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Firestone Indy Lights: Carneros 100

Open Wheel Racing Topics:  Carneros 100

Firestone Indy Lights: Carneros 100

Richard Antinucci
Raphael Matos
Franck Perera
August 23, 2008


THE MODERATOR: Congratulations. We have been joined by Richard Antinucci, who finished third today. He drives for Sam Schmidt Motorsports. This is Richard's ninth top-five finish of the season and puts him second in points. He will start sixth for tomorrow's race, as well.
We've also been joined by Raphael Matos, who finished second today, who drives AFS Andretti Green Racing. He is the new leader in the Firestone Indy Lights Series by one point, and this was his seventh top-five finish of the season.
So I'll open to up to you both. How did the race go for you guys, and how were things out on the track?
RICHARD ANTINUCCI: It was a pretty straightforward race in the sense that this is the order that we had in qualifying, and it seems to reflect the two performances in the race. I think Raphael Matos was a little bit quicker than me over the course of the race, and Perera was probably the same amount quicker than him, or maybe a little less.
I had a great start, and unfortunately I was radioed immediately halfway through the first lap to relinquish that position and give it back to Matos, so I went wide in the last corner. I didn't actually want to let him by in that way. It's a little weird. But I locked up, and I said, the hell with it, I'll go wide here and let him by, and I can get behind him without risking getting passed by someone else.
The rest was pretty good. We have a draw that we start sixth tomorrow, and it's going to be a tough race. The points has been tight all year. I have a lot of respect for my rival sitting here next to me, so hopefully we'll have a clean race, start next to each other and see who does better.
RAPHAEL MATOS: As Richard said, this track, I think, is extremely difficult to pass. We missed the pole yesterday. It was a bit unfortunate. And that kind of put us a little bit behind.
But we did what we had to do. We maximized our points today. Had enough for Antinucci, didn't have enough for Franck, so hopefully tomorrow we'll make the proper changes to the race car and try to get another strong finish. We're looking good in the championship, leading the championship by one point. But it's far from being over yet. We've got to keep working and pushing and improving the car, improving myself, and hopefully we'll be contenders in Chicago and we'll be fighting for the title in Chicago.
THE MODERATOR: We have been joined by race winner Franck Perera, who drives for Guthrie Racing. This was Franck's first Indy Lights win, which he did from the pole. And the win also marks a record for the IndyCar Series as the eighth winner of the season, so the eighth different winner this season.
Franck, congratulations. Maybe you can talk us through your race a little bit today.
FRANCK PERERA: Yeah, it was a good race. The start was really important. It was a new corner, you know, and I was like on the left, and so was not easy, I think, for everybody to make it good. It was good, you know, and then Richard was behind me, but he had a mistake, and I think he told me that he let me pass Rafa.
Then we had some safety cars, so we had a big gap and we had to try again to have another gap. But the car was good all the time and it was pretty easy for me to make a huge -- enough gap to keep Rafa far from me.
And then the car was perfect, and in the last lap, and I was able to push sometimes and to release. It's good, the team did a good job, and it's good to have done the job with a new track and we were pretty far to him. It's really good what we did.
And tomorrow is going to be tough, but we have the speed to go back in top three medium, so we're going to see.

Q. This is for anybody. They said they changed the configuration of the track to allow for more passing. My eyes aren't that good, but I didn't see a whole lot of it. Is this place still difficult to pass, or did that help at all?
FRANCK PERERA: Well, for me it's a new track so I don't know how it was before. But I think if you have this -- in practice we are all together, so you can see.
But no, I think if you have the speed you are able to pass. It's just some points are pretty risky, and the track is also pretty slippery when you're out of the lines, so it's not that easy.
RAPHAEL MATOS: Yeah, I think it's very difficult. The only place I believe you can pass is going to Turn 7, but Turn 6 is such a high-speed corner, you don't have good enough balance to get a good run going to 7. So it's very difficult. Especially you go over the crest, the car loses downforce and loses grip over the crest. It's very tough.

Q. Franck, getting that first victory, how big a deal is that to you?
FRANCK PERERA: It's just good, you know, I had a tough season going to Champ Car, and then it was next with IndyCar and then I was in the biggest series in America with Conquest. I had very good start of the season in IndyCar for the oval, you know; I had never been in oval. Tempe was good, Long Beach in Champ Car was also good. Then sponsor of the team had a problem so they had to replace me by somebody, you know, who has more money than me.
So then you have to find a solution to drive, because my goal is to stay in America and to be a professional here, and the IndyCar is the best for me. So I decide to go in Indy Lights, and it is the best series for experience for oval, and I can show in the road course what I can do. And they give me a chance at CJ Motorsports, so it's good for finally a victory. Watkins Glen we are pretty close but we have some problems in the race. I just have to improve now the final race in Chicago.

Q. Franck, you obviously had the car to stay out front and not get passed. If you would have started second or third, do you think you would have had the car to pass somebody else?
FRANCK PERERA: Maybe, you never know. It's difficult, you know. I think all the weekend top three were pretty close, you know, and the race was different.
But we will see tomorrow. We're going to start all three in the back, and I think some guys in the front we have -- after ten laps it will be a big difference to compare us. So I think it will be an interesting race tomorrow.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks, guys. Congratulations.

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