Long Beach: Luczo Dragon Racing preview

LONG BEACH RUN Raphael Matos may be an IndyCar Series rookie, but he is quite familiar with the streets of Long Beach. Matos started from the pole position and won the Imperial Capital Bank Atlantic Challenge at the Long Beach Grand Prix in 2007.

LONG BEACH RUN

Raphael Matos may be an IndyCar Series rookie, but he is quite familiar with the streets of Long Beach. Matos started from the pole position and won the Imperial Capital Bank Atlantic Challenge at the Long Beach Grand Prix in 2007. He collected 34 points with the flag-to-flag victory, leading all 31 laps and recording the event's fastest lap (1:16.554/92.546 mph). It was the second of three consecutive races Matos would win to start the 2007 Atlantic season. He went on to win the series championship with 341 points for Sierra Sierra Enterprises. In his very first race at Long Beach as an Atlantic rookie in 2006, Matos qualified third and finished runner up to Andreas Wirth by just .840 of a second.

ARMED FORCES PARTNERS

The United States Marine Corps and United States Air Force have partnered with Luczo Dragon Racing to support the #2 car throughout the 2009 IndyCar season. In addition, Luczo Dragon will focus its annual charity drive on organizations that support fallen heroes and their families. LDR ran the #2 Marines car in St. Petersburg and will run the Air Force car in the next three races: Long Beach, Kansas and the Indianapolis 500. They will return to the Marines car in Milwaukee.

RAFA'S LONG BEACH SCOUTING REPORT

"Great event, very traditional and fun track. The hairpin right before the front straight is probably the most difficult part of the track. That corner is very slow and tight and you need to get a good exit speed otherwise you are going to loose on the whole straightway. I really enjoy Long Beach. I had the pole position and won a Champ Car Atlantic race there in 2007."

COMPARING LONG BEACH AND ST. PETE

"They are quite different. Long Beach is much bumpier and that's the biggest difference. The aerodynamics of the car should be similar to St. Pete and the level of grip is a bit better in Long Beach. It is very difficult to pass so you will need a good and consistent car and a good qualifying position."

ST. PETE SUMMARY

While the race in St. Petersburg did not deliver the results the Luczo Dragon team had hoped for, there were several encouraging signs before the collision with Danica Patrick. After two difficult days of practice, the team adjusted and put together a car that helped Raphael Matos qualify ninth. Matos jumped from ninth to sixth in the very first turn, but debris from the first turn accident between Graham Rahal and Tony Kanaan slashed his right front tire and forced an early pit stop on lap three, dropping Matos to 16th. Undeterred, Matos went to work, making six passes from laps 4-31, the third best improvement of the day, trailing only Rahal and Kanaan, who made up nine positions each.

ROOKIE RAFA

The 2009 IndyCar season marks the fifth time Raphael Matos has been a rookie in an American racing series. He has proven to be quite competitive in each of his debut seasons. Matos was Skip Barber Rookie of the Year after winning the Formula Dodge National Shootout in 2002. He was a Star Mazda series rookie in 2004, finishing seventh in the standings despite not starting until week two. He claimed one pole at Mosport and had a season-best second place finish at Road America that year. Matos made the jump to the Champ Car Atlantic Championship Series in 2006 and finished fourth in the point standings for the Sierra Sierra team. He recorded one win (San Jose), three poles, four podium finishes and was second in laps led. With Andretti Green Racing in 2008, Matos secured the Firestone Indy Lights crown with three wins, eight top 5s and 13 top 10s. He led the league in poles (5), top 10 finishes (13), laps led (190) and races led (5).

-credit: ldr

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tony Kanaan , Graham Rahal , Skip Barber , Andreas Wirth , Danica Patrick
Teams Dragon Racing