Champ Car loses Atlantic champ to IRL Andretti Green Racing, the winningest team in Indy Racing League history, announced today it will field a two-car Indy Pro Series effort in 2008. The team also announced it has signed championship-winning driver Raphael Matos to drive the #27 AFS entry as part of the two-car operation.
For the first time in team history, Andretti Green’s Indy Pro Series operation will be housed and prepared in its race shop on the northwest side of Indianapolis. The 2008 effort will be a joint endeavor between AGR and AFS Racing, which is owned by Indy Pro Series veteran Gary Peterson. Under Peterson’s control, AFS Racing won two races in 2006. In 2007, AFS Racing captured another victory, two pole positions and a third-place finish in the championship, its highest championship result.
Matos, the 2007 Formula Atlantic champion and 2005 Star Mazda champion, collected six victories, four poles and nine podium finishes in 12 Atlantic starts during the 2007 season. In addition to a full Atlantic schedule in 2006, Matos made four Indy Pro Series starts. He drove to victory in both races at the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, leading 68 of the 80 laps over the two-race span. He also finished fourth on the road course at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
In 2005, Matos won four of the 12 Star Mazda races and collected three pole positions en route to the series championship. Also a starter in the American Le Mans Series, Matos has driven in the last two 12 Hours of Sebring races, finishing fifth in class in the 2006 event. Andretti Green is currently working to secure a driver for its second series entry. Prior to teaming with AFS Racing, Andretti Green won four Indy Pro Series races, including three with Marco Andretti in 2005. In its first full season in the Indy Pro Series in 2006, AGR finished second in the championship with driver Jonathan Klein.
The eighth Indy Pro Series season begins Saturday, March 29, at Homestead-Miami Speedway with the Miami 100. The 16-race schedule includes double header race weekends at St. Petersburg, Watkins Glen International, Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and Infineon Raceway.
Michael Andretti, Chairman, Andretti Green Racing:
"We're very excited about expanding our Indy Pro Series operation and continuing our relationship with Gary Peterson and AFS Racing. Joining forces with AFS Racing made a lot of sense, from both on-track and business standpoints.
"We couldn't be happier to have a driver as talented and capable as Raphael Matos join our Indy Pro Series driving lineup. Kim (Green), Kevin (Savoree), Gary (Peterson) and I all believe Raphael will contend for the championship. Everyone at AGR is excited about expanding our business and doing so with such skilled people."
Gary Peterson, Owner, AFS Racing:
"Moving in-house with AGR for the 2008 season is a great opportunity for AFS and we are happy to continue our relationship with such a successful organization. There is no doubt that with Raphael Matos' record, we will be competing for the championship this year.
"Matos will be racing the #27 Automatic Fire Sprinklers, Inc. team AFS car. No doubt Matos' winning skills will bring attention to Automatic Fire Sprinklers, Inc. and the fire sprinkler industry as a whole. As the president of Automatic Fire Sprinklers, Inc., one of the nation's largest fire sprinkler companies, I am honored to represent a product that saves lives."
See related SPEEDTV.COM article.