San Jose, California – For Raphael Matos (#6 ProWorks) and the Sierra Sierra team, the San Jose Grand Prix was a dream come true. There was no better place to clinch the 2007 Cooper Tires Presents the Champ Car Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda series than in front of the hometown crowd, including many from ProWorks (www.pro-works.com), the team's Santa Clara based sponsor.
The San Jose Grand Prix has been a strong venue for Matos. In the 2006 season it was the location of his first Atlantic career win. Coming back this year it was poised to be another career changing event. On the heels of back-to-back wins in Edmonton, Matos knew going into the race that he had a chance of clinching the championship. After two caution-flag filled qualifying sessions, Matos started the race in fourth and was able to advance to third at the start. Despite giving that position back to Robert Wickens (#3 Red Bull/INDECK) at a late race restart, he finished fourth but secured the championship.
With Round 12 representing a total of 34 points available, Matos clinched the series championship and the $2 million prize toward a 2008 Champ Car World Series ride with a 36-point lead over Franck Perera (#11 CJ Motorsport/Continental Cartage Inc).
With just one race to go, Matos reflects on his win. "This is a dream come true. The team and I worked very hard this year and last year to get here and I can't thank them enough. The Sierra Sierra team gave me such a great opportunity and I will always appreciate them for putting me in this car. They have been like family to me."
James Hinchcliffe (#9 NOCO/ProWorks) did not have as much luck in San Jose after making contact with the wall to avoid contact with another car. Hinchcliffe did not finish the race and looks to improve his points standings at the upcoming season finale Road America race (August 10 – 12). Hinchcliffe currently holds fourth in the championship point's race.
Matos' win represents the first Atlantic series championship for the Sierra Sierra team who had come in second in the 2003 and 2004 seasons. In 2007, a combination of teamwork, skill and speed created a winning combination that the team is proud of.
"This has been an amazing year," said team owner, Stacey Behrendt. "We have such a strong team – crew, drivers and engineers. I want to thank everyone involved for their dedication, hard work and perseverance. We struggled a bit last year but took away what was good and applied it this year to create the winning formula. Not only has this season been successful in terms of wins, it has been a lot of fun!"