SIMMONS WRAPS UP SECOND BARBER DODGE CROWN WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (Oct. 3) - Jeff Simmons etched his name into the Barber Dodge Pro Series record book with an exclamation point. The 23-year-old native of East Granby, Conn. became the only driver...
SIMMONS WRAPS UP SECOND BARBER DODGE CROWN
WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (Oct. 3) - Jeff Simmons etched his name into the Barber Dodge Pro Series record book with an exclamation point. The 23-year-old native of East Granby, Conn. became the only driver in series history to repeat as champion.
Simmons had a little help from pole sitter Nilton Rossoni of Curitiba, Brazil, who went wire-to-wire for his second win of the season on the 3.4-mile, 11-turn long course at Watkins Glen Sunday morning. Townsend Bell of Costa Mesa, Calif. also gave Simmons breathing room with a daring late-race pass of championship runner-up Todd Snyder of Sheffield, Mass. for second in the race.
Simmons cruised home fifth, enough to best Snyder in the overall standings 152-148. The driver's 10 best finishes count towards the title of the 12-race championship.
"After seeing how well past champions like Kenny Brack and Bryan Herta have done, I just hope to follow in their footsteps," Simmons said. "After winning two championships with this level of competition, I feel confident that I can compete and do well at any level of racing."
The 19-lap thriller was anything but a sure thing for the defending champion. Simmons started second and ended the first lap in seventh place after being forced high up on the turn one curbing with two wheels in the dirt as Rossoni and Snyder hooked up on the inside line.
"It was definitely tight, a lot of side-by-side action on the start going down in there," Snyder said. "I tried to follow Nilton's lead as much as possible so I could slide into second. He definitely did some killer laps at the beginning. He took off like a rabbit."
Rossoni established a gap on Snyder that held through a pair of restarts and stretched out to over three seconds at one point in the race. But Simmons was able to work his way back through the field, and picked off Matt Plumb on lap 6 and Roger Yasukawa on lap 9 to move into the position he needed to be with Snyder running second.
"My car was very good. I had a good start and was able to pull away from everybody," said Rossoni, who finished sixth in the championship and broke a five-race string of bad luck. "On the last restart (lap 14) I made a minor mistake and Todd had a run, so I had to work a little bit to keep him in back of me. I'm very happy to be here and win at Watkins Glen."
Bell stationed himself on Snyder's rear wing by lap 16, then lined up Snyder on the entrance to the track's inner loop area and pulled off the pass to secure second place. Bell's pass also secured Simmons' points lead while also serving to vault himself into third overall for the year.
"On the second-to-last lap I got a run and figured I didn't want to cause a risky situation," Bell explained. "The second time was a little bit better and we went in there side-by-side. I figured what the hell, I'll go for it. I stuck it in there and it worked."
Simmons tucked in safely behind fourth-place Jamie Menninga of Pella, Iowa until the checkered flag waved. Rossoni set a track record in qualifying and backed it up with a record fastest race lap of 1:51.530 at 109.746 mph on lap six.
With the victory and the $300,000 Career Enhancement Award ($250,000 cash plus an Indy Light engine lease package worth $50,000), Simmons ran his 26-race career total to $651,100 in cash earnings along with six race wins and six poles.
Snyder was upbeat despite coming up short of Simmons for the second consecutive year. Snyder finished the year with seven straight podium appearances, including four victories in a five-race span.
"It was good. In the first half I had a lot of problems, and got crashed out of a couple of races," Snyder said. "The second half was incredibly strong. I certainly didn't think I was going to be able to get four wins out of the season and get a chance to run for the championship."
Rookie of the Year candidates Roger Yasukawa of Santa Monica, Calif. and Michael Valiante of Vancouver, B.C. finished sixth and eighth respectively, split by John McCaig of Victoria, B.C. in seventh. The Rookie of the Year award, a fully-paid season of racing valued at $175,000, will be announced Sunday night at the Barber Dodge Pro Series banquet after a vote of Pro Series coaches.
Another rookie contender, Matt Plumb of Unionville, Penn. placed ninth. Jon Fogarty of Portola Valley, Calif. completed the Top 10 and wrapped up fourth in the championship. Sepp Koster of the Netherlands edged Rossoni for fifth in the season tally.
Bill Henderson received a $100 cash bonus after being honored as the Barber Dodge Pro Series Mechanic of the Race.
Final Championship Points 1) Simmons, 152 2) Snyder, 148 3) Bell, 104 4) Fogarty, 98 5) Koster, 97 6) Rossoni, 94 7) Menninga, 90 8) Boss, 88 9) Yasukawa, 81 10) Valiante, 79
WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. - Results Sunday from the 40-minute timed Barber Dodge Pro Series race at the Bosch Sportscar Oktoberfest on the 3.4-mile, 11-turn Watkins Glen long course with finishing position, starting position, driver, hometown or country, laps, reason out (if any), and prize money. All cars are identical Reynard Dodge V6, open-wheel, single-seat race cars on Michelin racing tires.
1 (1) Nilton Rossoni/Curitiba, Brazil, 109.746 mph, 19 laps, $12000 2 (6) Townsend Bell/Costa Mesa, Calif., 19, $8500 3 (3) Todd Snyder/Sheffield, Mass., 19, $6000 4 (7) Jamie Menninga/Pella, Iowa, 19, $4000 5 (2) Jeff Simmons/East Granby, Conn., 19, $2500 6 (4) Roger Yasukawa/Santa Monica, Calif., 19, $2000 7 (8) John McCaig/Victoria, B.C., Canada, 19, $1800 8* (10) Michael Valiante/Vancouver,Canada, 19, $1700 9 (5) Matt Plumb/Unionville, Pa., 19, $1600 10 (11) Jon Fogarty/Portola Valley, Calif., 19, $1500 11 (14) Josh Rehm/Plymouth, Mass., 19, $1400 12 (16) Brent Sherman/ Northbrook, Ill., 19, $1300 13 (17) R. B. Stiewing/Lime Rock, Conn., 19, $1200 14 (9) Sepp Koster/The Netherlands, 14, $1100, Contact 15 (12) Peter Boss/Narragansett, R.I., 11, $1000, Contact 16 (15) Kip Gulseth/Manitowac, Wisc., 6, $500, Contact 17 (13) Alexandre Sperafico/Brazil, 2, $500, Contact
* Change in Postion due to inner loop violation on Lap 16
LENGTH OF RACE: 19 Laps of 3.4 Mile Circuit for 64.600 miles TIME OF RACE : 41:35.779 seconds AVERAGE SPEED: 93.181 mph MARGIN OF VICTORY: .556 Seconds LAP LEADERS: Nilton Rossoni - All Laps FASTEST RACE LAP: Rossoni 1:51.530 (109.746 mph) Lap 6 ***NEW RECORD*** FASTEST QUALIFIER: Rossoni 1:50.963 (110.307 mph) ***NEW RECORD*** PROGRESSIVE CUSTOM WHEELS MOST PROGRESSIVE DRIVER: Townsend Bell from 6th to 2nd TOTAL PAYOUT: $48,600