INDIANAPOLIS, Ind (Dec. 13, 1999) -Two-time Barber Dodge Pro Series Champion Jeff Simmons today announced that he will join forces with the Team Kool Green Indy Lights program for the 2000 season. Simmons, 23 of East Granby, Conn., is the only...
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind (Dec. 13, 1999) -Two-time Barber Dodge Pro Series Champion Jeff Simmons today announced that he will join forces with the Team Kool Green Indy Lights program for the 2000 season.
Simmons, 23 of East Granby, Conn., is the only two time winner of the Barber Dodge Pro Series Championship in its 16-year history. 1998 brought the first championship in his rookie season. In 1999, Simmons was successfully able to defend his crown against very stiff opposition.
"Everything I learned while driving in the Barber Dodge Pro Series, it being such a competitive series, helped me to prepare for this opportunity to race in Indy Lights," Simmons said.
Simmons is a Skip Barber Three Day Racing School graduate, and went on to win the Rookie of the Year honor in the 1996 Skip Barber Eastern Race Series. Continuing up the ladder, Simmons was again a shoe in for Rookie of the Year in the '98 Barber Dodge Pro Series having joined Indy 500 winner Kenny Brack as the only other driver to have won the Pro Series crown in his debut season. Simmons now joins Geoff and Andy Boss and Tony Renna in the Dayton Indy Lights Championship as the other Skip Barber Trained drivers to have risen through the Skip Barber Race Series and Barber Dodge Pro Series ranks.
In joining Team Kool Green, Simmons becomes a member of one the premier teams on the Indy Lights circuit having delivered Johnny Kane to the Rookie of the Year title in 1999. Team Kool Green, which fields cars for Dario Franchitti and Paul Tracy in the CART FedEx Series, is expanding to a two car effort for 2000 as Simmons will partner Kane. -more
"We feel it's pretty exciting," Team Green General Manager Kim Green said of Simmons' arrival. "I've been watching the Barber Dodge Pro Series for three years, and because the drivers are competing in basically even cars at a cost that represents a good value, drivers are able demonstrate their talent rather than their pocket books. Jeff showed that he was able to master a season in basically equal cars, and we believe that he has the makings of a champion."
"He will elevate the team," Green added, "and should contend for the championship if not this year then next. The whole idea behind having an Indy Lights team is to look for talent for Champ Car."
Simmons is equally confident that the two plus years of racing in the Barber Dodge Pro Series has prepared him well for the challenges of driving an Indy Lights machine.
"In terms of the handling characteristics, the Barber Dodge Reynard and the Indy Lights cars are very similar, and that should help make the transition easier," Simons said.
Simmons re-wrote the Barber Dodge Pro Series record books not only as the only two-time champion but is also the all time prize money leader by a margin that will likely not be equaled for a long time to come. In 26-race career, Simmons notched 6 victories (tied for fourth all time), 6 poles (also tied for fourth all time), 325 points (seventh all-time), averaged 12.5 points per start (tied for third all time) and a phenomenal $651,100 (first all-time) in prize money.