Matos, in for Guthrie, has fastest lap at Indy testing

Updated: June 20, 2006, 7:25 PM ET
Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS -- Raphael Matos had a late start and a fast finish in the Indy Pro Series testing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The 24-year-old Brazilian arrived two hours into Tuesday's session as a substitute for injured Sean Guthrie, who was not cleared to drive because of a concussion from a crash last week in Milwaukee.

Matos ended up with the fastest lap among the 19 drivers who tested on Indy's 2.6-mile road course.

"I was actually surprised with the opportunity," said Matos, who won the two Indy Pro Series street races at St. Petersburg, Fla., in April. "They called me yesterday. ... I'm happy to be in the car again, and happy to be here."

Despite having driven in only three of the five races so far this season, the two wins at St. Petersburg have him tied for fifth in the developmental series standings going into the Liberty Challenge on July 1, the day before the Formula One U.S. Grand Prix on the same Indy track.

"The day went pretty good," said Matos, who had a top lap of 108.502 mph. "We missed probably half of the morning session, but we started the day with a pretty good baseline, and we just went from that. In the afternoon, we put a new set of stickers [tires] on it, and we tried a qualifying run, and it worked pretty good."

Matos is driving for Guthrie Racing.

Sean Guthrie, son of team owner Jim Guthrie, was re-examined Monday by IRL medical director Henry Bock but not cleared to drive.

"It was not very good for planning, so we called Raphael to help us out," Jim Guthrie said. "Fortunately, he had just got home from Portland, and he was able to get here and only missed a few hours this morning. He got up to speed pretty quick."

Alex Lloyd was second-quickest at 108.138 mph, followed by defending series champion Wade Cunningham at 107.934 and 2006 points leader Jay Howard at 107.823.

Graham Rahal, 17-year-old son of car owner and former Indy 500 winner Bobby Rahal, was next at 107.780 mph.

"It's a great car," the younger Rahal said. "It's been enjoyable so far. It's got a lot of power. Certainly around this track, on road courses, it feels pretty good. We certainly got a lot of work done, were not too far off, but we've got a lot of work to do before the race."


Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press