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DATE News (chronologically)
04/06/08
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Antinucci wins 2nd Indy Lights race  
Richard Antinucci
Road racer Richard Antinucci won the 2nd Firestone Indy Lights race of the weekend on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida.  The race was a fiasco of sorts. The top 4 were inverted at the start.  The winner of the first race on Saturday, Raphael Matos pulled into second, got impatient and dropped back, then passed his way back to 2nd with Simmons leading.  He then was working Simmons beautifully and decided to force the issue and took them both out. Then Ana Beatriz was in the lead and doing a great job in front of Antinucci. Once again, it seems like the only way these drivers pass each other is by hitting one another. Antinucci just nudged her right out of the way. Then she crosses right into the racing line and got hammered. So Antinucci finished it out.

Bobby Wilson, once again hit someone trying to pass. He seems to really like to do that here especially.

JR Hildebrand finished 2nd.

Quotes

RICHARD ANTINUCCI (No. 7 Lucas Oil/Sam Schmidt Motorsports, finished first): “Rafa (Matos) was really quick this weekend. He and the AGR guys did a great job all weekend, but we were right behind them. We made a few changes to the car last night and I think that helped. We slowly took our stride today. Things got a little bit hairy with my teammate (Ana Beatriz), which is the worst of all situations. We were fighting out there and I didn't want to make a dangerous move, but I just ran out of room.

(About the incident with Ana Beatriz): “It was a racing incident, and I'm not going to start blaming Bea. She's a great driver and what she was doing was incredible. I'm going to apologize and hopefully have reasonable, mutual understanding that it was a racing incident.”

J.R. HILDEBRAND (No. 25 RLR/Andersen Racing, finished second): “We rolled out of the box really well. The first four guys have been at the top of the time charts most of the weekend. We've been struggling a little bit this weekend with the ALMS rubber on the track, but the IndyCar Series going out to practice before our race today made it a little bit easier. It was just a hectic, typical street course race. I'm just really glad to make it through all of the attrition and come out on the podium.”

LOGAN GOMEZ (No. 23 Menards Guthrie Racing, finished third): “The podium finish was definitely better than I expected since we've been having trouble all week. Homestead was a rough start to the season, and we had some gearbox issues in yesterday's race. It's great to comeback from dead last. From 23rd to third - 20 spots - that's a pretty good race.”

DILLON BATTISTINI (No. 15 Panther Racing, finished fourth): “I’m pleased to come away with that result after the way my weekend’s gone on. I thought I was just having one of those weekends where nothing could possibly go right. But luckily, I just managed to pick them off in that race. I kept my nose clean and let everybody else park it in the wall. I’m quite pleased with myself. Yesterday was a bit of disaster. I was going forward, but then I punched a hole in my oil cooler and it started spraying oil all over my rear tire. So I started to drop back and then eventually lost oil pressure and had to retire. It was a bit of a comedown after last weekend, but we’ve salvaged something today, so it’s nice to finish it on a bit of a high.”

SEAN GUTHRIE (No. 4 Car Crafters Guthrie Racing, finished fifth): “I sure am happy. The Guthrie Racing team has had a stroke of bad luck. From me spinning on the pace lap at Homestead, to the gearbox problems in both cars all weekend. Finally we just said, ‘Let’s just hold on.’ We drove a smart race. My teammate finished third, we finished fifth. We’re just ecstatic.”

RAPHAEL MATOS (No. 27 Automatic Fire Sprinklers, Inc.): “I was trying to outbrake (Jeff) Simmons and was already on the inside, and he just turned into me. I don’t think he had any business doing that. He knew I was at least a half-a-second faster than he was and that I was going to pass him anyway. I got a run on him on the restart and he just closed the door and ruined my race and his race as well. I’m very disappointed for everyone on the AFS Racing/Andretti Green Racing team. There’s no question we had the best car all weekend. We came out of the weekend with one win, but we would have liked to have won both races.”

Race recap

Antinucci, starting from the inside of row 2 of the reverse grid had struggled at the beginning, as the roll of dice at Turn 1 wound up blocking him up and letting JR Hildebrand and Andrew Prendeville by him. The first of the morning's five restarts offered to the Rome-born driver a chance to get back from Prendeville the 5th place.

On lap 14 Antinucci and Raphael Matos --winner of Saturday's race-- made a spectacular maneuver on Prendeville, both passing the rival at Turn 1.

This moved Antinucci up to 4th, while the Brazilian Matos was getting on the wheels of national Beatriz, who had been trailing leader Jeff Simmons. Just past mid-race the female driver had to let Matos go, and Antinucci started to grow bigger in Ana Beatriz' mirrors.

On lap 26 while battling for the lead Matos and Simmons collided, and whilst the American went into a spin, the Andretti Green/AFS driver had to stop at the pits with a flat spotted front left tire. The fourth full course yellow again bunched up the pack, and when the course was clear Antinucci chased the leading Lady until their Turn 1 impromptu waltz.

The last yellow flag period left the Sam Schmidt Motorsports driver with just 4 laps remaining to make sure to clinch his initial win in the #7 Dallara, which Antinucci did edging Hildebrand by 1.5415, sealing a 1-2 for racers who call California home (JR hails from Sausalito).

Pos

Driver Start Pos Diff Gap Status
1 Richard Antinucci (7) 3 ... ... Running
2 JR Hildebrand (25) 5 1.5415 1.5415 Running
3 Logan Gomez (23) 23 2.4302 0.8887 Running
4 Dillon Battistini (15) 21 5.8187 3.3885 Running
5 Sean Guthrie (4) 15 8.8457 3.0270 Running
6 Al Unser III (21) 12 9.0867 0.2410 Running
7 Juan Manuel Polar (3) 9 11.3387 2.2520 Running
8 Nathan Freke (8) 20 12.7848 1.4461 Running
9 Marc Williams (9) 18 14.1714 1.3866 Running
10 Cyndie Allemann (18) 8 14.2986 0.1272 Running
11 Micky Gilbert (54) 16 38.6883 24.3897 Running
12 Raphael Matos (27) 4 1 lap 1 lap Running
13 Brent Sherman (16) 17 8.9545 8.9545 Running
14 James Davison (11) 13 2 laps 1 lap Running
15 Chris Festa (24) 11 3 laps 1 lap Running
16 Ana Beatriz (20) 2 8 laps 5 laps Accident
17 Pablo Donoso (43) 14 6.2955 6.2955 Accident
18 Mitch Cunningham (33) 19 14 laps 6 laps Running
19 Jeff Simmons (2) 1 15 laps 1 lap Running
20 Andrew Prendeville (5) 7 18 laps 3 laps Running
21 Bobby Wilson (17) 22 19 laps 1 lap Accident
22 Arie Luyendyk Jr. (26) 6 40 laps 21 laps Accident
23 Robbie Pecorari (6) 10 0.9950 0.9950 Accident

Race Statistics

      Winner's average speed: 75.802 mph
      Time of race: 56:59.4231
      Margin of victory: 1.5415 seconds
      Cautions: 5 caution flags for 16 laps
      Lead changes: 2 among 3 drivers
      Lap leaders: Simmons 1-25, Beatriz 26-32, Antinucci 33-40.
      Point standings: Antinucci 122, Matos 96, Battistini 91,
Hildebrand 90, Beatriz 75, Luyendyk Jr. 68, Sherman 65, Festa
64, Guthrie 64, Prendeville 64.
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