Iowa: de Ferran Dragon Racing preview

RETURN TO IOWA The de Ferran Dragon Racing team heads to Iowa looking for significant improvement from last year's Iowa Corn 250 at Iowa Speedway. Raphael Matos' day ended early with a 16th place finish after he got loose in turn 1 and collided...


The de Ferran Dragon Racing team heads to Iowa looking for significant improvement from last year's Iowa Corn 250 at Iowa Speedway. Raphael Matos' day ended early with a 16th place finish after he got loose in turn 1 and collided with Mario Moraes in turn 2 on the 54th lap. It was the last DNF Matos would have during his rookie campaign. He went on to finish 15 consecutive races, including the first five this season. This will be Matos' third race at Iowa Speedway. He finished 7th in the Firestone Indy Lights race in 2008.


"That race weekend was difficult. We had never been on that track as a team, never tested there and practice got rained out so we never really figured out the right setup. What we did learn in the race and from the limited practice time gives us a good idea on how to set up this year. We certainly know what not to do. We have a good idea on where we should be with our down force levels. We have had a good racecar in Indy and in Texas where we were strong in traffic and passed a lot of cars. I would expect the same in Iowa, where we qualify okay and have a strong car for the race. Pit stops will be very important because it will another way for us to gain more positions."


"Iowa is now unique in the schedule, we used to have several short ovals races, but unfortunately this is now the only short oval we race on. The team learned many lessons during last year's event, which we'll apply going into this coming weekend. It would be nice to come out of Iowa with a top ten finish. This race will also be the only time we'll run the car in this aerodynamic configuration, and, in general, the requirements are quite different than they have been in other ovals. Nevertheless there are indeed a few things we have been noting which could carry over to Iowa, but I am not going to tell you what they are!"


"The shape and the banking of the corners are different in both ends of the track in Iowa," Matos said. "Turn one is tighter and in turn two the car tends to have more under steer. It's not like Texas or Chicago where the corners and banking are basically the same all the way around. It's very difficult to make the car good in both ends."


Raphael Matos bounced back from a tough finish in the Indianapolis 500 by climbing seven positions to finish 16th in the IZOD IndyCar Firestone 550 at Texas Motor Speedway. But it could have been better. Matos, starting 23rd, climbed as high as 11th before trouble in the pits late in the race spoiled a potential top 10 run. Matos proved to have a competitive car right from the start as he improved two spots on the first lap, jumped to 18th on the 11th lap and was top 15 by lap 34. He made it as high as 11th on the 53rd lap and remained in the top 14 until the final stop. Matos was running 12th when he came in for what was expected to be his final stop on lap 188, but he had to return to the pits on the following lap to check the right rear tire as a precaution. He fell two laps behind and dropped to 18th.


The de Ferran Dragon Racing team has hit a few bumps lately after enjoying a fast start to the 2010 IZOD IndyCar season. The team has recorded 14 points in each of the last three races and now sits in 14th in the championship standings. "We have had a difficult time in the pits during the last couple of races and obviously we have to address that," team president and managing partner Gil de Ferran said. "Regardless, what our excellent performance in Indianapolis showed me is that we continue to be desperately short of testing time and how much we benefited from running two cars with two competitive drivers. Overall, though, I believe we are improving and hopefully we will become a more consistent threat as the championship wears on."


It's no secret that the de Ferran Dragon Racing team had its hands full assembling one racecar in time for Texas after losing both cars to accidents at the Indianapolis 500. This week they have been flat out getting the second car reassembled for the Iowa race. The car returned from the body shop Tuesday, giving the crew just over two days to get the backup car prepared for Thursday's departure. In addition to the full time crew, three holdovers from Davey Hamilton's team have stayed on to help expedite the rebuild.


Aside from providing their skills as mechanics and over the wall guys, Josh Junge and Rick Campbell can deliver inside information to the team about "The Food Capital of the World." Junge grew up in Keystone, IA, just over an hour away from the Iowa Speedway, and Campbell spent six years in Ames, IA before heading to Indianapolis full time in 2000. Both Junge and Campbell raced IMCA cars before starting their careers as mechanics in the IZOD IndyCar Series. Junge, a Benton Community High School graduate, raced modifieds at Benton County Speedway for three years before joining Cahill Racing in Indianapolis in 1998. Campbell was in Ames from 1993-99 racing modifieds and stock cars for CCC Racing. Boone Speedway, Hamilton County Speedway and Greenbelt Speedway were his most frequented tracks. He left Iowa to join Shelby Howard's team in the ARCA Series in 2000.


While he confesses that he wasn't much of a soccer player growing up, Matos will be one of many Brazilians following the World Cup closely. He watched Brazil's first game from the gokart shop in Miami. Matos has begun prep work on his gokart to race in the Super Nationals event in Las Vegas in November. "I haven't paid close attention to the Brazilian team, but they always have very talented players," Matos said. "It's just a matter of not having egos get in the way of the team. It seems like they have had guys who want to show off, but the World Cup is all about being a team. Everybody is really good. I watched Germany the other day and they seem very strong. With the talent Brazil has if we play together we will have a good chance. I will be watching." Matos plans to watch much of the World Cup in a Brazilian bar in Miami so that he can be as boisterous as his fellow Brazilians. "Brazil won the World Cup when I first moved to Miami in 2002. The party was a lot fun and I'd like to be part of that again."

-source: dfdr

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Davey Hamilton , Gil de Ferran , Shelby Howard , Mario Moraes
Teams Dragon Racing