RAPHAEL MATOS PUTS TOGETHER A CAREER-BEST COMEBACK RUN TO FINISH EIGHTH IN THE HONDA GRAND PRIX OF ST. PETERSBURG ST. PETERSBURG, FL (March 29, 2010) - A back row start did nothing to distract Raphael Matos or the Luczo Dragon/de Ferran ...
RAPHAEL MATOS PUTS TOGETHER A CAREER-BEST COMEBACK RUN TO FINISH EIGHTH IN THE HONDA GRAND PRIX OF ST. PETERSBURG
ST. PETERSBURG, FL (March 29, 2010) - A back row start did nothing to distract Raphael Matos or the Luczo Dragon/de Ferran Motorsports crew from producing a stirring rally and 15 spot improvement to finish eighth in the rain delayed Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. Will Power, of Penske Racing, took the checkered flag to win his second consecutive race.
By rallying from 23rd to eighth, Matos not only delivered a second straight top 10 finish, but the 15 place improvement was a race-high, a career-high for Matos and the best in team history. He also led the race for three laps for the second time in his career.
"I'm so proud of Rafa's maturity and development," Luczo Dragon/de Ferran Motorsports co-owner and race strategist Jay Penske said. "From where we started the guys on this team really put together a car that could compete with the race leaders and Rafa ran a very smart race."
By coupling the eighth place finish with the fourth place run in Sao Paulo, the second year driver now sits fifth in the IZOD IndyCar Series standings with 56 points. Power is the leader with 100 points.
"After starting 23rd it really was a great day for us," Matos said. "The crew was flawless. I really believe we have the best crew in the paddock, I trust them completely and I just knew they would put me in the front."
The dramatic turn around was evident from the start when Matos moved up four positions on the first lap. He continued his climb all the way to the top, jumping into third on lap 27 and surging into the lead on lap 34 and holding it for three laps until coming in for the team's second stop.
"We were really strong in the first stint," Matos said. "It was exciting being in the lead. The car had really good balance and I was able to really push it hard."
Matos' strong run received quite a scare on the 65th lap when Mike Conway tried to squeeze out a daring pass in turn five only to clip the front wing of the #2 HP LDR/DFM car. The contact eliminated Conway, but Matos survived with minimal damage.
"The incident with Conway was unfortunate," Matos said. "He was just overly aggressive and the contact did something to the alignment of our car. We stayed in the race, but we paid for it in the end because I couldn't push it like before."
Matos did have enough to hold off Graham Rahal and Tony Kanaan to clinch eighth and record the 10th top 10 finish of his career. He collected 24 points for the effort. The 56 points after two races is the best two-race output in team history, topping the 46 points Matos produced back to back in Milwaukee and Texas last season.
The race was completed a day later than scheduled after rain washed away Sunday's start time. The green flag dropped under cloudy skies and 65 degrees, but dry conditions. The 100 laps were completed in just over two hours.
-source: de ferran motorsports