IndyCar » 15 June 2009
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?
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.
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?
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.
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?
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.
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?
No, no, he's keeping the shirt. That's his.
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?
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.
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