Birmingham: de Ferran Luzo Dragon race report

Late caution undermines brave strategic call Birmingham, Alabama - April 11, 2010. Raphael Matos and the Luczo Dragon/de Ferran Motorsports team employed a daring two-stop race strategy in hopes of making big gains, but a late yellow flag ...

Late caution undermines brave strategic call

Birmingham, Alabama - April 11, 2010. Raphael Matos and the Luczo Dragon/de Ferran Motorsports team employed a daring two-stop race strategy in hopes of making big gains, but a late yellow flag spoiled their hopes and left the team 14th in the inaugural Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at the Barber Motorsports Park.

After struggling to get maximum performance from the alternative tires in qualifying, Matos qualified in a disappointing 18th position and encouraged the team to adopt a unconventional race strategy - a move which appeared to be on target to give the Brazilian his third consecutive top ten finish. Matos, who was in fuel saving mode the entire race, was in 16th with less than 10 laps remaining, but had enough fuel to make it to the end, while several of the leaders were facing quick costly refuelling stops that could have changed the leaderboard significantly. Sadly, though, a late race crash by Simona De Silvestro brought out only the second yellow flag of the day with four laps remaining and a big shake-up was avoided.

"We elected to do a two-stop strategy, which we knew from the start would be very tight," Luczo Dragon/de Ferran Motorsports managing partner and president Gil de Ferran said. "It was a unique race where everyone finished and there were very few incidents. We were able to make up a few positions with that strategy, but not as many as we had initially hoped."

After struggling in qualifying on Saturday, the team made adjustments to the car overnight that allowed Matos to finish an encouraging second behind pole sitter Will Power in Sunday morning warm-up. With the two-stop strategy in place, Matos climbed as high as seventh when the leaders came into the pits on lap 13 after the first caution flag dropped. Passing was limited, especially with Matos focused on saving fuel.

"It was a fuel-mileage race for us today," Matos said. "Our strategy didn't work 100% the way we planned with the yellows and that last yellow flag really didn't help us. I couldn't really push all day, because we were working on fuel strategy. But, in the end, we gained four spots. We just have to keep working to get better on the next two road courses."

By finishing 14th, Matos collected 16 points and finds himself in eighth place on the season with 72 points. Will Power sits atop the standings with 136 points and is followed by Castroneves (104) and Dario Franchitti (92).

"It was a difficult race, but considering where we started I think we can go home fairly satisfied with the result," de Ferran said. "Overall, I believe we learned a lot this weekend and we're still in the top 10 in the Championship going into Long Beach where Rafa had one of his best showings last year."

-source: de ferran motorsports

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Gil de Ferran , Dario Franchitti , Will Power