ELKHART LAKE, Wisc. (July 9) - Jeff Simmons would be the first one to admit how important a single point is the quest for his second straight Barber Dodge Pro Series championship, having won the 1998 title by a mere three points. Simmons took a...
ELKHART LAKE, Wisc. (July 9) - Jeff Simmons would be the first one to admit how important a single point is the quest for his second straight Barber Dodge Pro Series championship, having won the 1998 title by a mere three points. Simmons took a step towards picking up a one-point pole bonus by topping the provisional qualifying grid for Round 6 of the Barber Dodge schedule at the CART Texaco/Havoline 200 at Road America Friday afternoon.
Simmons of East Granby, Conn. (2:15.212/106.499 mph) enjoyed a sizeable margin over second-place qualifier Jamie Menninga of Pella, Iowa (2:15.864/105.988 mph), but worried about whether it would be enough to carry through the final qualifying session slated for first thing (8 a.m.) Saturday morning.
"The car was really good. I was trying to use Townsend (Bell) as much as I could for the draft. It's a huge part of the race, and if you can get it right in qualifying, you can bust out a really great lap," Simmons. "I think that at the end of the session tomorrow, it could be quicker because (cooler weather) is going to make a lot of horsepower early in the morning like that and I think that the track will be very quick tomorrow."
For his part, Menninga was thrilled with his career-best session, which edged out Todd Snyder of Sheffield, Mass. (2:16.037/105.854 mph) for the tentative second-place slot on the outside of the front row.
"The car was handling great, you just have to pick up a little bit (of time) everywhere. Every little bit counts in the whole time and it just came together," Menninga said. "I really like the Carousel, it's just hang-on and go."
The 14-turn, four-mile Road America circuit was universally praised by the drivers, who enjoyed the combination of fast corners and elevation changes. Iradj Alexander of Giubiasco, Switzerland continued to build on the momentum of his second-place finish at Round 5 in Cleveland with the fourth-best time (2:16.201/105.726 mph), while Sepp Koster of Heemskerk, Netherlands was fifth (2:16.302/105.648 mph).
Bell (2:16.324/105.631 mph) and defending race champion Nilton Rossoni (2:16.455/105.529 mph) were sixth and seventh, respectively. Brian Pelke of Lansing, Ill. (2:16.607/105.412 mph), Jon Fogarty of Portola Valley, Calif. (2:16.625/105.398 mph) and Memo Rojas Jr. of Mexico City (2:16.720/105.325 mph) completed a tight grouping in the top 10.
The three local drivers were still looking for additional speed when the half-hour session ended. Kip Gulseth of Manitowac, Wisc. was 21st on the grid, while fellow rookie Dale Vandenbush of Green Bay was 23rd. Scott Mayer of Franklin sat 24th on the provisional grid.
Simmons admitted that he planned on holding onto his front-row spot.
"It's very important, partly because it'd be my first pole for this year," Simmons said. "At Cleveland we were second and at Lime Rock, we were second. So it would be great to finally break through for the first pole now."
#ELKHART LAKE, Wisc. - Combined Barber Dodge Pro Series qualifying results from Road America on the four-mile, 14-turn road circuit for Sunday's 40-minute race at the CART Texaco/Havoline 200.
Pos # Driver/Hometown Time/MPH
1 (1) Jeff Simmons/East Granby, Conn. 2:15.212/106.499
2 (2) Jamie Menninga/Pella, Iowa 2:15.864/105.988
3 (11) Todd Snyder/Sheffield, Mass. 2:16.037/105.854
4 (31) Iradj Alexander/Giubiasco,Switzerland 2:16.201/105.726
5 (7) Sepp Koster/The Netherlands 2:16.320/105.648
6 (25) Townsend Bell/Costa Mesa, Calif. 2:16.324/105.631
7 (36) Nilton Rossoni/Curitiba, Brazil 2:16.455/105.529
8 (85) Brian Pelke/Lansing, Ill. 2:16.607/105.412
9 (52) Jon Fogarty/Portola Valley, Calif. 2:16.625/105.398
10 (15) Memo Rojas, Jr./Mexico City, Mexico 2:16.720/105.325
11 (6) Peter Boss/Narragansett, R.I. 2:17.022/105.093
12 (95) Michael Valiante/Vancouver,Canada 2:17.046/105.074
13 (8) Roger Yasukawa/Santa Monica, Calif. 2:17.375/104.823
14 (55) John McCaig/Victoria, B.C., Canada 2:17.556/104.685
15 (71) Rocky Moran, Jr./Coto de Caza, Calif. 2:17.782/104.513
16 (9) Rodrigo Bernardes/Sao Paulo, Brazil 2:17.845/104.465
17 (17) Matt Plumb/Unionville, Pa. 2:18.041/104.317
18 (16) Alexandre Sperafico/ToledoParana, Brazil 2:18.209/104.190
19 (14) Juan Jose Font/Caracas,Venezuela 2:18.385/104.058
20 (13) R. B. Stiewing/Lime Rock, Conn. 2:18.500/103.971
21 (3) Kip Gulseth/Manitowac, Wisc. 2:19.509/103.219
22 (4) Brent Sherman/ Northbrook, Ill. 2:19.970/102.879
23 (44) Dale Vandenbush/Green Bay, Wisc. 2:20.904/102.197
24 (77) Scott Mayer/Franklin, Wis. 2:21.714/101.613