IRL: Fontana: SAFR, Kosuke Matsuura preview

Matsuura Pursuing Rookie Crown at California Speedway Points Leader Could Clinch Bombardier Rookie of the Year Title Kosuke Matsuura [Kohs-kay Mat-sur-ah] could make his first career start at California Speedway a memorable one. A strong showing...

Matsuura Pursuing Rookie Crown at California Speedway
Points Leader Could Clinch Bombardier Rookie of the Year Title

Kosuke Matsuura [Kohs-kay Mat-sur-ah] could make his first career start at California Speedway a memorable one. A strong showing in Sunday's Toyota Indy 400 -- the second to last round of 2004 IRL IndyCar® Series competition -- could clinch Bombardier Rookie of the Year honors for Matsuura, who has led the rookie title chase since the start of the season.

Matsuura started second at Michigan, the most recent two-mile oval event. He followed up with a fourth-place run in the following race at Kentucky, but has suffered from DNF's (did not finish) the past two events due to mechanical problems.

Matsuura has displayed both confidence and talent on the larger ovals, and will be looking to end his first season of IndyCar Series competition with a strong showing.

* Will be making his 15th IRL IndyCar Series start
* Recorded his career-best finish of fourth at Kentucky Speedway
* Recorded his career-best starting position of second at Michigan
* Currently leads the Bombardier Rookie of the Year standings by 36 points
* Currently sits 13th in the championship standings
* Earned Bank One Rookie of the Year and American Dairy Association of Indiana's Fastest Rookie of the Year honors at the Indianapolis 500

Kosuke Matsuura, #55 Panasonic ARTA Panoz G Force/Honda/Firestone:

"Obviously, I am disappointed that we have had problems in the last two races and have not been able to finish. Hopefully that kind of luck is behind us now. There have been many times this year when we had a chance for a good finish and it didn't happen, but I think we showed our potential. I am very confident for this weekend. We had a very good car in Michigan, at the last big oval race, and I am working for a top-three finish this weekend. My focus is on good results in these last two races."

FAST FACTS: 25 years old from Aichi, Japan-- began his career in karts at the age of 14-- finished third in the 2003 Formula Renault V6 Eurocup-- finished second in the 2002 German Formula 3 Championship-- won the 2000 Japanese Formula Dream Series Championship before heading to Europe in 2001 to compete in German F3-- has been a member of Co-Owner Aguri Suzuki's ARTA (Autobacs Racing Team Aguri) driver development project since 1998 after climbing up the Japanese karting ranks--currently resides in Indianapolis, Indiana.

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Kosuke Matsuura , Aguri Suzuki