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Saturday morning practice at Houston topped by Matos

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Saturday Morning Practice at Houston Topped by Provisional Pole-Winner Matos


Houston, TX (April 21m 2007) - Continuing to call upon his speed seemingly whenever he wants, Sierra Sierra Enterprises driver Raphael Matos (#6 ProWorks) scored the top time in Saturday morning practice at the Fast Trac 100 at the Grand Prix of Houston (tape-delayed broadcast on ESPN2 at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 26.


After getting nearly seven-tenths-of-a-second clear of the field on Friday while claiming the provisional pole for the third round of the Cooper Tires Presents The Champ Car Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda, Matos produced the top time again in the day's first practice. The 25-year-old Brazilian circled the track in 1:04.993 (93.222 mph) and emerged as the only driver to break the one-minute-five-second mark.


Matos actually faced a tough battle for the top lap throughout the scheduled 45-minute morning practice as his Sierra Sierra teammate James Hinchcliffe (#9 NOCO/ProWorks) also owned the top time for a good portion of the session. "Hinch" wound up second on the leaderboard as he checked in with a lap of 1:05.176 (92.961 mph).


The practice was brought to an early end after Bret MacDonald (#21 Brelia Ent./Bam/BCP/Rock House) suffered an accident that took off his back wing with just over two minutes remaining on the timing clock. MacDonald was uninjured in the incident.


After finishing fourth in first-round qualifying, Franck Perera (#11 CJ Motorsport) slotted in third in the practice session. Perera of Condor Motorsports owned a fast lap of 1:05.327 (82.386 mph).


American drivers Carl Skerlong (#24 King Taco/USRT) and Jonathan Bomarito (#23 Miracle Sealants/Konica Minolta/Dynacor) completed the top-five practice times. Skerlong stopped the clock at 1:05.390 (82.306 mph) for US RaceTronics while Bomarito secured a fast lap of 1:05.501 (82.167 mph) for PR1 Motorsports.


The Mazda-Cosworth/Swift/Cooper Atlantic cars return to the track this afternoon at 12:15 p.m. CT for the final round of qualifying.

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