by Lynne Huntting
Rafael Matos may appear in this year's Indianapolis 500 if he makes sufficient progress along his oval racing learning curve in the Indy Pro Series with Andretti Green Racing.
The Brazilian made the headlines last week when he decided to pass up Champ Car's $2m bursary to graduate to the top flight as champion of the Atlantic series, choosing instead to jump over to the rival Indycar camp and ink a deal with AGR to run this year's IPS.
He will start testing almost straight away in order to get oval experience, which he lacks despite contesting four IPS races in recent season. Those events were exclusively on street and road courses - two of which he won - and Matos admits that he needs to start getting to grips with ovals if he is to graduate to the IRL. It was for that reason, he reveals, that he opted for a return to the IPS rather than plunge straight into the IRL. His testing programme, however, will include five days in one of AGR's Indycars, leading to speculation about an appearance at Indianapolis in May.
Despite looking forward to running with AGR team-mate, and friend, Tony Kanaan, Matos admitted that he was sorry that it didn't work out with Champ Car. He confirms that he spoke with several teams, but all required more money than the $2m package he could bring from Atlantics. He also admitted that he didn't want to race with just any team, but politely declined to name the team that he reportedly was poised to be 'pawned off on'. SpeedTV
contributor Robin Miller suggested that Rocketsports was in the frame to be handed Matos' services.
The Brazilian is currently in Daytona to contest the 24 Hours with the #70 SpeedSource Mazda RX-8 which sits on the GT class pole for Saturday's start.