TIME FOR TEXAS After gaining valuable short oval experience and moving up two spots in pit lane with the sixth place finish and 28 points in Milwaukee, Luczo Dragon Racing and Raphael Matos will take the ...
TIME FOR TEXAS
After gaining valuable short oval experience and moving up two spots in pit lane with the sixth place finish and 28 points in Milwaukee, Luczo Dragon Racing and Raphael Matos will take the #2 Air Force car for a run at the Bombardier Learjet 550k at Texas Motor Speedway. It will be LDR's second appearance at the super speedway. Last year, Luczo Dragon qualified sixth, but finished 25th when a crash eliminated them on lap 56. Matos will be making his first appearance in Texas. He performed his first test outing with the Luczo Dragon team at Texas Motor Speedway in December.
Raphael Matos rebounded nicely from a devastating finish at the Indianapolis 500 with his second top 10 and a career-best sixth place finish at the Milwaukee Mile. The pain in his right knee proved to be the only lingering effect from Indianapolis as Matos ran top five for 41 laps and top 7 for 187 of the 225 laps. He started ninth. Slower traffic in the final 20 laps hindered his pursuit of fifth place finisher Danica Patrick. Matos suffered a bruised right knee and a mild concussion in the accident with Vitor Meira on lap 173 of the 2009 Indianapolis 500. An Impact Test last week with a neurologist in Miami revealed the concussion.
With a career-best sixth place finish and 28 points at the Milwaukee Mile, Raphael Matos has moved atop the Bombardier Rookie of the Year Standings. Matos nosed in front of Robert Doornbos by a mere three points to claim the top spot for the first time this season. Doornbos had led the first four weeks, but back-to-back strong performances in Indianapolis and Milwaukee allowed Matos to overcome an 11-point deficit. He ranks 14th overall.
The sixth place finish is the second highest finish in team history, behind the fifth place finish Ryan Briscoe registered for the team at the 2007 Indianapolis 500. It was the third top 10 in team history. Matos' previous best finish was eighth in Long Beach. He was running top five for much of the day last week at the Indy 500 before crashing with Vitor Meira on lap 173.
One thing rookie Raphael Matos has shown this season, especially the last two weeks, is that he can run with the IndyCar Series leaders. With the exception of Kansas, Matos has been highly competitive, qualifying ninth or better three times and running top five in three of the five races. "Everywhere we have been we have shown a good pace, top 10, top six. At Texas I expect to run up front again. We tested there early and the car was really good. Hopefully we can match that performance and keep our momentum."
RAFA'S TEXAS SCOUTING REPORT
"Texas is a flat out track and the highest banking track of the championship. It's very fast with lots of side by side racing. The higher you go the bumpier it gets so the car needs to be good if you are on the outside. The aerodynamics has to be smooth and very efficient. It's a fun track and I like racing at night. It's good for the fans. We had a fast car there when we tested and hopefully we'll be able to match that performance."
RAFA'S ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT
"We have a very good team and it has showed all season, especially the month of May. We still have a lot of room for improvement. We have been a top 5, top 6 team and it will take more from all of us to get to the top three. That's what we're all trying to achieve."
Luczo Dragon Racing co-owner Steve Luczo will miss the race at Texas Motor Speedway as he presents scholarships and receives honorary citizenship in Corleone, Italy this weekend. Luczo will be in Sicily to present scholarships in his mother Rose Luczo's honor to students in Corleone, his family's hometown, Friday, June 5. He and Philip G. Zimbardo, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus at Stanford University, will receive honorary citizenship the following day in a ceremony at City Hall.
Shaquille O'Neal, the man with many talents and many nicknames, including The Diesel, will join the Luczo Dragon Racing Team for the race at Texas Motor Speedway. Aside from becoming a part of LDR's charity team of champions, O'Neal will be the Grand Marshal and will ride in the pace car with three-time Indy 500 champion Johnny Rutherford to start the race. "I am excited about being the Grand Marshal and coming to my first IndyCar race at Texas Motor Speedway this weekend," O'Neal said. "Since they won't let me enter the race I'll do the next best thing and start the race in the pace car. I'm sure Johnny Rutherford can teach me a few things during the ride so when the day comes and I do get to race an IndyCar I'll be ready."
By partnering with champion athletes each year, Luczo Dragon Racing has established a unique charity drive that has delivered more than $1 million to charitable organizations Worldwide. In 2009, they have added Shaquille O'Neal to their team of champions. "We are proud to have Shaquille O'Neal join our team of champions," Steve Luczo said. "Shaq has demonstrated that leadership, competitiveness, winning and compassion can all be achieved at the same time. As one of the most recognized Champions in sports, and as a positive role model through his many community and social efforts, Shaq is the ideal individual to help Luczo Dragon Racing further its success. On top of that, his father is a military veteran, which is particularly relevant to our expanded mission of supporting wounded and fallen soldiers and their families."
With the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Marine Corps as their primary partners in 2009, much of the team's charitable focus will turn to organizations that support wounded and fallen heroes and their families. The LDR community development program was designed by team co-owners Jay Penske and Luczo 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.
The beneficiaries of the Luczo Dragon profit donation program have been: 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).