsuura, the Indianapolis 500 Bank One Rookie of the Year, is currently ranked sixth in laps completed to date in the #55 Panasonic ARTA Panoz G Force/Honda/Firestone.

Saturday's 250-lap event -- the second of three night races on the 2004 schedule -- will be contested on Richmond's .75-mile oval, the shortest circuit the series visits.

* Will be making his sixth IRL IndyCar Series career start

* Currently leads the Bombardier Rookie of the Year standings by 28 points

* Currently sits 12th in the championship point standings, 13 points out of the top 10

* Claimed best starting position to date of fourth at Texas and Japan

* Posted best finishing position to date of eighth in Japan

Kosuke Matsuura, #55 Panasonic ARTA Panoz G Force/Honda/Firestone:

"My sponsor, Panasonic, is coming to the Richmond race and I want to get a good result, especially after the Texas race. [Matsuura had his first DNF - did not finish - of the season at Texas due to an electrical problem after starting fourth.] I was very disappointed after the last race, but I have a lot of motivation to do well at Richmond. If we have a good setup like we did in Texas, I think we can have a good result. I am going to try to win this race."

FAST FACTS: 24 years old from Aichi, Japan-- began his career in karts at the age of 14-- finished third in the 2003 Formula Renault V6 Eurocup-- finished second in the 2002 German Formula 3 Championship-- won the 2000 Japanese Formula Dream Series Championship before heading to Europe in 2001 to compete in German F3-- has been a member of Co-Owner Aguri Suzuki's ARTA (Autobacs Racing Team Aguri) driver development project since 1998 after climbing up the Japanese karting ranks--currently resides in Indianapolis, Indiana.

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Kosuke Matsuura , Aguri Suzuki