IPS: Simmons gets first career victory in St. Louis

IPS: Simmons gets first career victory in St. Louis

Jeff Simmons won his first Infiniti Pro Series race, taking the victory in this afternoon's Gateway 100 at Gateway International Raceway. Simmons was running third when a two-car accident ended the day for frontrunners Mark Taylor and Brandon ...

Jeff Simmons won his first Infiniti Pro Series race, taking the victory in this afternoon's Gateway 100 at Gateway International Raceway. Simmons was running third when a two-car accident ended the day for frontrunners Mark Taylor and Brandon Irwin.

Jeff Simmons.
Photo by indyracing.com/Ron McQueeney.
Taylor, who has five victories in eight races, continued his domination of the series, leading Irwin by over two seconds with 20 laps remaining. Facing traffic, with Irwin and Simmons closing to within one second, the trio raced for the white flag through the second turn. Taylor slid high and had to lift to keep from hitting the wall.

Irwin saw an opening on the bottom and made his bid for victory. Taylor veered to the left, closing the hole and forcing Irwin to try the high side. Seeing his chances of victory slipping away, Taylor drifted towards the outside wall and the two collided. Taylor's machine spun to the inside while Irwin's Sam Schmidt Racing entry slid along the outside wall, where it finally came to rest.

Neither driver was injured.

Simmons was able to split the spinning cars to take his first career win.

"I saw Mark got held up in traffic and I figured he would be all right if he just took his time," said Simmons. "Looks like he just pushed high in (turns) one and two. As he came back down, Brandon had a pretty good run on him. Looked like Mark tried to throw a little bit of a block on him coming out of two.

"I slowed down right away to try and figure out which way the cars were going to go. I saw them separating, so I just shot through the middle before the hole closed."

Taylor realized he made a mistake, apologizing immediately after the incident. "It was totally my fault," said Taylor, who still leads the championship standings by 91 points over Simmons. "I made a mistake, ran wide, came back down to the inside, and Brandon was right behind me. He got along the outside, and I tried to give him a bit of room on the outside, because I realized he was there. I just didn't give him enough room, and he hit my back wheel."

Cory Witherhill finished second with Arie Luyendyk, Ed Carpenter and Tom Wood rounding out the top five.

Wood nearly missed the race due to a four car accident in the morning warm up. The accident, not of Wood's making, involved Gary Peterson, Moses Smith, and Luyendyk. Wood's crew worked feverishly making repairs up until the time competitors were pushed off the grid. Wood was allowed to resume his front row starting position but he quickly faded back.

"I'm amazed we even had a race car," said Wood. "They were still fixing the car as we were heading out to the grid. We destroyed the car and the crew was awesome. Fifth was a gift."

The Infiniti Pro Series next competes next weekend at the Kentucky Speedway.

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About this article
Series Indy Lights
Drivers Mark Taylor , Brandon Irwin , Arie Luyendyk , Sam Schmidt , Moses Smith , Gary Peterson , Tom Wood , Jeff Simmons , Ed Carpenter