An interview with Raphael Matos Indy Racing League Teleconference Transcript September 2, 2008 THE MODERATOR: Good afternoon, everyone. Thank you for joining us for today's Indy Racing League teleconference. We have several guests joining ...
An interview with Raphael Matos
Indy Racing League Teleconference Transcript
September 2, 2008
THE MODERATOR: Good afternoon, everyone. Thank you for joining us for today's Indy Racing League teleconference. We have several guests joining us this afternoon. In a few minutes, we'll be joined by our Firestone Indy Lights championship contenders Raphael Matos and Richard Antinucci. Joining us to start the call is our IndyCar Series points leader Scott Dixon, as well as 2007 IndyCar Series champion, Dario Franchitti. Just an update, Helio Castroneves is unable to join us today. The entire No. 3 Penske team is focused on a run at the championship, and Helio will be available when he gets to the track at Chicagoland Speedway.
THE MODERATOR: Raphael, appreciate you taking the time to join us. Raphael Matos is first in points with three wins this year on the road courses at St. Petersburg, Watkins Glen and Mid-Ohio. Also four poles this season. On the mile-and-a-half ovals, he has a best finish of sixth at Kentucky Speedway.
You've had wins this year on the road courses. Of course, this is your first season really competing on ovals. The championship battle comes down to a race on a mile-and-a-half oval. Tell us a little bit about your approach to the weekend and having to win a championship on an oval.
RAPHAEL MATOS: Well, I think the approach will be pretty much the same as everywhere we've been. We show great speed pretty much everywhere we've been. Obviously we won three races in a road course, but we had two pole positions at the mile-and-a-half oval course. So we tested last week at Chicago and we showed great speed. We definitely have a great car for that track.
You know, I'm looking forward to it. I think it will be a tough weekend, will be hard racing, but I think we're ready for it. I think we'll have an extremely good package for that race.
THE MODERATOR: Chicago is really known, as far as the Firestone Indy Lights racing, for some very close finishes, a lot of side-by-side racing, six or seven lead cars often swapping positions. What is it like to race in a scenario like that?
RAPHAEL MATOS: Well, it's tough. You know, everybody's flat out all the time. You obviously have to trust the driver that you're running side by side. More than likely, you have someone in front of you and someone right behind you. Hopefully I will be up front so I won't have that problem.
But more than likely I will have someone side by side with me the whole race. You know, that's what I pretty much concentrated on last week at the test, obviously making sure we have a fast and good car trying to fight for the pole position, but also strong and consistent car, a car that makes me feel comfortable during the race. We concentrate very much on running side by side with my teammate, Arie Luyendyk, who is very experienced. He pushed really hard trying to get me that feeling that we should have at the race weekend. So I feel pretty good about that. I feel that I'm ready for that.
THE MODERATOR: Looking back at the season so far, what would some of the highlights be for you?
RAPHAEL MATOS: Well, the season obviously has been a little bit of ups and downs - obviously more ups than downs since of course we're leading the championship right now. I think the St. Petersburg victory was very important for us. We proved that we're definitely contenders. We almost won the second race. We've won every road course race, the first race, on the double weekends, but the last one in Infineon. I think every victory we've had this season was very important for us. I think every time we are on track, we show that we're able to perform well. I push myself a hundred percent of the time all the time I go to the track. I try to get the best feedback to the engineers and try to develop my car as much as I can.
THE MODERATOR: Tell us a little bit about what it's been like to be part of the Andretti Green Racing family and work with that team so far this year.
RAPHAEL MATOS: It's great. As you said, it's a big family. That's how Michael made me feel when I first talked to him before I signed with AGR. Obviously the involvement, Andretti Green and Gary Peterson, with the AFS company, AFS Racing, without his support, we wouldn't be able to where we at right now. So I got to thank Michael, Kim, Kevin and obviously Gary Peterson for their support.
On the technical side, I have to say that this year I learned the most in my career. I've been learning with all the IndyCar drivers. I've been learning a lot with Luyendyk, especially on the ovals. Obviously I've been learning a lot with all the engineering group. It's such a great group of people. I've been able to get all that information and keep in my brain. I've been improving a lot on the technical side and as a driver as well.
THE MODERATOR: We'll take questions for Raphael Matos.
Q: Where do you see yourself six, seven months from now as the racing season opens for the '09 season? Where do you think you're going to be?
RAPHAEL MATOS: Well, I hope I will be in an IndyCar. There's a lot of things going on right now. That's my ultimate goal, is to be in IndyCar. That's what I'm working hard for.
I don't really know anything else, anything more than that. I mean, it's difficult to say. Obviously to be in IndyCar you have to have a lot of things on your side. You have to have the sponsorship side sorted out. Obviously I have a great team that could easily support a car for me in the IndyCar Series. So let's hope.
I'm a hundred percent focused on the Indy Lights championship right now. I truly believe having that championship on the table, it's going to help me somehow negotiating for next year.
Q: You come from a country where people are avid fans about racing. I think they could be considered bonkers about racing. What would it mean to your friends back in Brazil to wrap up this championship?
RAPHAEL MATOS: It means a lot. IndyCar in Brazil and Indy Lights, it's definitely a very, very prestigious series in Brazil. As a matter of fact, 10 years ago Cristiano da Matta was winning his Indy Lights championship. Hopefully I will this year and we'll celebrate together.
There's a lot of people with positive vibrations. Everybody's wishing me good luck from Brazil. Hopefully I will bring this title for them, to all my family, friends, and obviously my team.
THE MODERATOR: That's all the questions we have for you this afternoon. Thanks for joining us and good luck this weekend.
RAPHAEL MATOS: Thanks.