Firestone Indy Lights: St. Pete 100, Race 1
Topics: St. Pete 100
April 5, 2008
ST. PETERSBURG, FLORIDA
TIM HARMS: We are joined by our podium finishers in today's Firestone Indy Lights Race: Raphael Matos, Richard Antinucci and Ana Beatriz.
Raphael, his third win in six Firestone Indy Light starts. He is three for three racing here at St. Petersburg. In those three races here at St. Pete, he has led 108 of 120 laps. Raphael, if you would, talk about your day out there.
RAPHAEL MATOS: The day went pretty smooth, actually. I was a bit worried from the start and the restarts. But we were able to manage the restarts quite good. The car was very consistent during the race, especially right after the restart, I was able to pull a gap and break the draft.
I'm very pleased. I was able to bring this victory to the AFS/Andretti Green Team. The boys they worked really hard and really deserve the victory. Good job everyone that has been supporting us this year with the AFS, I'm very happy for everyone.
TIM HARMS: Richard, your second place finish in two races this season. You have six top fives in 11 of your last races dating back to last season. Talk about your run out there today.
RICHARD ANTINUCCI: Yeah, it was good. I'd like to first congratulate Matos and his teammates. They are very good. They had .2 on us since we left Sebring, and they seem to have carried that forward at least that over the weekend and over the race.
So, you know, we just tried to do our best. I made a big mistake on the second restart on lap 8. I stuck in third gear coming out of the hairpin, which is not ideal because it's actually a second gear corner. And as you saw, I had a big underspin moment, and a low torque coming out.
Beatriz, my teammate, managed to get a good tow and past me. I made her work for it a bit. But we're not going to do anything silly so early in the championship, and so early in the race. So she went through, and I started catching her for a while, but we had a full course yellow.
After that, it was pretty straightforward. We had enough speed to get right behind her when it counted, past her. And I pushed for a couple of laps, sincerely to try to catch Raphael, but I don't know what he was doing.
But there was first a caution that slowed us down, and then I saw that he pulled away at that same gap that he had all weekend. We just, you know, took our stride and kept second place. Good points.
TIM HARMS: Ana, for you, you're the highest finishing female in Indy Lights Racing series history. Talk about your run out there today
ANA BEATRIZ: Yeah, yesterday I had a test day. And today I have a very good day starting in third. It is a very good position in street course. So I was able to manage my third position in the start, and start to stay near Raphael and Richard.
On yellow, Richard did a mistake, so I was able to go in second, and stay in second for an hour which was amazing. Richard overtake me again, and I was just trying to manage my third, and finish third position.
Well, it's very good, I'm really happy to be on the podium today with a hard, hard, really hard working since the beginning of the year.
I'd really like to thank my sponsors, especially this year, to thank for the choice of my sponsorship of my work and my job, so I was able to be here and did this fantastic beginning of the championship. Thank you very much.
TIM HARMS: Okay, questions?
Q. Ana, are you surprised to be on the podium this early in your Indy Lights career?
ANA BEATRIZ: If I'm surprised to be on the podium?
Q. This soon.
ANA BEATRIZ: Yeah, if I start to think. This is my second race in the season and I'm already on the podium, it surprised me, yeah. But I'm really happy, so it makes me confident for the rest of the season.
I know that I have to work hard because these guys are good, and I have to work hard to race with them. So, yeah, I'm surprised but I'm really happy.
Q. Raphael, did this course seem particularly easy to you? You've raced it three times, led almost every lap, and won it three times.
RAPHAEL MATOS: Not easy at all. It is a very technical, very difficult course. But for some reason I like street courses. I raced Atlantic Series for two years, and we race street course quite a bit.
So I was able toÃ¢ï¿½Â -- I trained a lot on street course. I don't know. It just fits my style, you know. I'm able to drive the car on the limits most of the time. And I'm able to take advantage of this and get good results. I like this place very much.
Q. Richard, what are you going to think about tonight? You're going to start actually right alongside Raphael. What are you going to think about tonight in order to get a little better finish for tomorrow?
RICHARD ANTINUCCI: Try to get a good sleep. But, no, we have a couple ideas. You know, there are some big solutions on the car that we've seen some of our competitors using. And, you know, we have some ideas. We go back to the drawing board, and we can try them. Maybe tomorrow we'll consider that.
We're in a good starting position. We're in a good points position though the season is very early. We're going to go to more traditional road courses after this.
So we kind of became conservative once the testing was finished yesterday, in the sense that we don't want to change the world and go for a 4 or 5-tenths improvement, maybe or go back even. So we keep this.
We knew it was going to be tough with Rafa today and his team. We just bit the bullet and got the best result we could, really with the speed. It reflects a second place result, so it's not bad.
Q. Richard, I talked with you last year, and you wanted to try to test at Chicago to run the last oval race. You didn't make it, but you made it at Homestead. How comfortable were you on an oval?
RICHARD ANTINUCCI: I had a good car. I had a very good car. You know, this number 7's been up there for a long time, especially at Homestead. They seem to go out in the start of the year and really, really be competitive.
So I started the race. We knew we were really strong after our first lap in qualifying. Which was pretty good considering we drew the eighth place and we were fastest at that point, and these guys beat us later on, but it was good.
I had a good car. I could pass people on the outside. And I think the 125Ã¢ï¿½ï¿½ Farenheit temperature kind of put us in an unknown territory, in the sense that I couldn't go flat out for 67 laps as we had planned. And we didn't run into as many cautions as we previously had in the Homestead races.
So, you know, as you saw Rafa who was very strong at the beginning, you know, there is nothing to choose between us. He dropped off even earlier than I did, and then I did. And it hurt to get beaten at the end, but I seem to be stuck in second place right now.
Q. We're supposed to have a good chance of rain tomorrow, are you looking forward to that or would you rather it be dry?
RAPHAEL MATOS: I'm looking forward to the rain, but I'd rather it to be dry. I think in the rain, it's kind of a lottery a little bit. But I'm pretty confident in the rain, pretty comfortable.
We, actually, the only test we had before Sebring, we went to Phoenix to test, and probably was the only day it rained in Phoenix all year, and that was the day. We tested in the rain all day. So it was quite a test for us. So if it rains for us, it won't be a bad thing.
Q. Ana, you come in here with a lot of experience in cart, you've won at everything you've done. You've really shown that you have figured out how to run these cars and be extremely competitive. The street course seems to fit your style of driving.
ANA BEATRIZ: Yeah, I like street courses. First of all, I have to thank Sam Schmidt for the most part, because since the beginning of the work, they could teach me how to drive this car and be fast in this car. So thank you very much for this.
And, actually, my experience in the series (indiscernible). I was able to do a lot of street courses and do really well over there. So when I came here, I knew that I could be fast, and I'm so happy that on the street courses I could do well.
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