COMEBACK UNDER-THE-LIGHTS KENTUCKY 100 RACE CONFIRMS RICHARD ANTINUCCI AS LONE FIRESTONE INDY LIGHTS POINTS STANDINGS LEADER Antinucci finishes fourth, holding off pole sitter Raphael Matos' challenge and now leads the Brazilian 408 points to...
COMEBACK UNDER-THE-LIGHTS KENTUCKY 100 RACE CONFIRMS RICHARD ANTINUCCI AS LONE FIRESTONE INDY LIGHTS POINTS STANDINGS LEADER
Antinucci finishes fourth, holding off pole sitter Raphael Matos' challenge and now leads the Brazilian 408 points to 404. Briton Dillon Battistini bounces back into title contention with 4th win
SATURDAY'S NOTES: ■ Richard Antinucci moved up six place from Row 5 to finish fourth yesterday at Kentucky 100. Brazilian Raphael Matos, claiming pole Friday for the 13th round of the Firestone Indy Lights series, had pulled even with Sam Schmidt's Antinucci on 376 points apiece, but the San Diego resident took the chequered flag two spots ahead of the AFS/Andretti Green driver, overtaking him for the lead of the championship in the process. After a good start Antinucci patiently got around the opposition in the early stages, until he was able to step into the Top 5 on Lap 18 moving past Matos. The battle around the half-race mark has seen Antinucci fight for positions with team mates James Davison, Ana Beatriz and AFS/Andretti Green driver Arie Luyendyk Jr. But the spell from Lap 39 to 60 was actually hampered by three full-course yellows, with barely a clean lap after each restart, and drivers Ana Beatriz, JR Hildebrand, Pablo Donoso, CR Crews and Catherina Orr either sidelined or out of contention. Over final six laps of the 67-lap race Dillon Battistini -- who had passed pole sitter Matos at the start and grabbed the lead from Ana Beatriz on lap 2 -- held on James Davison to post his 4th 2008 win -- all at oval tracks. Battistini leapfrogged to 351 in the points and is now third tied with Arie Luyendyk Jr., who beat Antinucci at the finish line for third place.
RICHARD'S TAKE : "A top-four place? It's very good: Friday afternoon, after qualifying, my goal was to be in a Top 5 spot today and I got it. I'm thankful to the whole team -- Sam Schmidt, my engineer Ray Leto, Lucas Oil, LifeLock. It was just awesome. The car felt so good. I could go inside, outside. Once you get to the front, it's tougher to pass. On the long runs, I had the best car by far. It's just that [James] Davison and [Dillon] Battistini made it hard to get around them. With two cars, it was a two-lane race. I was trying to help James. I almost got both of them at one point. I tried to pass Davison on the outside with three laps to go going into Turn 1, and Arie [Luyendyk] got underneath me. He had the slip stream on me, and I got boxed to the outside. Still, I'm excited about the finish. This weekend reminded me a bit of Indy: a good race after an average qualifying. We've still got the points lead, we're first. It's awesome, but even after Rafa Matos' pole I was aware that the season would not have finished here, and we still have three rounds to go. We'll just go to Sonoma and look to build on our points lead there. I had a lot of success on that track last year, and I think it will be a good venue for me."