Notebook: Early Morning Action
April 2, 2006 | 3:15 P.M. EST
Matsuura, driver for Super Aguri Fernandez Racing, crashed just eight minutes into the warm up when he ran into the tire barrier in Turn 8. While his car incurred left-side suspension damage, he was checked out and released from the medical center.
Dario Franchitti, who was a few seconds behind, slid into the barrier as an evasive action when he was going into Turn 8 and could not see Matsuura’s disabled vehicle. While he hit the tire barrier, there was minimal to no damage.
Lazier spun just prior to the end of the 30 minute session when he spun off course in Turn 14.
The session, which has been a staple of the open-wheel racing for the last 25 years, has been highly criticized by some in the media following the death of Paul Dana last weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Crashes, Crashes Everywhere
As if a warning sign of things to come, both of this morning’s support series races had wild on course incidents that were comparable to those in yesterday’s Formula One race in Australia, including a crash involving seven vehicles at the start of the SCCA World Challenge race.
Three vehicles were forced to retire from the race as a result of the incident which started when Charles Espenlaub, driver of the No. 97 Tindol Motorsports, cut to the inside and hit Eric Curran which began the chain reaction.
"How about that start?" joked Espenlaub, who is a resident of nearby Lutz, Fla. "I think I was just barely in the front of that and probably part of some of the cause of it. It kind of gets that way when everybody is trying to get to the same spot. I took a pretty good hit in the right rear, and as soon as I looked in the mirror, it was pure chaos behind me."
"Honestly, that’s the worst I’ve felt getting out of a car after such a short race ever," said the full time Grand American Rolex and Cup Series driver. "The car was a little bit of a handful, we had a little alignment issue in the right rear after the contact there."
Similarly, the second of two IRL Indy Pro Series races this weekend saw a variety of crashes this morning. In total, five cars were involved in two accidents accounting for six caution laps out of the 40 run.
Pobst Goes Back-to-Back
In this morning’s Speed Touring race, Randy Pobst repeated as winner of this event.
The Tri-Point Motorsports driver led wire-to-wire from the pole to earn his third career win in the Touring Class division. He also added to his impressive history at road courses, where he has amassed more than 70 career victories.
Peter Cunningham finished in second place, while Pierre Kleinubing, Chip Herr and Espenlaub rounded out the top five.
Matos Goes Two for Two
It hasn’t taken Raphael Matos to get used to life in the Indy Pro Series.
Following his winning debut in yesterday’s first of two Pro Series races in St. Petersburg, he followed up the feat by charging from sixth starting spot to first during the 40 lap event.
"It’s been like a dream come true for me. Everything was perfect for this race," said Matos, who joined Mark Taylor as drivers who have been able to sweep an Indy Pro Series doubleheader.
Rookies Jay Howard and Alex Lloyd completed the top three finishing positions in today’s race.
Who Says Champ and IRL Aren’t Friends
IRL IndyCar driver Helio Castroneves had a form of “home field” advantage this weekend courtesy of Champ Car World Series Champion Sebastien Bourdais.
The Marlboro Team Penske driver, who has developed a friendship with the reigning champion of Champ Car from their previous participation in the International Race of Champions, stayed in Bourdais’ St. Petersburg home this week.