2003 Skip Barber National Champion Signs with Andretti Green

Monday, January 21, 2008

In his Skip Barber National championship year of 2003, Matos (left) won three of 13 races, finished second three times and beat current Ganassi driver Salvador Duran (above right, Duran on left, Matos on right) 178 points to 157..

Unable to secure a good deal in Champ Car with the $2 million he earned for winning the Champ Car Atlantic powered by Mazda crown, Raphael Matos, the 2003 Skip Barber National champion and 2005 Star Mazda titlist, signed with Andretti Green Racing to run the 2008 Indy Pro Series.

“Champ Car has been my goal since I came to this country in 2001 and but after talking with PKV, Forsythe and Walker Racing, I still wasn’t able to come up with a deal,” said Matos, 26. The Brazilian won six of the 12 races last year in Champ Car’s feeder series.

“I have $2 million and it’s two weeks before pre-season testing begins and I had nothing in Champ Car except one offer. Michael (Andretti) made me a good offer and I had a deadline with him and I just feel I have a better future with his team.”

“At one point I spoke with Kevin [Kalkhoven, who co-owns Champ Car with Gerald Forsythe] and he thought I had a deal with Forsythe and so did I,” continued Matos, whose agent John Caponigro also represents the Andrettis and Sam Hornish, Jr., among others. Matos joins a team with another champion of the Skip Barber National, 2004’s Marco Andretti.

While going from Atlantics to IPS is a lateral move, Matos will get paid to drive at AGR and likely have a shot at moving up as the IRL continues to branch out with road racing.

“I understand I have no experience on ovals and I will spend 2008 learning them,” said Matos, who won two of the four IPS races (on the streets of St. Pete) he competed in before moving full-time to Atlantics in 2006.

“But AGR has an ALMS team and they could run five cars at Indianapolis and I think I have many opportunities with them. Michael made me feel like I had a future with him and made me feel comfortable. Everything the IRL had to offer me was a little bit better as far as my future was concerned.”

Rick Roso

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