LONG BEACH, California – Sierra Sierra Enterprises claimed victory at Round 2 of The Cooper Tires Presents the Champ Car Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda series. Raphael Matos (#6 ProWorks) dominated the weekend at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, claiming pole at both qualifying sessions, leading all 31 laps of the Sunday morning race and claiming every championship point possible.
Hoping that the race would yield fewer caution flags and more racing than was seen in the Las Vegas series opener, Matos was careful to avoid contact while maintaining his lead position at both the race start as well as during each of the restarts:
"It was a complicated start. I was able to avoid contact and once we cleared the fist corner I was able to pull the gap. It was important to have good restarts – I knew that if I kept clean on the restarts I would be ok. The car was a little different than the day before because of the overnight rain – so it was a little slick. Overall a great weekend!"
Matos also claimed the fastest lap with a top time of 1:16.554 (92.546 mph) on the 1.968-mile street course in downtown Long Beach. Matos leads the championship point battle with 65 points, an 11-point lead over his closest competitor.
Placing 7th, James Hinchcliffe (#9 NOCO/ProWorks) was able to move up three places from his starting position of 10th. Mechanical issues prevented him from achieving a better qualifying position, so Hinchcliffe's plan was to make as much headway as possible with each lap:
"We had a little issue with the brakes that started at the race in Vegas, and it took us a little longer to find it than we would have hoped. But my Sierra Sierra crew got it sorted out and really gave me a great car. In a series as competitive as Atlantic, it is really hard to rebound from a 10th place start. We moved up a few spots and got the points. We are still 5th overall and now we have everything sorted so there is no reason the Noco/ProWorks car won't be right up there in Houston! I have the best crew and we are really hungry for that first podium and our first win!"
The Sierra Sierra Enterprises team is on the move to round out the last of three back-to-back weekends in Houston, Texas. The Fast Trac 100 at the Grand Prix of Houston will take place this weekend (April 20-22).