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Matos hits Indy Lights trifecta in St. Petersburg

ST. PETERSBURG — Richard Antinucci finished second in as many races this season and Ana Beatriz set a circuit record, but Raphael Matos once again stole the show.

Matos ran his record here to a perfect 3-for-3 as he led from pole to the checkered flag Saturday, winning the Indy Lights series St. Petersburg 100.

"I train a lot on street courses and I don't know, it just fits my style," said Matos, who led all 40 laps. "I'm able to drive the car to the limit most of the time."

Matos, who won the then-Indy Pro Series doubleheader in St. Petersburg two years ago, is 3-for-6 all time on IndyCar's developmental circuit. The Brazilian, 26, has led 108 of his 120 laps in St. Petersburg.

"I like this place very much," Matos said.

Matos got separation early in the race, especially during the second caution on Lap 8 when Antinucci fell off the pace.

"I made a big mistake," Antinucci said. "I stuck in third gear coming out of the hairpin. It's actually a second-gear corner and as you saw I had a big understeering moment."

Antinucci also placed second last week at Homestead and leads the series with 82 points, four ahead of Matos. Beatriz's third-place finish gives her 61 total points this season.

Beatriz, second briefly in her second career start, became the highest finishing female driver in series history.

"(Being up) on the podium (this early in my career) surprised me," Beatriz said. "But I'm looking forward to (today's) race and trying to finish on the podium again."

Matos will try to make it 4-for-4 today in the second race, beginning at 10:45 a.m. The top four finishers from Saturday — Jeff Simmons placed fourth — will be inverted for today's race, meaning Simmons will sit on the pole and Matos will start the race fourth.

Matos hits Indy Lights trifecta in St. Petersburg 04/05/08 [Last modified: Sunday, April 6, 2008 12:06pm]
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