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DATE News (chronologically)
04/11/08
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Matos fastest at Indy  Raphael Matos continues to be a quick study on ovals The Brazilian rookie topped the time chart April 11 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway as 23 drivers participated in a Firestone Indy Lights Open Test in preparation for next month's Firestone Freedom 100.

Matos lapped the historic 2.5-mile oval in 47.6587 seconds, 188.843 mph in the No. 27 Automatic Fire Sprinklers, Inc. car. "This is a great place with a lot of history, so I'm very happy that I was able to drive here," Matos said. "We were very strong today. Like Homestead, we were very quick in qualifying runs and we made progress on the long runs. I'm looking forward to coming back here for the race."

Matos was followed by RLR/Andersen Racing teammates J.R. Hildebrand and Andrew Prendeville, Sam Schmidt Motorsports' rookie James Davison and American Spirit Racing's Cyndie Allemann. Drivers combined to complete 1,870 laps during a day that began after two-hour rain delay. South African rookie Tschops Sipuka brought out the lone caution when he spun shortly before 3 p.m. Sipuka did not make contact with the SAFER Barrier and was able to continue the test. The sixth Firestone Freedom 100 is scheduled for May 23, two days before the 92nd running of the Indianapolis 500.

OPEN TEST QUOTES:

J.R. HILDEBRAND (No. 25 RLR/Andersen Racing, second-fastest): "Just walking into this place, the history hits you like a ton of bricks. It's like no other track. It's not like anything else I've ever experienced. With my road course background, it felt like a big road course with four corners. A driver really has to drive around this place. It requires skill; it's not just a setup. In the morning, we had some little issues we had to work out. Andrew did his fast time in the morning, as did Raphael (Matos). We were able to put in quite a few laps in the afternoon, and that's when I set my fastest lap. I had a few moments due to gusts of wind. It was a good test. It's hard to equate to race weekend, but Andrew and I worked well together. I only had one real oval under my belt before today, so I had some mixed feelings, but I came in with an open mind. I'm pleased with how it went and how good the car was."

ANDREW PRENDEVILLE (No. 5 RLR/Andersen Racing, third-fastest): "The test went well. I set my fastest time right out of the box. There were a couple of sprinkles, and the wind is always a factor here. I had a couple of moments because of it, but that's part of Indy. The team did a great job, and now I'm off to Cincinnati for a Racing Laps for Best Friends appearance at the Everything Pets Show this weekend."

JAMES DAVISON (No. 11 Lifelock/Sam Schmidt Motorsports, fourth-fastest): "It was a really, really incredible experience driving on the oval at Indianapolis. I've raced one on the road course here. For my first time, it was really good. The team and I worked really well and were able to have a really good car and be competitive around the top three, where we believe we deserve to be. We've had a difficult start to the season in terms of results of the races, but we've been fast, so it's important to get this on paper and rebuild some momentum that was lost."

CYNDIE ALLEMANN (No. 18 American Spirit Racing, fifth-fastest): "We did a lot of work today. We tried many things for the setup for the race, and they all were very good. We did a great job together." (About driving at Indianapolis): "I was impressed to know that I was coming to drive at Indianapolis. In Europe, you hear a lot about the (Indianapolis) 500. That's the most famous race. It's such a good feeling to run around this racetrack."
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