SONOMA, Calif., Saturday, Aug. 23, 2008 - Raphael Matos took a one-point lead in the Firestone Indy Lights championship with a second-place finish in the Carneros 100. Richard Antinucci, who had been the leader, finished third. ...
SONOMA, Calif., Saturday, Aug. 23, 2008 - Raphael Matos took a one-point lead in the Firestone Indy Lights championship with a second-place finish in the Carneros 100. Richard Antinucci, who had been the leader, finished third.
The two will battle again Aug. 24 in the Valley of the Moon 100, the penultimate race of the season.
Franck Perera led all 30 laps of the Carneros 100 from the pole to claim his first Firestone Indy Lights victory, becoming the record-setting eighth driver to win a race this season.
FIRESTONE INDY LIGHTS POST-RACE NOTES:
* This is Franck Perera's first career victory in Firestone Indy Lights. He wins in his eighth career start.
* This is the third victory for Guthrie Racing. Its other two victories came with Raphael Matos at St. Petersburg in 2006.
* Perera becomes the record-setting eighth driver to win a race this season. Other winners include Dillon Battistini, Matos, Richard Antinucci, J.R. Hildebrand, Bobby Wilson, Ana Beatriz and James Davison.
* Matos finished second, his seventh top-five finish of the season . Matos takes over the points lead by one point over Antinucci .
* Six drivers remain eligible for the Firestone Firehawk Cup. They are Matos, Antinucci, Ana Beatriz, J.R. Hildebrand, Arie Luyendyk Jr. and Dillon Battistini.
* Antinucci finished third, his ninth top-five finish of the season.
* J.R. Hildebrand finished fourth, his seventh top-five finish of the season.
* Logan Gomez finished fifth, his third top-five finish of the season.
* Perera drew an "8" out of a bag in Victory Lane to determine how many cars will be inverted for the start of Sunday's Valley of the Moon 100. That means he will start eighth and Pablo Donoso, who finished eighth, will start first.
FIRESTONE INDY LIGHTS POST-RACE QUOTES:
FRANCK PERERA (CJ Consulting Guthrie Racing, first): "It's an amazing weekend. It was a new track again, and we were really good. We tried to catch Raphael (Matos) in the qualifying. He tested here last weekend, so he had a better chance of being good than us, so it's good that we got the pole. We had a good race. The car was consistent, we didn't have to push it 100 percent. It was good to have a race like that."
RAPHAEL MATOS (No. 26 Automatic Fire Sprinklers, second): "It was a good race. We're trying to maximize the points as much as we can this weekend. It's important that we come out of this weekend with a real chance at the championship. We're leading the championship by one point, so it's a good thing Richard (Antinucci) finished behind me. Unfortunately, we didn't have enough for (Franck) Perera, but it was a good race and we'll make improvements for tomorrow."
RICHARD ANTINUCCI (No. 7 Lucas Oil/Sam Schmidt Motorsports, third): "We had that great start, but unfortunately I had to give way. Rules are rules. I was just following my line and my row (on the start). We had a better start than the other line with (Raphael) Matos on the front row. I had to let him by, so I let him by. I dropped one spot at the end of Lap 1, in a weird way, and let him by. We had good speed at the end. I think we're there, and we'll make improvements for Sunday."
J.R. HILDEBRAND (No. 25 Allied Building Products, fourth): "It went well. We definitely made some gains in the car. Particularly at the beginning of the race we definitely had the speed of the guys up front. And then as we started getting into the race, the front tires just started going off, so that was affecting me on the brakes. Particularly in some of the slower corners, I was having a tough time keeping up. I fell into the trap of either you're overdriving it a little bit or you're just a little bit slow. That was a fine line that I crossed over a little bit too far a couple of times that allowed (Logan) Gomez to catch back up a little bit. But we'll make a couple of changes here, and I think we'll have a really good run tomorrow."
LOGAN GOMEZ (No. 23 IZOD Menards Guthrie Racing, fifth): "We qualified fourth, which is a season best for Guthrie Racing. We've got IZOD on the car for this race, so I think it's some good luck. It was good to qualify fourth, we've just got to stay up there. I ran into some trouble with another competitor who passed before the green flag. You can't do much once they're by you, and then you've got to pass them. I ended up making a pass on track for fifth again. It was just a tough race. We'll see where the inversion goes and see where we'll be starting tomorrow. There wasn't much passing in the race so maybe we can start up front."
SUNDAY'S SCHEDULE (all times local):
11 a.m. Valley of the Moon 100 pre-race
11:30 a.m. Valley of the Moon 100 (30 laps/69 miles)
The 2008 IndyCar Series season continues with the PEAK Antifreeze and Motor Oil Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma County Aug. 24 at Infineon Raceway. The race will be telecast live in High Definition at 5:30 p.m. (EDT) by ESPN2. The race will air live on the IMS Radio Network. A Spanish-language telecast of the race will be carried by ESPNDeportes. The IMS Radio Network broadcast also is carried on XM Satellite Radio and www.indycar.com. The 2008 Firestone Indy Lights season continues with a doubleheader Aug. 23-24 at Infineon Raceway. The races will air at 5 p.m. Aug. 28 on ESPN2.