After missing Indianapolis 500, AFS Racing refocuses
After missing out on the Indianapolis 500, AFS Racing owner Gary Peterson and his team are refocusing their efforts with the plan of being even more competitive this season.
"As the owner of AFS Racing, I feel so sorry for the team, especially, (Raphael) Matos who I feel I let down," Peterson said. "I am so proud of this crew who worked tirelessly for days leading up to qualifying. My original intent was to run the road and street courses only this season to prepare us for the 2012 season, but the draw of the centennial Indy 500 was too much for me to resist."
Matos, who was trying to qualify for his third Indianapolis 500, but was bumped out of the field after his first attempt on Bump Day and came up short as he tried to find the speed to get back in the field. Neil Micklewright, VP of Operations for AFS Racing said the lack of track time hurt the team's effort.
"Obviously, we are extremely disappointed to have fallen short of the performance we needed," Micklewright said. "There are never any excuses for failure, but there are always reasons. We are a new team and fully understood that the challenge of this year's Indy 500 would be massive. Creating the team in February, meant a late start for both the crew and Raphael, but we all accepted the challenge.
"We were hoping and praying that the weather would be good for the entire week of practice at Indy, as we had never run there as a team and needed every possible moment of track time to try and refine the car to its ultimate potential. Raphael and the entire crew worked tirelessly and extremely professionally to try and gain as much knowledge and track time as possible, but I really think the lack of running on Tuesday and Wednesday, due to rain, hurt our entire effort.
"Every member of the team, including Rapha and the engineers, did a fantastic job every single day. Rapha drove his heart out and the team as a whole posted among the most total laps run in practice. That said though, we just couldn't make up for the lack of time to develop the car.
"Although there can't be any upsides to missing a qualification spot, we are among some pretty distinguished company as we watch from the sidelines."
Peterson hinted that Indianapolis would not be the last time the No. 17 Automatic Fire Sprinklers team, which had recently signed a sponsorship deal with Brazilian bank Brasilinvest.
"We will regroup and are beginning today to prepare for the balance of the season," he said.