MATTCO NOTES...Wednesday, May 20, 1998 PPG-Dayton Indy Lights Championship NO SURGERY FOR SIMMONS: Mattco Raceworks driver Chris Simmons visited doctors near his hometown of East Granby, Conn., yesterday and received the good news that surgery...
MATTCO NOTES...Wednesday, May 20, 1998 PPG-Dayton Indy Lights Championship
NO SURGERY FOR SIMMONS: Mattco Raceworks driver Chris Simmons visited doctors near his hometown of East Granby, Conn., yesterday and received the good news that surgery will not be necessary to repair ligaments in his neck. Simmons was injured in a testing accident at Nazareth Speedway on April 18. Doctors previously had been unable to determine the extent of Simmons' injuries due to accumulated fluids in his neck, but x-rays taken on Tuesday indicated that surgery would not be required.
"They said I'll be able to take the collar off in about two weeks," explained Simmons, 25, who was on the pole for last year's Indy Lights race at Gateway, "and then it's a matter of getting the range of motion back and getting my neck muscle strength bac k after six weeks in the collar. As far as getting back in the race car, my doctor wasn't really specific. I'll be toting my x-rays to St. Louis or Indianapolis to see Dr. (Terry) Trammell (CART's chief orthopedic consultant) and he'll probably be able to give me a better indication of when I can race again. I think it will probably be Portland (June 21). I'm really feeling great, no pain or anything. I'm not sure what the therapy will involve. Maybe they'll let me run around in go-karts or somethin g."
HOTCHKIS, RENNA READY FOR THREE-IN-A-ROW: Mark Hotchkis, 29, of Pasadena, Calif., will substitute for Simmons at the next three Indy Lights races at Gateway International Raceway (May 26), The Milwaukee Mile (May 31) and Detroit (June 7). "This could be a really good three-race stretch," said Hotchkis, who has competed in Indy Lights for the past three years and was Simmons' teammate at Team KOOL Green in '97. "I've had great runs at both of the next two ovals. I qualified second to Chris at Gateway l ast year and led for about 18-20 laps until a gearbox problem put me out. I sat on the pole and won at Milwaukee in 1996. Last year, we didn't qualify well there, but I had a great race, moving from dead last to finish 7th. And I've had three top-10 fi nishes the last three years at Detroit." Hotchkis also filled in at Nazareth on April 27, finishing 9th in the No. 78 Alco Capital Group/Nassi Group Lola.
"Nine days on the track in three weeks should be fun," said Mattco Raceworks driver Tony Renna, 21, of DeLand, Fla., an Indy Lights rookie who will be making his third start at Gateway. "This is nothing new for me. When I raced sprint cars and quarter m idgets we had three races in a row in one weekend, every weekend. I love this. It's what I do it for, to drive the car. If I had my way, I'd race 52 weeks a year." Renna drives the No. 77 Alco Capital Group/Nassi Group Lola.