St. Pete: Luczo Dragon Racing preview

FAST FACTS RAPHAEL MATOS Residence: Miami, FL Nickname: Rapha Years in IndyCar: First Car Wins: 19 Car Championships: (6) 2008 Firestone Indy Lights, 2008 GT Cars Rolex 24, 2007 ChampCar Atlantic, 2005 Star Mazda Pro Series, 2003 Formula Dodge...

Residence: Miami, FL
Nickname: Rapha
Years in IndyCar: First

Car Wins: 19
Car Championships: (6) 2008 Firestone Indy Lights, 2008 GT Cars Rolex 24, 2007 ChampCar Atlantic, 2005 Star Mazda Pro Series, 2003 Formula Dodge National Championship, 2001 Chevrolet Formula Junior


While he will be making his IndyCar Series debut for Luczo Dragon Racing, driver Raphael Matos has enjoyed a great deal of success on the streets of St. Petersburg. The 27-year old Brazilian has won three of the four times he has raced in St. Petersburg, including back-to-back wins in his very first Firestone Indy Lights races in 2006. Matos' other win in St. Pete came last year when he claimed the Indy Lights pole and held the lead from start to finish.


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).


"St. Pete is one of my favorite tracks. It is quite bumpy, all types of corners, good passing zone in the end of the front straight, beautiful area and a lots of fans. This is one of my favorites events. I won 3 out of 4 Indy Light races there and had 2 pole positions."


"It was extremely important. It was my first chance to work with the car. I'm still learning about the car, learning about the set up the car and our team environment. I have been able to work on my communication with our engineers, that chemistry is so important. We have all learned a lot in a short period that will help us as the season starts."


"Sebring was very important for us because it will help us prepare for St. Pete and Long Beach. It was a great simulation of those tracks. It's very bumpy there so now we have an idea of what we'll face at St. Pete and we learned our strengths and weaknesses on street course conditions. We will use all that data from Sebring and put together a good package for St. Pete."


Race strategist Jay Penske; Engineer Ray Leto; Engineer/Fuel data Brian Page; Data engineer/Fuel deadman Daniel Louks; Chief Mechanic/outside front John Piccinotti; Inside front Josh Junge; Outside rear Rob Maxey; Inside rear Tim White; Jackman Pete Bloathner; Fueler James Stevens; Front tire pass Simon Morley; Rear tire pass Scott Simpson; Stop Sign John Cummiskey; Front hose pull Darren Newport; Spotter Cole Carter


By partnering with a dozen champion athletes each of the last two years, Luczo Dragon Racing has established a unique charity drive that has delivered more than $1 million to charitable organizations Worldwide. The LDR community development program was designed by team co-owners Steve Luczo and Jay Penske to raise money, increase exposure to the sport of auto racing and encourage a philanthropic spirit that inspires others to make an impact in their communities.

"Steve and Jay have put together a great program that supports so many important causes," said Donovan McNabb, five-time Pro Bowl quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles and member of the LDR team of champions. "Not only have they allowed me to join an amazing team of athletes doing phenomenal things on and off the field, but they have provided resources to my foundation to help our fight against diabetes, something I'm very passionate about. Luczo Dragon's support will go a long way in providing for kids and families battling the disease."


The beneficiaries of the Luczo Dragon profit donation program are: Always Dream Foundation (Kristi Yamaguchi), All Stars Helping Kids (Marcus Allen, Ronnie Lott), Bay Area Women's Sports Initiative (Brandi Chastain), Chase the Stars Foundation (Kerri Walsh), Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Indiana Chapter (Rick Mears), Donovan McNabb Foundation (Donovan McNabb), Fisher House, Colorado Chapter (John Elway), Four Rings Montana Family Foundation (Joe Montana), Jackson Community College Foundation Wilbur Dungy Endowment (Tony Dungy), Joe Torre Safe at Home Foundation (Joe Torre), Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (Sugar Ray Leonard), Northern California Special Olympics/Camp Okizu (Chris Mullin), Serena Williams Foundation (Serena Williams), Sports4Kids (Natalie Coughlin), Steve Nash Foundation (Steve Nash), Success Through the Arts Foundation (Jackson Browne), Team Play (Baron Davis), The B'Leaf Team ALS Patient Care (Joe Thornton), Turtle Ridge Foundation (Bode Miller), UNESCO (Venus Williams), Wayne Gretzky Foundation (Wayne Gretzky), Women's Sports Foundation (Laila Ali).


To say Luczo Dragon's charity team of champions has been successful is an understatement. Combined, the 2007 and 2008 Luczo Dragon Racing team of champions have won 13 Super Bowls, 17 Olympic Gold Medals, 37 Grand Slam victories, 12 World Championships, 11 World Cups, 14 Wimbledon titles, five World Series titles, four Stanley Cups, four Indy 500 championships, eight US Open crowns, 17 League MVPs, five Super Bowl MVPs, one Heisman Trophy, 12 Hall of Fame inductions and more than 100 All-Star team selections.

-credit: ldr

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Rick Mears , Skip Barber , Cole Carter , Joe Montana , John Elway , James Stevens
Teams Williams , Dragon Racing