IRL: SAFR's Matsuura named Indy 500 top rookie

Matsuura Named Bank One Rookie of the Year INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (June 1, 2004) -- Kosuke Matsuura was selected by a panel of media and race officials as the Bank One Rookie of the Year at the Indianapolis 500 Victory Celebration held last evening...

Matsuura Named Bank One Rookie of the Year

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (June 1, 2004) -- Kosuke Matsuura was selected by a panel of media and race officials as the Bank One Rookie of the Year at the Indianapolis 500 Victory Celebration held last evening at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Matsuura, who started ninth and finished 11th aboard the #55 Panasonic ARTA Panoz G Force/Honda/Firestone, posted the highest qualifying and finishing positions among eight rookies competing in the 88th running of the Indianapolis 500 held Sunday.

"I am very happy to receive this great award," said Matsuura. "I was lucky because most of the other rookie drivers retired during the race, but I think I did my best on the track. We had a couple of unlucky things during the race, like the [malfunctioning] refueling system, but we did a good job the whole month and many times we were the fastest. We had a good qualifying time and the car was good in the race as well, and I am very happy to work with the Super Aguri Fernandez Racing team. It was a good party last night and I enjoyed it a lot."

Stark & Wetzel, an Indianapolis-based meatpacking firm, initiated the Rookie of the Year award in 1952. It was taken over by American Fletcher National Bank in 1980 and became the Bank One award in 1989 following an ownership change. In addition to being part of a long, distinguished list of former recipients -- including Mario and Michael Andretti and Juan Pablo Montoya -- Matsuura received a $25,000 bonus.

"Kosuke did an incredible job all month," said Tom Anderson, managing director of Super Aguri Fernandez Racing. "Not only did he bring a lot of talent to the Speedway, but he also improved throughout the month as he gained valuable experience. I know he will take that experience and carry it through the season, and will continue to maintain his lead for the rookie championship in '04."

Matsuura, 24, of Aichi, Japan, currently sits 11th in the IRL IndyCar® Series championship after four events on the 16-race schedule, only 10 points out of seventh place. He holds a 27-point lead in the Bombardier Rookie of the Year title chase.

Super Aguri Fernandez Racing will head to Ft. Worth, Texas, next week for Round Five of the championship -- the Bombardier 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on June 12.

-safr-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Michael Andretti , Tom Anderson , Kosuke Matsuura