Mid-Ohio: Series Friday practice notes

LEXINGTON, Ohio, Friday, July 18, 2008 - Raphael Matos and Jonny Reid topped practice as Firestone Indy Lights prepares for the Mid-Ohio 100 doubleheader. *** Raphael Matos will compete in three races for Andretti Green Racing at Mid-Ohio...

LEXINGTON, Ohio, Friday, July 18, 2008 - Raphael Matos and Jonny Reid topped practice as Firestone Indy Lights prepares for the Mid-Ohio 100 doubleheader.

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Raphael Matos will compete in three races for Andretti Green Racing at Mid-Ohio this weekend. The team announced that Matos will compete in both Firestone Indy Lights races (July 19-20) in the No. 27 Automatic Fire Sprinklers Inc. car along with the July 19 race in its No. 26 XM Satellite Radio LMP2 entry on the 2.258-mile, 13-turn circuit. Supplementing the races will be practice and qualifications.

RAPHAEL MATOS: "I don't think it will be a big issue because I know what to expect from both cars because I tested both cars at Mid-Ohio and it is a track I know well. We had successful tests there, and I think both teams are well-prepared for the challenge. The biggest challenge for me will be on the physical side. I've been prepared all year long, and I think I'm ready for it. I think it will be very important to be focused on the Indy Lights since we're in the battle for the championship, and at the same time I want to help Acura and Andretti Green get another victory with the prototype team.

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Wade Cunningham is driving the No. 24 Alliance Motorsports car in the Firestone Indy Lights races. He was runner-up to Richard Antinucci in last year's inaugural Firestone Indy Lights event at Mid-Ohio for AFS Racing.

Cunningham, the 2005 series champion, has competed in four events with Brian Stewart Racing this season (three top-10 finishes, with a best of third in the Firestone Freedom 100 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway).

TYCE CARLSON (Co-owner, Alliance Motorsports): "We are very fortunate to have Wade drive for us this weekend, and are excited to reunite him with Doug Zister, who is our engineer, and who was a part of Wade's previous successes in this series.

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J.R. Hildebrand, driver of the No. 25 Allied Building Products entry in Firestone Indy Lights, is making his first series start at Mid-Ohio, however, he has visited victory lane at the facility numerous times.

J.R. HILDEBRAND: "I've won all four F2000 races that I've been in at Mid-Ohio. That was in 2006. I won an SCCA Atlantic race there at the end of 2006 as well. I clinched the F2000 championship at Mid-Ohio by winning the third race there."

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Daniel Herrington, who was third fastest in Firestone Indy Lights practice, also showed well in practice at Mid-Ohio last year. Herrington made five starts for upstart team SpeedWorks last year, recording three consecutive top-10 finishes at Indianapolis 2, Watkins Glen 1 and Watkins Glen 2. He came to Mid-Ohio and recorded the second- and third-fastest practice speeds in the first two sessions, respectively. At one point, he had the fastest speed during qualifying, however, he crashed during that session and ended up starting 23rd. Herrington moved up as high as 12th during the race but spun off course in Turn 1 on Lap 37. He finished 20th.

Herrington has been spotting for IndyCar Series driver Graham Rahal while working to get back into the driver's seat. He competed in both Watkins Glen events for Michael Crawford Motorsports, finishing eighth and 15th. He is back with the team this weekend.

DANIEL HERRINGTON (No. 6 Michael Crawford Motorsports, third fastest): "The weekend is going well so far. I haven't been here in a year, and this is only the second time I've been in the car in a year, so I'm pretty happy to be running up front. We kept the old tires on the car for second practice and ran it out. I think a few people put stickers on, so they were quicker. I'm pretty happy with the car. We made a few changes here and there. We still have qualifying and a race, so we'll see what happens."

(About if Graham Rahal has given him any advice on Mid-Ohio): "I've been over there hanging out with the team. Actually it's funny because Indy Lights practices before the IndyCar Series, so they're asking me, 'How's the track? What did you do? How's it working?' I've been coming here three or four years now, and it's one of my favorite places. It's good to be back."

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FIRESTONE INDY LIGHTS POST-PRACTICE QUOTES:

RAPHAEL MATOS (No. 27 Automatic Fire Sprinklers, fastest): "It's so different because it's so greasy because of the hot weather and the different rubbers on the track. I believe we started the session a little bit slow, but we made the proper change and we made the car better. I think we were pretty good. We didn't put on new tires in the end, so I think we're in pretty good shape."

JONNY REID (No. 9 Integra, second): "The team has done a fantastic job since the mess we had at Nashville. To be here racing with the car is one thing, so a big thanks to the Integra motorsports guys for getting us here to race and doing a fantastic job. As for the road conditions, the car was strong and my team did a great job getting it ready for this week. It was very challenging going from last race to this course, and it is hard to get it consistent. We have had our ups and downs, more downs than ups but we are looking to qualifying tomorrow and hoping to perform. We are gaining experience."

FRANCK PERERA (No. 55 CJ Consulting Guthrie Racing, fifth): "Today's practice was good, especially since it's my first time at the track. It's a very tough circuit, and the rubber on the track is changing often with the temperature. First we learn, and now we try to improve the car. We were able to put down some fast laps in practice. It's good for team confidence going into qualifying and the race."

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SATURDAY'S SCHEDULE (all times local):
11-11:30 a.m. SWE Pole Qualifying
4:55 p.m. Mid-Ohio 100 Race 1 pre-race
5:25 p.m. Mid-Ohio 100 Race 1 (40 laps/90.3 miles)

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The 2008 IndyCar Series season continues with the Honda Indy 200 at Mid Ohio Presented by Westfield Insurance July 20 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. The race will be telecast live in High Definition at 1:30 p.m. (EDT) by ABC. The race will air live on the IMS Radio Network. A Spanish-language telecast of the race will be carried by ESPNDeportes. The IMS Radio Network broadcast also is carried on XM Satellite Radio and www.indycar.com. The 2008 Firestone Indy Lights season continues with a doubleheader race weekend at Mid Ohio Sports Car Course. The first Mid-Ohio 100 is scheduled for 5:25 p.m., on July 19. The second race will take plac eat 10:35 a.m., on July 20. Both races will air at 2 p.m. (EDT) July 24 on ESPN2 and live on www.indycar.com.

-credit: irl

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About this article
Series Indy Lights
Drivers Graham Rahal , Wade Cunningham , Daniel Herrington , Jonny Reid , J.R. Hildebrand