Rafa Matos Looking Forward to Indianapolis Debut with Liberty Challenge Pro Series Race INDIANAPOLIS, Ind., June 28, 2006 -- The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is the ultimate goal for drivers from around the world. This weekend, Raphael Matos...
Rafa Matos Looking Forward to Indianapolis Debut with Liberty Challenge Pro Series Race
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind., June 28, 2006 -- The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is the ultimate goal for drivers from around the world. This weekend, Raphael Matos will have a chance to compete at the world famous race course during the Liberty Challenge Indy Pro Series event on July 1. Not only is the native of Belo Horizonte, Brazil, who now calls Miami home, entered in the support event for the United States Grand Prix, he comes to the 2.606-mile infield road course as a top contender for the victory. Matos, best known in motorsports as Rafa, has reason to be looking forward to the 25 lap/65 mile event driving the No. 41 Guthrie Racing/Car Crafters Special. He has won twice thus far as an Indy Pro Series rookie, taken one pole position and was the fastest in pre-event testing here on the Indianapolis course- which runs in the opposite direction of the oval course that made the Speedway world renown- on June 20.
"It's a pretty exciting weekend racing with F1 and in front of the big crowd," commented Rafa. "It is one of the most important weekends for the Pro Series. It is a big weekend for me but I am approaching it as any other weekend. You can't think too much about it being a big weekend. You just have to focus and concentrate on the car. But, definitely it is a big weekend racing in front of all the big teams."
The 2005 Star Mazda Series Champion has only run at the two road course venues (two events at St. Petersburg, Fla. and one at Watkins Glen International) in the Indy Pro Series thus far this season. All three races were in the Guthrie Racing car. He won from the pole position in the first race on the St. Petersburg street course and followed that with another victory, this time from sixth on the grid, the following day.
Matos was not expecting to compete in this weekend's race in Indianapolis. However, he was called the afternoon before testing was to take place a week ago to substitute for Sean Guthrie (Albuquerque, NM). Guthrie was not cleared to drive following a testing accident at the Milwaukee Mile and therefore would not be able to take part in the test. He made the last minute dash to Indianapolis arriving two hours into the one-day Open Test. The Jim Guthrie-owned team focused on race setup the remainder of the morning session finding a good balance that will give the young Brazilian a strong car during the event. Late in the afternoon session, they put on their second, and last, set of tires and ran a simulated qualifying lap. The time of one minute, 26.2657 seconds (108.502 mph) was four-tenths quicker than his nearest competitor. Matos felt there was still more in the car.
"It was pretty clear we were the quickest car at the test. There are still a couple of things we can work on that I think will make the car better. We'll start the weekend with those changes. If that doesn't work then we will go back to the setup at the test. Since the car was so good in testing, we can risk a little more in the practice to see if the changes will make it even better. I think, depending on [Jay] Howard's results, if I win, I can leave Indy second in the points."
The Liberty Challenge will be run on July 1 in support of the United States Grand Prix Formula One race. The event will be broadcast on a tape delay basis on ESPN2, July 6 at 2 PM (ET). Live timing and scoring, as well as news, can be found at Indy Pro Series web link at www.IndyCar.com.
For more on Rafa Matos, please visit www.RafaMatos.com.
To find out more about Guthrie Racing, click on www.Guthrie-Racing.com.
To learn more about Rafa's Champ Car Atlantic Series team, Sierra Sierra, log-on to www.SierraSierra.com.