Homestead: de Ferran Dragon Racing preview

HOMESTAND AT HOMESTEAD Raphael Matos and the de Ferran Dragon Racing team head to Homestead Miami Speedway for the Cafes do Brasil Indy 300 looking for a strong finish to the 2010 IZOD IndyCar season. It will be the second IndyCar appearance ...

Raphael Matos and the de Ferran Dragon Racing team head to Homestead Miami Speedway for the Cafes do Brasil Indy 300 looking for a strong finish to the 2010 IZOD IndyCar season. It will be the second IndyCar appearance for Matos and third time overall that he has raced at his home track. The 29- year old Miami resident finished 14th in the season finale last year. In 2008, he started on pole and finished eighth in the Firestone Indy Lights season opener at Homestead.

Raphael Matos was racing for the Rookie of the Year award in the Homestead finale last year. While he is not pursuing hardware this year, Matos feels he is an improved driver entering the 2010 finale. "I feel like I am a better driver this year than last year," Matos said. "Everything comes more natural to me. The racing situations are more familiar, I know what to expect from the drivers I am driving against. I feel like a more complete driver for sure."

Raphael Matos has improved as a driver thanks to experience and to the guidance he has received from Gil de Ferran. "He's been a great value to me. I am able to relate to a lot of stuff that he says and he knows exactly what I'm talking about. The communication, the technical side, all the cockpit stuff has all been very valuable to me. We are always trying to understand what's going on with the car and he always has good input because he understands the situation 100 percent. We are always trying our best and always trying new things. He's been a great boss."

"I didn't work with Rafa last year, but I certainly feel that our performances improved as a whole as the year went on and Rafa was an important part of this improvement. The direction that a driver provides to the engineering group is vital the overall performance of a team. As Rafa matures and becomes more experienced his input in this regard has become more and more valuable."

"Racing here is a difficult because the shape of the track usually gives you understeer, but in race because it's cooling down and it's late in the day you can be facing a different condition, especially on the restarts. We had a fast qualifying last year (9th) but we didn't quite have the speed in the race."

Aside from having a chance to improve the team's position in the championship standings, managing partner and team president Gil de Ferran is looking for a positive result in Miami in order to build momentum heading into 2011. "It would be nice to finish the year on a high. The enthusiasm of a good result always bodes well for the winter in terms of morale. What a "high" is, I am afraid is hard to define. Obviously a top 10 result would be nice, but there are other factors that we can consider positive once the weekend is over."

Raphael Matos led a career-high 15 laps for de Ferran Dragon Racing at Twin Ring Motegi. Matos started 19th, quickly jumped into the top 12 and took the lead when the team elected to stay out on the track instead of pitting with the leaders during the third caution of the race. He held the lead for 15 laps and remained in the top three until having to pit on lap 102. When Paul Tracy hit the wall and caused the fourth caution of the race 10 laps later, de Ferran Dragon's pit strategy was spoiled. Matos stayed out on track once again when the leaders went to the pits during the fourth yellow to cycle back onto the lead lap. He remained in that spot the remainder of the race to finish 18th.

With the IZOD IndyCar Series set to crown a champion at Homestead Miami Speedway, Raphael Matos will be focused on two things: finishing high and staying out of the way. "At this point, at least for me, I will try to stay out of the way of Will (Power) and Dario (Franchitti), because I don't want to interfere in their pursuit of the championship. I will try as hard as I can to improve my position in the championship and finish as high as I can in the race. I need to have a mistake free race, it's very important."

At the start of the 2009 IndyCar season, Raphael Matos had a primary goal of winning the Rookie of the Year crown. It took a full 17 races to get there, but the goal was accomplished with a 14th place finish in the season finale at Homestead. Matos started the race in Homestead 25 points ahead of Robert Doornbos in the rookie battle. Doornbos needed to finish top two and have Matos finish back of the pack to make up enough ground to unseat the determined Brazilian. By running a safe and steady race Matos made sure an upset was not in the cards. The Air Force Luczo Dragon car started ninth and remained in the top 12 for the majority of the race. Matos was poised to record his fifth consecutive top 10 finish, but low fuel forced a fourth pit stop with four laps left, dropping him from 10th to 14th at the checkered flag. One yellow flag would have eliminated the need for a fourth stop, but for the first time in IndyCar Series history the race there was not a single caution. In the end, Dario Franchitti avoided a fourth pit stop to beat out Ryan Briscoe and Scott Dixon and earn the 2009 IndyCar Championship. Matos finished the season in 13th place with 312 points.

-source: de ferran dragon racing

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Gil de Ferran , Paul Tracy , Dario Franchitti , Scott Dixon , Robert Doornbos , Ryan Briscoe
Teams Dragon Racing