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IndyCar Series: Firestone Indy 300

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Open Wheel Racing Topics:  Firestone Indy 300

IndyCar Series: Firestone Indy 300

Raphael Matos
October 10, 2009


HOMESTEAD, FLORIDA

THE MODERATOR: Raphael, if you would talk about your day out there.
RAPHAEL MATOS: It was a very good day today for me. The track was extremely hot, and the conditions were extremely difficult. I think for me physically it was one of the most difficult races of the season.
While we qualified quite well, we couldn't duplicate that speed we had in qualifying to the race, and you know, the box in the car was definitely an issue today. I'm very happy we kept the car in one piece, and we were able to finish the race in reasonable condition, and hopefully we'll learn from it and use the information for next year.
THE MODERATOR: Rookie of the Year, was that a goal coming into the 2009 season?
RAPHAEL MATOS: Yes, definitely. That was one of the things we had hoped from the beginning of the year, and we were able to accomplish that. And for sure I've got to thank the Luczo Dragon team, the whole crew, the guys who help me drive all year. They work very, very hard. We were trying to put ourselves in a position that we could win, and it's something that means a lot to the team and a lot to me. There's a lot of important and famous drivers that have won the Rookie of the Year title, and that's something important.
THE MODERATOR: I guess even more impressive is really this was really Luczo Dragon's first, full season, so it's got to feel good for you guys, Rookie of the Year and your first -- and the team's first, full season in the series.
RAPHAEL MATOS: Yeah, definitely. The team has learned so much this year. It's just incredible how steep the learning curve on the rookie driver and with a rookie team.
Like I said before, I just think that we're just looking to be even better things right now for the future.

Q. What was the biggest adjustment coming from the Lights to the IndyCars?
RAPHAEL MATOS: I would say obviously the car, it's a bit harder to drive. It's heavier, the weights are longer, so it's more physically demanding, and also getting used to the pit stops is something very unique that you have to practice a lot. So you have to be very precise and hit your marks. And under pressure it's very easy to make a mistake, and that's something that I had to pay attention and I had to push myself and learn very quickly.

Q. Talk a little bit about how you feel that you redeemed yourself, because I know that early in the season you had gotten a little bit of criticism for being involved in a couple of crashes, and I know in June you kind of felt like you were being unfairly singled out. At the end of the season you were able to finish strong. How good of a redemptive feeling does that give you?
RAPHAEL MATOS: Yeah, it kind of feels like redemption. I definitely made some rookie mistakes, something I wouldn't -- I wouldn't make those mistakes again for sure, especially the one from St. Petersburg. I got involved in an accident with Danica, and I took both of us out.
And also the Indianapolis accident with Victor, which I think was a weight incident.
But the biggest thing I learned is not to put myself in other drivers' hands, not expect the other drivers to cooperate with me when we're battling. So that's the biggest thing for me. I think I learned very well this season how to deal with this.
THE MODERATOR: Rapha, congratulations, heck of a season.



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