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Q&A: Raphael Matos (Luczo Dragon Racing)

Last year you passed up the opportunity to go to Champ Car to run Firestone Indy Lights with Andretti Green. Do you have any regrets passing up the chance to get a Champ Car ride?

Raphael Matos:
Not at all. I didn't really pass up the opportunity. The opportunity for me, I felt that by the time I signed with Andretti Green, the opportunity was not longer there because a week later Champ Car filed bankruptcy. So, I truly believe I made the decision at the right time and I think I went to the right team because for me [the move] was going to be a sidestep coming from Atlantic Series. But it was certainly an important decision for me to go to a team I knew I could win the championship with in my rookie year because I needed to prove everyone one more time that I was capable of winning in that kind of level, and finally I go to IndyCar.

Q:
Earlier this year you had a crash with Danica Patrick at St Pete. The TV cameras showed you two talking, using your hands as lot. What exactly were you saying to each other?

Raphael Matos:
I was trying to show her my point of view, and she was obviously trying to show her point of view. It was a very unfortunate race incident. I don't think it was anybody's fault. I truly believe Danica. I think she is a great driver. It's just something that both of us, I'm sure, learned about - especially myself - about being a rookie. It's something that as long as you learn, as long as you get everything out of it, you make sure you don't do it next race or never again.

Q:
I know last week at Texas, Luczo Dragon Racing hosted Shaquille O'Neal. Did you get a chance to talk to him? What was he like?

Raphael Matos:
He was a great guy. A very humble person. Very simple. Very open, funny. You can see that he's got a big heart and he helps a lot of people with charity programs. He's got a very similar philosophy than Luczo Dragon. I think that's why Shaq fit our team really well. He knows really well how to be a team player. That's how the whole Luczo Dragon team is.

Q:
I know the team made a Shaq-sized team shirt for him. Did he keep it? Does the team plan to use it maybe as an awning for the side of the truck?

Raphael Matos:
No, no, he's keeping the shirt. That's his.

Q:
Finally, what do you think it's going to take for a team like Luczo Dragon to be competitive week in and week out with the Penskes, Ganassis, and Andretti Greens of the IndyCar world?

Raphael Matos:
I think time. I think we have the personnel. I think we have the best people we can possibly get in the team. We have the best mechanics. We have the best engineers. Hopefully they believe they have the best driver. I think it takes time to build up a team, especially to fight against Andretti Green, Penske and Ganassi. They've been doing this for a long time. They've had this car for a long time. So there's a lot of catch-up work, I believe.

But we're ready for the challenge. We put ourselves in that position and against the best. And I'm sure [team co-owners] Steve [Luzco] and Jay [Penske] and everyone on the Luczo Dragon team are just as competitive as I am, and I'm sure they want to win really bad. We're doing everything we can to get the performance out of the car, and I'm doing everything I can to learn as much as I can and to improve every day.


Related Pictures

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Raphael Matos - Luczo Dragon Racing   [pic credit: IRL/Haines]
Dragon Racing`s Sebastien Bourdais. (Photo Credit: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Dragon Racing`s Sebastien Bourdais. (Photo Credit: Jim Haines for IndyCar Media)
Sebastian Saavedra, driver of the #6 TrueCar Dragon Racing Chevrolet IndyCar finished 8th and Marco Andretti,, driver of the #25 Dr Pepper Andretti Autosport Chevrolet IndyCar finished 10th Sunday, September 1, 2013 at the Grand Prix of Baltimore on the street circuit in Baltimore, Maryland.  (Photo by Michael L. Levitt for Chevy Racing)
Sebastien Bourdais, driver of the #7 McAfee Dragon Racing Chevrolet IndyCar, stands on the podium after finishing 3rd Sunday, September 1, 2013 at the Grand Prix of Baltimore on the street circuit in Baltimore, Maryland.  (Photo by Phillip Abbott for Chevy Racing)
Sebastien Bourdais, driver of the #7 McAfee Dragon Racing Chevrolet, races to a third-place finish Sunday, July 14, 2013 during the IZOD IndyCar Series Race Two in the Streets of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt for Chevy Racing)
Sebastien Bourdais, driver of the #7 McAfee Dragon Racing Chevrolet, raced to a second-place finish Saturday, July 13, 2013 during the IZOD IndyCar Series Race One in the Streets of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.. (Photo by Phillip Abbott for Chevy Racing)
Sebastien Bourdais, driver of the #7 McAfee Dragon Racing Chevrolet, races to a second-place finish Saturday, July 13, 2013 during the IZOD IndyCar Series Race One in the Streets of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt for Chevy Racing)
Sebastien Bourdais, driver of the #7 McAfee Dragon Racing Chevrolet, finishes second during qualifying Friday, July 12, 2013 for Saturday’s IZOD IndyCar Series Race One in the Streets of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Bourdais will start in the front row for the first standing start in Toronto IndyCar racing history. (Photo by Phillip Abbott for Chevy Racing)
Sebastien Bourdais, driver of the #7 McAfee Dragon Racing Chevrolet, finished second during qualifying Friday, July 12, 2013 for Saturday’s IZOD IndyCar Series Race One in the Streets of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Bourdais will start in the front row for the first standing start in Toronto IndyCar racing history. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt for Chevy Racing)
Sebastien Bourdais during practice at St Peterburg, Flodica - March 2013, (Photo Credit: John Cote for IndyCar Media)
Sebastien Bourdais on the second day of pre-season testing at Barber Motorsport Park. (Photo Credit: John Cote for IndyCar Media.)
Dragon team co-owner Jay Penske [Photo credit: IndyCar Media]
Dragon team co-owner Jay Penske [Photo credit: IndyCar Media]
Ho-Pin Tung makes his debut for Schmidt Dragon Racing at Infineon Raceway. [Photo by Chris Jones for IndyCar Media]
Ho-Pin Tung makes his debut for Schmidt Dragon Racing. [Photo by Chris Jones for IndyCar Media]
Patrick Carpentier crashes the #20 Dragon Racing car in Sunday morning practice ahead of Indy 500 Bump Day qualification activity on Sunday, May 22 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Patrick Carpentier takes over the #20 car previously driven by Scott Speed, for a practice run on Bump Day at Indianapolis - Sunday, May 22. [Picture credit: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media]

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