Jeff Segal Brings GT Points Lead to History-Making Brickyard Grand Prix Rolex Sports Car Series Race Friday with Emil Assentato and AIM Autosport Team FXDD
Team adds to the “Prancing Horse” Legend at Indy in No. 69 AIM Autosport Team FXDD Ferrari 458 Italia Grand Am
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - Jeff Segal will carry the proud tradition of the “Prancing Horse” and the famous Ferrari red colors to the legendary grounds of Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) Friday where he will join co-driver Emil Assentato and AIM Autosport Team FXDD in the inaugural Brickyard Grand Prix GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series race.
Segal, who will be making his first race start at Indy, brings the best race-win record in the 2012 GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series and the GT class championship points lead to the Brickyard. Segal and Assentato co-drove the No. 69 AIM Autosport Team FXDD Ferrari 458 Italia Grand Am to victories this year at Homestead-Miami Speedway, New Jersey Motorsports Park and last month at Road America. Segal and the first-year AIM Autosport Team FXDD Ferrari program also have a series-best six GT podium finishes in the season’s first eight races, with only one result out of the top four all year.
“We have been very serious about making Ferrari's return to the Rolex Series as successful as possible, and certainly leading the championship is the mark that we set for ourselves to achieve this,” Segal said. “A lot of work and planning has gone into this effort personally, by AIM Autosport Team FXDD, and with our colleagues overseas with Ferrari. I don't think I expected to be in this position, although it was certainly the goal for the program, and I'm definitely not surprised. If anything, I feel like we're right where we should be.”
Continuing this season’s success at Indy would be particularly gratifying for Segal and his teammates. Although GRAND-AM Ferrari Challenge and Porsche Supercup support races have been held on the IMS road course in the recent past, the Brickyard Grand Prix is the first headline sports car race in the Speedway’s more than 100-year history. Segal also has a chance to continue Ferrari’s impressive win record established in the Formula 1 races held at Indy in the last decade.
“Being a part of the first sports car race at IMS is definitely going to be special,” Segal said. “There is no doubt that everyone in the paddock is putting a special emphasis on winning this race above the others. When I look at the other races run at this track, it’s clear that Ferrari has been a manufacturer with a very strong record there, so hopefully that bodes well for us. On the infield road course that we will use this weekend, Ferrari won six of the eight races held there from 2000-2007, so I would like to follow in the footsteps of the Formula 1 team for sure!”
A challenge for Segal and every other competitor in the three-hour race will be tire management on the notoriously tough IMS racing surface. The series-standard Continental tires performed well during a two-day test earlier this month that was run in brutally hot conditions with temperatures exceeding 100 degrees.
“Indy will definitely be a difficult test of tire wear and a challenging track to perfect the setup,” Segal said. “If the race is held in hot conditions like what we faced at the test, it will really demand a lot of finesse and patience to be strong over a full stint. The track is extremely low-grip, so as a driver I expect to be fighting the car the entire time, but I think we left the test with a good baseline to work from when we return for race day, and I'm confident that our tire management will again be a valuable asset. In a three hour race I have some concerns about our fuel mileage compared to our competitors, but we'll focus on maximizing our strategy and hope that this is enough for another strong finish.”
Segal, Assentato and the No. 69 Autosport Team FXDD entry come to Indy with a 16-point lead in the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series GT Championship standings. Segal and Assentato have 250 points to top the driver standings while the No. 69 AIM Autosport Team FXDD Ferrari 458 Italia Grand Am leads the team championship with the same points total.
- Continuing the winning tradition that the Ferrari Formula 1 team established in recent years at Indy is only part of the “Prancing Horse” pressure for Segal this week. He will be making his first Indy start exactly 60 years after Ferrari, and legendary two-time World Champion driver Alberto Ascari, made its Brickyard debut and one and only appearance in the Indianapolis 500. Ferrari built four different cars for the 1952 race, including one for 1950 Indy 500 winner Johnnie Parsons, but only Ascari qualified in his Luigi Chinetti-entered No. 12. Ascari started 19th but retired on lap 40 with a broken wheel and was listed 31st in the final race results. Another Ferrari attempted to make the race two years later but missed the show, making Ascari’s lone start the only Indy 500 race for a Ferrari in the event’s 101-year history.
- The on-track competition isn’t the only battle for a team when you are leading a championship and having a season as good as Segal’s and AIM Autosport Team FXDD. Tuning out the “white noise” and some occasional finger-pointing in the paddock comes with the territory.
“All season I have done my best to focus on maximizing our results and trying not to worry much about what other people are saying or doing,” Segal said. “We've done our very best to build our points tally at every race so far, and I'm pleased that I don't have many regrets about what we have done. At Watkins Glen, we found ourselves in a situation where the performance of our car was really only capable of fighting for the last step of the podium, and in that circumstance I'm glad that we managed to get every point that we could.
“I think that there is always going to be baggage that comes with success, and in this case our strong opening half of the season put a target on us for the rest of the GT field,” Segal said. “Honestly, I'm flattered that we've done enough to get so many established teams all worked up about our results. That just tells me we're doing a good job. Regardless of what they say or do, my objective stays the same and I'm staying focused on our goals.”
Source: Jeffery Segal media