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Indy Lights

Indy Lights winner bumps his way to first

ST. PETERSBURG — Richard Antinucci tugged at his red Firestone cap Saturday and shrugged, joking that "he just couldn't seem to get out of second place" after being runnerup for the second race in a row.

Sunday, however, was Antinucci's day.

He bumped teammate and leader Ana Beatriz late in the race then continued on for his first win of the season in the Indy Lights St. Pete 100.

"We worked on the car (after Saturday)," Antinucci, 27, said. "We did some big changes and we just tried them four laps in the morning and they worked out very well."

But Antinucci's win came at a price. The Sam Schmidt Motorsports driver was penalized 10 points by officials after the race for contact with Beatriz, who wound up 16th.

"I went out (wide) as much as possible and ended up making contact with my teammate, which is not ideal," said Antinucci, who was born in Rome and holds U.S. and Italian citizenship. "I feel sorry for Bea. I want to apologize to her and I feel it's absolutely a racing incident."

Beatriz, who was third Saturday and led eight of the 40 laps Sunday, was trying to become the first woman in Indy Racing League history to take the checkered flag. After the contact Antinucci was never challenged and beat J.R. Hildebrand by 1.5415 seconds. Logan Gomez started 23rd and last but finished third.

"It was just a hectic, typical street course race," Hildebrand said. "I'm just ready to make it through all the attrition and come out on the podium."

Raphael Matos, Saturday's winner, was also involved in a collision. Matos and leader Jeff Simmons bumped tires on Lap  26. Pit crews replaced Matos' tire, but the lost time led to a 12th-place finish. Simmons' race was done; he finished 19th.

"I was trying to out-brake Simmons and was already on the inside and he just turned into me," said Matos, who had X-rays on his sore wrist that came back negative. "I don't think he had any business doing that."

Indy Lights winner bumps his way to first 04/06/08 [Last modified: Monday, April 7, 2008 12:07pm]
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