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Cheever Racing Teammates Share Row 4 for Start of First of Two on the Roads of St. Pete.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Much like last year, when Marco Andretti started from the pole in his Indy Pro Series debut, Raphael Matos will lead the field to the green flag today in the first of two races (live Timing and Scoring at 3:30 p.m. EST) on the streets of St. Petersburg.

Matos, the 2005 Star Mazda series champion who is driving the No. 41 Guthrie Racing/Car Crafters car, claimed the top starting position with a quick lap of 1 minute, 7.1409 seconds (96.513 mph) during two European-style qualifying sessions on the 1.8-mile, 14-turn circuit. Nine drivers bettered the track record set by Andretti (1:09.3253) last year.

Matos will be joined on the front row by Alex Lloyd, the 2003 McLaren Autosport BRDC Young Driver of the Year award winner. Lloyd, driving the No. 26 Automatic Fire Sprinklers, Inc. car, posted a best lap of 1:07.3754 (96.178 mph).

 
"I'm very excited right now," Matos said. "Unfortunately, we had some traffic issues early in the session. We put on a set of new tires, but didn't get a good lap. Fortunately, on the last run, we were able to put a good run together. Guthrie Racing did an amazing job putting the car together after we had a problem, a crash in the first session. They did an amazing job. Everything worked perfectly. We're looking forward to the race."
On the second row will be Jeff Simmons (1:07.4955), the winner of the season opener March 26 on the Homestead-Miami Speedway oval, and Jay Howard (1:07.5996) in the No. 7 Lucas Oil/Isilon/Sam Schmidt Motorsports car. Last year, Simmons joined Andretti on the front row.

Rookie Jonathan Klein (1:07.9749) and Andretti Green Racing teammate Jaime Camara (1:08.4310) will occupy Row 3. Cheever Racing teammates Nick Bussell (1:08.7167) and Chris Festa (1:08.7571) share Row 4. Rookie Brett Van Blankers, driving the No. 3 Mo’s Gold-Mobley Special car for Brian Stewart Racing (1:08.9474), also was lower than last year’s track record time.

The field for the second race (April 2) will have the top six finishers inverted.  

The No. 25 Automatic Sprinklers, Inc. car driven by Arie Luyendyk Jr. will not complete this weekend's activities after sustaining damage to the tub and gearbox in the second practice session March 31.