SIMMONS WELCOMES EARLY SHOWER IN HOMESTEAD HEAT
HOMESTEAD, Fla. (October 16) - Jeff Simmons got a little wet in the first qualifying session Friday for Round 11 of the Barber Dodge Pro Series. But unlike most drivers piloting the open cockpit Barber Dodge cars, the rain shower did not seem to dampen his spirits.
In fact, Simmons found the rain to be downright refreshing. The sudden appearance of a dark cloud on the back part of the track allowed Simmons, of East Granby, Conn., to stake an early claim on the provisional pole position for Saturday's Barber Dodge Pro Series race. It also gave Simmons, who recorded a best lap of 1:25.264 at 93.310 mph, a head start on the crucial bonus point in the season standings that comes with the pole position.
"We started to get a couple of sprinkles, then it went away, and then it started coming down," Simmons said. "Once that happened, I knew that nobody was going to beat it."
Simmons laid down his lap about five minutes before the 30-minute session was black-flagged by the obtrusive rain cloud, which descended on the back straight of the 2.21-mile, 14-turn Homestead road course circuit. The early end to the qualifying came with approximately four minutes left on the session clock, which is normally the time frame in which the fastest laps are turned due the lighter fuel load in the cars.
It put Simmons, who leads the Barber Dodge Pro Series' adjusted points standings, in position to put another point between himself and second-place Todd Snyder of Sheffield, Mass. before the race even begins. Simmons leads Snyder 126-121 in the adjusted points battle, which reflects the dropping of the drivers' two lowest-scoring outings of the year per the Pro Series rules.
Nilton Rossoni of Curitiba, Brazil was right on Simmons' trail and settled into the second spot with a lap of 1:25.284 at 93.288 mph. It was the first race for the 18-year old Brazilian since winning Round 8 at Road America in August. Alex Gurney of Newport Beach, Calif. logged the third-fastest lap with a 1:25.354 at 93.212 mph. Giovanni Anapoli of Italy (1:25.472/93.083 mph) and John McCaig of Canada (1:25.529/93.021 mph) complete the top five.
Snyder found himself in the eighth provisional grid position after trying unsuccessfully to sneak one last quick lap in before the skies opened up.
"It certainly didn't help with the black flag all," Snyder admitted. "I was trying to get one more going in there, but the rain hit turn nine, which is a bad corner, and finished off the whole track."
Simmons knows he might have to up the ante in the final qualifying session Saturday morning, but must keep the car in shape for the 40-minute timed Barber Dodge Pro Series race later in the afternoon.
"I know that I have a little bit left because I made some mistakes on that lap, and I am sure that everybody else has some left, too," Simmons stated cautiously. "I don't think that pole time is safe by any means."
Starting order for Saturday's Barber Dodge Pro Series race at the FIA GT Race at the Homestead Motorsports Complex in Homestead, Fla. Qualifying position, car number, driver, hometown or country, lap time and average miles per hour around the 2.21-mile, 14-turn road course. All cars are identical Reynard Dodge V-6, open-wheel, single-seat race cars on Michelin racing tires.
1 21 Jeff Simmons/East Granby, Conn. 01:25.264 93.310 2 36 Nilton Rossoni/Cuitiba, Brazil 01:25.284 93.288 3 27 Alex Gurney/Newport Beach, Calif. 01:25.354 93.212 4 18 Giovanni Anapoli/Montecchio, Italy 01:25.472 93.083 5 55 John McCaig/Victoria, B.C., Canada 01:25.529 93.021 6 32 Sepp Koster/The Netherlands 01:25.551 92.997 7 31 Iradj Alexander-David/Switzerland 01:25.627 92.915 8 11 Todd Snyder/Sheffield, Mass. 01:25.685 92.852 9 17 Matt Plumb/Unionville, Pa. 01:25.745 92.787 10 76 Will Langhorne/Warrenton, Va. 01:25.857 92.666 11 4 Thomas Schie/Oslo, Norway 01:25.925 92.592 12 25 Townsend Bell/Los Altos Hills, Calif. 01:25.935 92.582 13 2 Jamie Menninga/Pella, Iowa 01:26.017 92.493 14 22 Eric Tresslar/Denver, Colo. 01:26.118 92.385 15 52 Jon Fogarty/Portola Valley, Calif. 01:26.133 92.369 16 6 Peter Boss/Narragansett, R.I. 01:26.393 92.091 17 40 Tom Woods/Rancho Cordova, Calif. 01:26.436 92.045 18 28 Ryan Hunter-Reay/Boca Raton, Fla. 01:26.558 91.915 19 85 Brian Pelke/Lansing, Ill. 01:26.642 91.826 20 1 Charles Willis/Germantown, Tenn. 01:26.650 91.818 21 23 Jon Vannini/Hillsborough, Calif. 01:27.661 90.759 22 37 Josh Rehm/Plymouth, Mass. 01:27.674 90.745 23 29 Jens Tjarnlund/Stockholm, Sweden 01:28.221 90.183 24 9 Brent Sherman/Northbrook, Ill. 01:28.307 90.095 25 44 Michael Morris/Dallas, Texas 01:28.525 89.873 26 16 Salvatore Lombardo/Brooklyn, New York 01:29.883 88.515