AT WATKINS GLEN RICHARD ANTINUCCI TAKES BACK SOLE POSSESSION OF THE LEAD IN THE FIRESTONE INDY LIGHTS AFTER GRITTY EFFORT IN ROUND EIGHT AND FLAWLESS WIN IN ROUND NINE The picturesque road course stages big turnaround in points standings as San...
AT WATKINS GLEN RICHARD ANTINUCCI TAKES BACK SOLE POSSESSION OF THE LEAD IN THE FIRESTONE INDY LIGHTS AFTER GRITTY EFFORT IN ROUND EIGHT AND FLAWLESS WIN IN ROUND NINE
The picturesque road course stages big turnaround in points standings as San Diegan shares doubleheader wins with Brazilian Raphael Matos -- and previous leader Dillon Battistini hits trouble
The opening six laps of Race 1 actually had barely one run under green --Lap 3-- but this lap was meant to be packed with high drama, as it was highlighted by Antinucci passing Jeff Simmons on the outside of Turn 1 and a few seconds later by both Raphael Matos and the Italian-American moving past pole sitter Franck Perera at the Bus Stop, whilst the Frenchman spun out of the race at Turn 5 triggering another full course caution which lasted until Lap 12. From the restart to the checker the Brazilian and the Sam Schmidt Motorsports driver were the class of the field, the only two drivers who could steadily break the 1:40 barrier, and the pair opened up a very safe edge on Jeff Simmons and the rest of the field to drive to the end with Matos 2.1290 clear of Antinucci.
Race 2 --which had the top 3 rows filled with the Top 6 drivers of Race 1 in reverse positions-- started with both Sam Schmidt Motorsports drivers Antinucci and Ana Beatriz pulling off excellent moves, both earning 2 spots as the green flag was waved. Beatriz was therefore leading and Antinucci 3rd behind Logan Gomez, but a full course caution slowed down the action on the opening lap. Just a bunch of seconds after the first restart Antinucci grabbed the runner up position from Gomez, but he had to wait another full yellow and the second restart to claim P1 from the quick female driver, which Antinucci did at Turn 1 on Lap 10. Three laps later Matos claimed the second position, but Antinucci had by then nearly a 4-second edge. The Brazilian seemed able to inch closer to the Lucas Oil Dallara #7 at the half-race mark, but the Rome-born leader made the best of the third and last caution period: he had the same 2-second cushion on the rival on either side of the caution period, and his fastest lap posted with 3 laps to go ushered his 2nd season race win, by a 0.7202 margin.
Antinucci before the Glen doubleheader was trailing Dillon Battistini by 27 points, but after the morning race the California-based driver was level atop the standings at 255, as on Lap 9 of Race 1 former lone series leader Battistini, who had started from 17th place crashed out of the race and was therefore classified in the same spot as his position on the grid. In Race 2 the Englishman spun off the race again and was classified 20th, and Antinucci posting his fourth career Indy Lights win --all on road or street courses-- moved on to 307. Matos is now second at 282, whilst Battistini is third, 42 points behind the leader.
The morning race has been a good one. It's been like St. Pete, Matos and AFS/Andretti Green pulled away and they were just a little bit faster for most of the race. Maybe we were actually as strong as them in the end, but on the second restart I had a big slide in the Turn 11, the last corner. I was actually quicker than them on the restart before, and we were really close throughout the race. I wanted to put the same amount of pressure, and I think I overdid it in the last corner before the start/finish line. He got that gap, and then he actually used his strength which was to build the gap right away. At the end I also caught a guy in lap traffic who was really making no use of his mirrors, which didn't help of course. But to be honest, at that point Matos had a very solid lead and a deserving win."
"We did a really good job in the second race. You know, from the very beginning I was pretty much convinced that we were stronger on the restarts on cold tires. We had the edge on Matos and AFS/Andretti Green there. Once we got going on a regular pace, maybe after a couple laps, we were getting caught in about two-tenths a lap. we choosed to sacrifice a bit of downforce for Race 2 and this seems to have paid off. I wasn't trying to set the world on fire the last couple laps, just make sure I did everything right and had enough gap to win the race. No one caught points on us this weekend, which is excellent, what counts is to continue collecting points. To be alone on top is good but we are looking at what's gonna be in September, at the whole picture. We've won on both weekends, a second and a first place, on both road course weekends this year. I wish to thank my sponsors LifeLock and Lucas Oil and Sam Schmidt for their support, and everybody on the team for their help."