Matos De Ferran Good Fit

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When 2009 IZOD IndyCar Series Rookie of the Year Raphael Matos heard that Gil de Ferran was joining forces with Luczo Dragon Racing, he hung up the phone and quickly dialed his new boss.

"He was so excited he could barely stand it," team co-owner Jay Penske said. "He's been so excited and just welcomes the opportunity to race with Gil this year."

Matos first met de Ferran as the 2003 Indianapolis 500 winner began his preparations for a return to the driver seat in 2008. The two quickly became friends and that led to de Ferran recommending Matos to Penske and Steve Luczo as they searched for a driver to build their team around.

"Here's a guy that really kind of struggled a lot of blood, sweat and tears to get to where he is," de Ferran said. "The only reason that he got to where he is is because he has actually been successful at every level that he's raced on so far.

"I guess he's not a rookie anymore, but still, when you compare him to people like Helio (Castroneves) and (Scott) Dixon and Tony (Kanaan), he's a relative rookie, but nevertheless, a rookie with impeccable credentials. First of all, I would say the raw material I believe is of very high quality."

But more importantly, Luczo and Penske feel Matos is very accepting of advice and criticism. With de Ferran's background as a driver and ability to communicate with Matos in their native language they feel like they have the right fit in guiding Matos to race wins and championships.

"Frankly I'm only getting to know Rafa now, and I think for you to be able to transmit some of your experience and your knowledge to somebody, first you have to understand what makes them tick, because my belief on this is horses for courses," de Ferran said. "Everybody has a few different buttons, and I have to learn how Rafa operates because clearly already he does a decent job. I think his success has proven that."

"Plus Gil can say 'stay calm' in Portuguese much better than Jay or I can," Luczo joked.

And if de Ferran needs to fall back on experience, he can look at the last young driver he worked with.

"I started my relationship with Simon Pagenaud as a boss, and today I would say he's my good friend and a mentor," de Ferran said. "I really don't see any issues there. He's a great guy, and we struck up a good personal relationship, and I was happy for him that he had a great break with Steve and Jay last year, and I look forward to working with him. I really don't see any issues here."

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IZOD Indy Car Series, 2010

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