IPS: Simmons gets first career pole at Pikes Peak

Rookie driver Jeff Simmons scored his first Infiniti Pro Series pole today at Pikes Peak International Raceway. The former and only two-time champion of the Barber Dodge Pro Series held nothing back at the one mile oval to take the top spot with a...

Rookie driver Jeff Simmons scored his first Infiniti Pro Series pole today at Pikes Peak International Raceway. The former and only two-time champion of the Barber Dodge Pro Series held nothing back at the one mile oval to take the top spot with a speed of 154.220 mph (23.3433 seconds).

The Keith Duesenberg Racing driver from Connecticut proved why the team signed him this year to pilot the No. 20 Western Union Speed Team Dallara. Simmons started his racing career in quarter-midgets, the Sports Car Club of America's Formula 2000 series, CART's Barber Pro and the now-defunct Indy Lights before joining the Infiniti Pro Series this season. Along the way, the talented young man found time to attend Boston College (graduated in 1998 with a bachelor of arts in computer science).

"It's really great to be on pole here because with Western Union being based in Denver, this is sort of like a home race," said the very happy Simmons. "When all of them come to the track tomorrow, they're going to be excited to see us up front.

"Qualifying was the first time that we were on the track after the motor change. The car was really good. The wind died down. It seemed like there wasn't much wind, so the car was almost exactly the way I want it."

Simmons is currently seventh in the standings. Just ahead of him in the standings is Cory Witherill who will start alongside on the front row. Witherill was clocked at 151.942 mph, 0.350 seconds slower than Simmons.

The native American Indian driver in open-wheel competition won the 2002 Nashville race. Hemelgarn Johnson Motorsports driver is pleased to have scored his best qualifying position in the 2003 season.

"It's great," stated Witherill. "Especially at a track like this, where you're flat all the way around. The closer you start to the front, the less work you have to do. It's a sprint race to get to the front, so we won't have to work as hard. We'll just have to work hard to fight off the competition."

Witherill's teammate, Aaron Fike will start third. "Overall, I'm pretty happy with the Hemelgarn Johnson team. The crew did a great job. We got faster as it cooled down, and I'm sure it's equal for everybody. This is probably one of my favorite tracks. I've always had good luck in open-wheel stuff as far as (USAC) Silver Crown and Midget cars."

Rounding out the second row is A.J. Foyt's driver Ed Carpenter. The winner of the inaugural Indy Freedom 100 had his motor seize up on his qualifying attempt: "A hundred feet before I got to the start/finish line on my first lap, the motor started seizing up. It's kind of a bummer. I think we would have put in a quick time, for sure. We came in here really confident, and the car has been perfect. The whole Foyt team has just been great."

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About this article
Series Indy Lights
Drivers Cory Witherill , Aaron Fike , Jeff Simmons , A.J. Foyt , Ed Carpenter