IndyCar »

Indy Lights showdown looms.


The two-way shoot-out for the IndyCar Series title is not the only potential flashpoint set for Chicagoland Speedway this weekend, as Raphael Matos and Richard Antinucci are engaged in the closest points battle in Firestone Indy Lights history.

While the three-point margin between the Brazilian and his sole remaining rival presents a multitude of possibilities for either of the drivers to claim the Firestone Firehawk Cup, the easiest solution would be for one of them to win their first race on an oval.

Matos' career is studded with championships – Champ Car Atlantic in 2007, Star Mazda in 2005 and Formula Dodge in 2003 - and he's built a three-point lead over Antinucci with three victories and seven top-five finishes in his first full Indy Lights campaign. While proving victorious on the streets of St Petersburg and the road courses at Watkins Glen and Mid-Ohio, the AFS/AGR driver's best finish on an oval is third at Milwaukee, although he has won the pole at both Homestead-Miami and Kentucky.

“I think the approach will be pretty much the same as everywhere we've been,” Matos insisted, “We show great speed pretty much everywhere we've been but, obviously, we've won three races on road courses. We tested last week at Chicago, and we showed great speed, and we've had two pole positions at the mile-and-a-half oval courses this year, so we definitely have a great car for that track.”

Antinucci, the nephew of former Indianapolis 500 winner Eddie Cheever, cut his teeth in the competitive European formula car ranks, winning races in the F3 Euroseries, and, like Matos, has wins this season at St Petersburg and Watkins Glen, with a best oval finish of second at both Homestead-Miami and Indianapolis.

“I'm really looking forward to this last race because we've brought ourselves to this point and we have a chance,” Antinucci said, “We're almost going in even, as if the championship race started this race. It's almost a fair crack at it.

“We've done pretty well on our last superspeedway, which is also very important, so we're coming in here with momentum. We know we're very good at least in the race, so I think we can pull out a good result this weekend, hopefully good enough to put two cars between us and our main contender.”

Whoever emerges in front in the race and in the championship - and the rivalry between them intensified after contact at Infineon Raceway recently - will have to do so at a venue where all six Firestone Indy Lights or Indy Pro Series races have been decided by less than seven-tenths of a second. Last year's race was decided by just 0.0005secs, as Logan Gomez beat eventual champion Alex Lloyd to the flag.

“It's tough,” Matos admitted, “Everybody's flat out all the time. You obviously have to trust the driver that you're running side-by-side with. More than likely, you have someone in front of you and someone right behind you - but hopefully I will be up front so I won't have that problem.”



Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Richard Antinucci - Sam Schmidt Motorsports   [pic credit: IRL/Kelley]
Ed Jones, Dale Coyne Racing, IndyCar [Credit: Ed Jones PR]
Alexander Rossi - Andretti Autosport   [pic credit: Indycar Media/Joe Skibinski]
Simon Pagenaud (Team Penske) celebrates winning the 2016 IndyCar title with victory at Sonoma   [pic credit: Chris Owens]
Simon Pagenaud - Team Penske   [pic credit: IndyCar Media/Chris Owens]
Ed Jones celebrates winning the 2016 Indy Lights championship
Kyle Kaiser (Juncos Racing) celebrates at Laguna Seca
Kyle Kaiser - Juncos Racing
Ed Carpenter Racing crew working on the boss` car   [pic credit: IndyCar Media/Chris Owens]
Indy Lights action
Indy Lights title contender Santiago Urrutia, Ed Jones, Dean Stoneman, Felix Serralles, Kyle Kaiser and Zach Veach   [pic credit: IndyCar Media]
Santiago Urrutia - Schmidt Petersen Motorsport
Will Power - Team Penske
Scott Dixon (Target Chip Ganassi Racing) on his way to victory at Watkins Glen   [pic credit: Indycar media/Chris Owens]
Scott Dixon (Target Chip Ganassi Racing) on his way to pole at Watkins Glen   [pic credit: Indycar media/Chris Owens]
Graham Rahal celebrates victory in the Firestone 600 at Texas Motor Speedway   (image credit: IndyCar Media/Chris Owens)
Scott Dixon leads the Indycar field   [pic credit: Indycar media/Bret Kelley]
Will Power - Team Penske   [pic credit: Indycar media/Chris Jones]

Start the conversation - Add your comment

Please login or register before adding your comments.

Although the administrators and moderators of this website will attempt to keep all objectionable comments off these pages, it is impossible for us to review all messages. All messages express the views of the poster, and neither Crash Media Group nor Crash.Net will be held responsible for the content of any message. We do not vouch for or warrant the accuracy, completeness or usefulness of any message, and are not responsible for the contents of any message. If you find a message objectionable, please contact us and inform us of the problem or use the [report] function next to the offending post. Any message that does not conform with the policy of this service can be edited or removed with immediate effect.




© 1999 - 2016 Crash Media Group

The total or partial reproduction of text, photographs or illustrations is not permitted in any form.