IRL: Simmons lands second Mo Nunn Racing ride at Indy

Finishing second doesn't always mean you're the "first loser". American Jeff Simmons made that discovery today after dicing with Menards Infiniti Pro Series Futaba Freedom 100 victor Thiago Medeiros throughout the 100-mile race and leading five...

Finishing second doesn't always mean you're the "first loser".

American Jeff Simmons made that discovery today after dicing with Menards Infiniti Pro Series Futaba Freedom 100 victor Thiago Medeiros throughout the 100-mile race and leading five laps under green.

Shortly after the 40-lap contest was complete around the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the 27-year-old New York resident got the call from Morris Nunn of Mo Nunn Racing, who offered Simmons the opportunity to attempt qualifying for the 88th Indianapolis 500 Mile Race tomorrow on Bump Day.

"This is just great," Simmons exclaimed. "I'm getting the opportunity of a lifetime and I'm thankful to Mo Nunn, [team manager] Peter Parrott and everyone at the Indy Racing League that has helped put this together for me."

Simmons started this afternoon's race from third grid position and brazenly hounded Medeiros by the first turn. Following the first caution he aced the Brazilian into Turn 1 and led for five laps before being passed by the eventual winner.

Driving A.J. Foyt's #14 Futaba/Delphi Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone challenger, Simmons shadowed the winner throughout the balance of green- flag running. It was his first Menards Infiniti Pro Series start of the season.

"I just had a great run in the Pro Series and, to be honest, that helped give me the chance," Jeff Simmons explained. "The race today had something to do with this deal coming together. It goes to show that IndyCar Series team owners are watching the Pro Series races and they are looking for new talent," he declared.

In his 2003 rookie season of Menards Infiniti Pro Series competition, Jeff Simmons finished second in the points chase to Mark Taylor, scoring back-to- back victories at Gateway and Kentucky. He also logged two pole positions in 12 series starts in 2003.

"Once upon a time [drivers] couldn't get there without bringing a whole lot of money, but that's starting to turn around," Simmons said. "I'm just looking forward to this opportunity and I can't thank the IRL and Mo Nunn Racing enough."

Among Simmons' distinctions in the open wheel arena, he is the sole two- time champion of the Barber Dodge Pro Series, taking the title in 1998-99.

Jeff Simmons expects to get some seat time late this afternoon in his #21 Mo Nunn Racing Dallara/Toyota/Firestone Indy car. It is the twin vehicle to regular Mo Nunn driver Tora Takagi's #12 Pioneer Dallara/Toyota.

Simmons passed the first three parts of Rookie Orientation Program during the Monday test day late last month. He did so in less than 20 laps, reaching 212mph in less than 10 laps in an A.J. Foyt Dallara/Toyota.

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Mark Taylor , Tora Takagi , Morris Nunn , Jeff Simmons , A.J. Foyt , Mo Nunn , Thiago Medeiros