Firestone Indy Lights: Corning Duels 1
Topics: Corning Duels 1
July 5, 2008
WATKINS GLEN, NEW YORK
TIM HARMS: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome. The first of the two Corning Duels is in the books. A very interesting race, and one that can certainly change things around rather dramatically.
Richard Antinucci, great job. That gentleman is now in a flatâfooted tie, if I have it right, now for the points lead with Dillon Battistini. So in terms of that, a very nice run.
A gentleman who has been outstanding in this series for a number of years, Jeff Simmons. A sevenâtime winner in this series, and once again he has another great day here.
Raphael Matos, a gentleman who has won for the fourth time in his career in Firestone Indy Lights competition. Three of those have come in St. Petersburg, and he has now added a great win at Watkins Glen. We'll start with you, and congratulations on a great run.
RAPHAEL MATOS: Thank you very much. I think it was definitely very important for us that we were able to recover in the championship. And you know, we tested here a couple weeks ago, and we're expecting big things from this race.
And we're fortunate enough to have a really good start, and I got by Frank in the start and Richard did as well. And I knew he was running more downforce than I was. And I pretty much, I stick with my plan. Try to save my tires early on in the race. Just in case we had restarts.
You know, the method worked out pretty good. I was able to push pretty hard at the end of the race and build up a pretty good gap, and bring the AFS Racing/Andretti Green car to Victory Lane. It's been a while.
TIM HARMS: You've done a lot of things in your career in the Atlantic Series, and you've been a winner here as well. I expect that every race is an opportunity for you to display your talent for other teams and other opportunities that may come your way?
RAPHAEL MATOS: Yeah, I think what I was, always looking at the championship, you have to approach race by race, I think. And that's how I won the championship last year. We won half of the races, and we just approach it race by race.
First you have to finish the race before you try to win. And, obviously, you have to collect points every single race. We're a little bit unfortunate in the last few races. I had that one DNF and we had a couple bad results and that kind of put us behind in the championship. But it looks like it came alive again. I'm ready to fight from now until the end.
TIM HARMS: Richard, last time I talked to you was in Victory Lane at Infineon Raceway, so these kind of circuits are much to your liking. A good race today, but even a couple of race starts it looks like Raphael was able to pull away from you. That must have been a little frustrating. You had a good day, but I know a driver of your stature likes to be in Victory Lane. Tell us about your day?
RICHARD ANTINUCCI: Yeah, it was a good day. I think, you know, I'd like to congratulate Matos and AFS again. This is like St. Pete, similarly they 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, as you said, on the second restart I had a big slide in the last corner. Because I was actually quicker than them on the restart before, and we were really close.
This time 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 build the gap right away. Very well, he did it to his best.
At the end I also caught a guy in lap traffic, which didn't help. But to be honest with you, at that point he had a very solid lead and a deserving win.
TIM HARMS: As I remember a press conference at Indianapolis where several drivers in this series have always pointed to the fact that you get the most out of your race cars and are always worth a couple of positions. Given the fact that you've won seven times in this series, a victory is what you've come for. But a podium finish to star two races is not a bad way to start your day. True from your perspective or is the feeling one of disappointment?
JEFF SIMMONS: Wow, the other guys said that about me? That's pretty cool.
TIM HARMS: Yeah, they certainly did.
JEFF SIMMONS: Yeah, it was disappointing for sure. We thought we'd be a little more competitive. We didn't have anything for Raphael or Richard today. Well, not in the first race for sure. Hopefully, we can go back and regroup and get a little better.
To be honest, I don't think I really got the most out of my car in this first race. I didn't put together the consistent laps that I needed. The car was a bit difficult, and in order to do that, but... You know, we got solid points, a podium finish, and we'll try to regroup for the second one.
TIM HARMS: We've got a very special program we want to talk about really quickly. For all of you in the press room, by the way, the invert for the second of the races is six. So that is six is the invert there. So all of you have a little work to do. Tell us about our exciting program here?
T.J. TENNENT: Hello everyone, my name's T.J. Tennent. I'm the project manager for Bridgestone Firestone Motorsports. What we're going to do now is do the Firestone Lucky 3. It's done in the Firestone Indy Lights Series.
I have some chips in this bag. They represent positions 11 through 21. These guys are going to pick one of each of these chips, and the first chip that is going to be picked, the driver that finishes in that position, that team's going to get $1,000. The second Chip that gets picked. That team will get $1500. And, of course, the last chip that gets picked, that position's going to get $2500.
This is done at every Indy Lights race to kind of help out the teams who finish a little further back in the pack, and kind of get some money out of Firestone's deep pockets.
TIM HARMS: Looks like we're going to start with Jeff? Tell us what you've draw there, Jeff? Who throws the anchor out at some point today?
JEFF SIMMONS: 15:
TIM HARMS: 15. Richard Drew 14. And this is your finish position. 19, 19 is the third one. Very good.
Let's open it up to questions now for any of our three drivers who have done a great job today.
Q. A very unusual situationâ â you're running twice in one day. Having that in mind, did you try to be a little bit cautious with your car so you can go for the second one? Because, obviously, if you pile it up the first time you can be in trouble, and there are one or two who may have had that. Did you like the idea, and were you a little bit cautious that had you to run the second time?
TIM HARMS: For those of you who didn't hear the first of it, it was about the approach you take in the first race. Is there any cautiousness because you know you're running two in one day?
JEFF SIMMONS: A little bit. I think we were all probably pushing pretty hard. Rafa didn't have to push too hard once he got the gap there.
But I was pushing even when Richard was out in the distance, I was still pushing pretty hard. But early on there, they were kind of threeâwide ahead of me on the first lap, and I just backed off just trying to be a little careful there. But after that once you're out running, you're trying to win.
RAPHAEL MATOS: Yeah, I only took a little bit of risk from the start because I knew I had to get by Frank. But after this, I pushed hard enough to get up a gap, and once I got the gap I just tried to maintain the gap and bring the car back home.
Q. Rafa, tell us a little about maybe some of the frustrations you have to deal with because it seemed like that restart right there, you had the crash in lap one, then had you to restart after another crash. Was it a little frustrating that you know you have to keep dealing with these restarts and some of that?
RAPHAEL MATOS: A little bit. Since I knew I had a pretty good car, I wanted to keep going and racing, you know. You always have a chance to get passed when there is a restart, so there is a little frustration on the restart. But the only good thing is they're racing by time, so it was good in that way.
Q. I guess you're starting sixth now in race two. Is your car good enough to come to the front from there?
RAPHAEL MATOS: Yeah, I think so. We'll see how the car is in traffic. But at least at the depth I was able to run behind people and pass people. And I think my car is good enough to win the race. We'll see.
Q. Are you allowed to work on your cars in between the two races? Like do mechanical work or anything like that, change tires, et cetera?
RAPHAEL MATOS: Yes.
Q. In other words, if you were to do some damage to the car, you could repair it?
RAPHAEL MATOS: Yes.
Q. What did you learn in the first one that is going to make the difference in the second race?
RAPHAEL MATOS: I think so. We actuallyâ ââ I made some changes in my car from yesterday, And they were positive changes. I think we'll go more towards that direction for the second race. So trying to improve even more the car.
JEFF SIMMONS: Yeah, I mean, hopefully I'll put in a better drive, and hopefully we can make some small improvements to the car. And maybe be able to get it so we can get it up to speed a little quicker, and maybe a little more consistent. We had a car that was decent for qualifying, but it wasn't exactly the race car that we needed.
RICHARD ANTINUCCI: As well, you know. We'll try to make the most of these three hours, and try to get quicker a bit sooner in the race because the last race was pretty good. But if we can get stronger at the beginning of the race, especially now that we're starting fifth, that's going to be really important to move forward with the new tires. So it's pretty good.
TIM HARMS: Richard, I'd be curious; it was pretty clear for both of you. Battistini had a pretty tough week and was off early. Are you aware of that? I mean, you're in the points battle. Did you say, Oh, oh, here's the guy that's my rival for the championship. Here's my chance to make some points. Did that enter your mind during the event?
RICHARD ANTINUCCI: Well, you know, I just have to try to do my best. My rivals that I expected to be going against are sitting here, so not a big surprise.
I don't really know about Battistini's background, but seems to be going very strong on the ovals.
TIM HARMS: So in other words, going into this event, he was not one of the ones that you thought you were going to contend with for the win today?
RICHARD ANTINUCCI: No comment.
TIM HARMS: How about you, Raphael, did that enter your mind?
RAPHAEL MATOS: Well, he never said he was is strong enough on the road course. He certainly has a good car on the ovals. I think he'll be fighting for the championship, since he's always up there on the ovals. But, you know, since we have to the end of the championship, we have five more road course race and three more ovals, it will be very difficult for him, I think.
Yeah, I was told by my crew that he was out, yes.
TIM HARMS: Jeff, you know you've got to be good on both to get that championship.
JEFF SIMMONS: Yeah, absolutely. We've been competitive on both. So we just haven't broken through for that win yet this year. We've had some tough luck on some of the races that we've been in, too.
But like they were saying, you know, I mean these guys are expected to be competing against here. Obviously Perera was quick and lost it there on the first lap. But, you know, for the stretch run here, you know you've got to be quick on everything.
TIM HARMS: Gentlemen, congratulations, and thank you very much for coming in.
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