Hearn Motorsports Road Atlanta preview

Hearn Motorsports Closes On First Career Victory BRASELTON, Ga., September 23, 2004 -- As a first year car owner, open-wheel racing star Richie Hearn set what many thought was a list of impossible goals. Included is a race win and a top-five ...

Hearn Motorsports Closes On First Career Victory

BRASELTON, Ga., September 23, 2004 -- As a first year car owner, open-wheel racing star Richie Hearn set what many thought was a list of impossible goals. Included is a race win and a top-five finish in the season championship. Entering the team's sixth Star Mazda North American Championship event this weekend at Road Atlanta, no one would be surprised to see Hearn's two-car effort exceed his target in the final three races. The No. 70 Showtime/ Samsung/ Skip Barber Racing School Mazda of Belo Horizonte, Brazil's Raphael Matos is on a streak with two-straight podium finishes in his rookie season. His most recent race at Road America resulted in a second-place, the highest finish for the 2003 Formula Dodge Skip Barber National Champion this season. Matos has qualified in the top-five in each of the races he has competed for Hearn, including one pole position, on his way to sixth in the Star Mazda championship standings. The second Hearn Motorsports entry, the No. 77 Thienes Engineering Mazda driven by Brian Thienes (Huntington Beach, Calif.), currently sits 17th in the championship and has gained considerably since joining Hearn's operation at Portland.

The 2.54-mile Road Atlanta facility is expected to offer another strong performance for the Las Vegas-based team. The fast circuit echoes earlier tracks that Hearn cars have been quick including Road America and Mosport International Raceway. Matos, who is looked-upon as one of the fastest drivers in the series, is being listed as a favorite by many to take his first career victory and give Hearn his first as a car owner.

The 45-minute open-wheel race will start at 3:05 pm (CDT) on Saturday, Aug. 21. The Road Atlanta round can be seen on SPEED, at noon (EDT), October 10.

Richie Hearn:

(about the No. 70): "So far it's been up and down this weekend. We were pretty fast in the first session and then we lost the setup a little when it got hot. We'll keep working. I don't think we are too far off but we aren't there yet. The track's a great place and I know Rafa likes racing here. I have never been here before so I don't have a lot to give as far as that goes. But we're looking for a win. I think we should have a good chance to win here, get through Phoenix and then I think we should do well at Laguna."

(about the No. 77): "We are pretty far off on Brian's car. He had an accident and lost two sessions the first day. I think Brian is suffering a little on a few of the corners. We want to get him in the faster group for qualifying so we can get him closer to the front and keep him there."

Raphael Matos: "I'm looking forward to Road Atlanta. I think we'll be very strong here. It's a high speed track and very tricky. I think we have to be very good in turn-one because it leads you uphill and through the esses section. I think turns three and five are the hardest. You are very fast there. You carry a lot of speed there and you are downshifting and braking and doing everything at the same time so it is very hard. I like the track and I think we're going to be fast here. We need to get a good start, qualify in the top-three and keep at the front and try and get the win. We have a good chance to win the race here. We have 35 cars on the grid here but there are three or four passing points. I am definitely going to have to pay attention to that."

For more on Hearn Motorsports and its 2004 Pro Formula Mazda Series' effort please visit www.richiehearn.com. To learn about Raphael Matos, visit his bilingual site at www.rafamatos.com. More on Brian Thienes can be found at www.thieneseng.com. For information on the Star Mazda Series, please visit www.starmazda.com.

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Series Pro Mazda
Drivers Richie Hearn , Skip Barber , Brian Thienes