Mike Potekhen will return to the Firestone Indy Lights field at this weekend's Infineon Raceway double-header, as the 13-man title fight moves into its closing stages.
Potekhen, a former podium finisher at the Californian venue, will drive SWE's #43 entry in the Carneros 100 and Valley of the Moon 100 as he makes a rare appearance in the 2008 campaign. He ran as high as fifth at Kentucky before a spin relegated him to 17th, and has recorded top ten finishes in each of his previous three races at Infineon Raceway, including a third-place finish in last season's Carneros 100.
"Mike is one of the greatest up-and-coming talents in the United States today," SWE owner Steve Eppard insisted, "He has a great feel for the Dallara and communicates well with the crew on what adjustments need to be made after a session is completed. He is a real asset to the team.
"With Mike being an accomplished road racer, it allows him to compete with the European drivers, and our expectations are set on a high finish for both days of competition. We are not running for the championship, so we are using the last three races as a test to help us prepare for the 2009 season."
Potekhen's inclusion in the field could have some impact on the battle at the front of the field, where some 13 drivers remain in mathematical contention for the Indy Lights crown.
While Richard Antinucci currently holds the advantage, by just four points, it is second-placed Raphael Matos who heads into the closing stages of the season with the benefit of experience, having been in a similar position before. In three of the last four years, the Brazilian has claimed a series championship, and is now aiming to win the Firestone Indy Lights crown having returned to the competition as reigning Atlantic Series king.
Such has been the unpredictability of the Lights field this season, Matos has had the lead in his grasp in each of the last two race weekends. Following his win in the opening race of the Mid-Ohio double-header, he held the points lead, then found himself tied with Antinucci after scoring his series-best fourth pole at Kentucky.
Antinucci, however, has held the points lead after eight of the 13 races so far this season, and hasn't been lower than second. The nephew of 1998 Indianapolis 500 winner Eddie Cheever Jr has two wins and leads the series with seven podium finishes, but Matos has stayed in close contact with the leaders all season, having claimed three victories of his own, all in the opening race during the road/street course double-headers.
"I'm very excited to be back at Sonoma," the Brazilian commented, "It is a very technical track, so the car has to be good and you have to be up on the wheel to be fast.