Futaba Freedom 100 Second- and Third-Place press conference Jeff Simmons, Arie Luyendyk Jr. Saturday, May 22, 2004 Pat Sullivan: Second- and third-place finishers in the Freedom 100, Jeff Simmons, of course who has won a couple of times in ...
Futaba Freedom 100 Second- and Third-Place press conference
Jeff Simmons, Arie Luyendyk Jr.
Saturday, May 22, 2004
Pat Sullivan: Second- and third-place finishers in the Freedom 100, Jeff Simmons, of course who has won a couple of times in this series, a former Barber Dodge Pro champion. And Arie Luyendyk Jr. probably leads this series in podiums, just a whole range of very, very good finishes. Congratulations on the second- and third-place run. Arie is, of course, lamenting this run, but nonetheless, a nice performance. Jeff, take us back to that first lap because it looked pretty tight between and you Thiago.
Simmons: Yeah, I thought I was going to get him on that first lap, actually. I got a good run and got down the inside there, and he was just able to drive around on the outside, and we touched a little bit coming out of (Turn) 2 there. And I'm not sure if I drifted up a little or he came down, but it's probably a little of both. I don't think that that really did anything to the car. Although it's possible because we did have a pretty bad understeer a little bit later on as all of the tires came up with the pressure and all that. But unfortunately we weren't able to hold on the lead in that first corner, and after that, it was just kind of a battle for the rest of the race trying to keep the car down.
Q: When he got around you, it looked like he got a good tow and moved around you; were you surprised he was able to break free to the degree that he was?
Simmons: Not really. Because we had such a bad understeer in Turn 3, especially. Turn 1, I could get through there flat, just about every time. Turn 3, it was always kind of a crapshoot. I was putting things down on the grass trying to use as much track as I could. I was dropping -- I was shifting and doing everything I could, trying to get through Turn 3.
Q: Was it the wind?
Simmons: Well, the wind made Turn 3 worse, yeah. The way the wind is blowing today, it would make Turn 3, it would give you the most understeer over there. So I knew it was a matter of time when I got a big push like that that he would get a little run. Seemed like he could drive just about anywhere he wanted. He could run high and still run through there flat.
Sullivan: I see you nodding a lot, and from your advantage point, what did you say when you came in? You thought maybe on the longer run, you might have had a shot at him, as well. Take us through your day and had you your car performed?
Luyendyk: Well, starting fifth, I knew it was going to be hard because my car was really bad in traffic during the warm-up yesterday. I was a bit concerned with the car. But by the time the race came around and we went into the first corner, I was already in fourth, and then a few laps later, I was able to get Paul Dana for third, so right then I knew my car was pretty good. Yesterday was quite loose during the warm-up, and then I was really relieved to see that I wasn't loose any more, and it just had a bit of understeer. You know, Thiago and Jeff were battling up there and I was catching up, and on the longer runs, I notice Jeff did have a really good car through 1 and 2, and he was struggling in 3 a bit. So I tried to get as close to him as I could through 1 and 2 and then line him you through 3 and 4, and I was flat through 3 and 4 every lap. My problem was just Turn 2, the car seemed to be really susceptible to the wind, and a few laps almost caught me out. So that's what I was concerned with, and I was hoping for a longer run because I was getting closer and closer to Jeff, and I had once before, but then I had to get off the throttle pretty good in Turn 1 because I picked up a good understeer. And then I was working my way back up to him, and that's when the yellow came out. So I wasn't close enough to get a good run on him yet, and I think maybe I would have if his car -- if the race would have stayed green, the car would have gotten worse and mine stayed pretty consistent.
Q: Did you brush the outside wall?
Luyendyk: Yeah, the last five laps there I was just pushing as hard as I could it was pretty -- exit one. There was a lot of oil dried down and Turn 1 seemed to be a bit difficult toward the end of the race.
Q: Jeff, what's next for you after this race?
Simmons: I really have no idea right now. I'm still hoping that there's a possibility I'll get in the car tomorrow for the chance on Bump Day, but I really don't know what the chances of that are. I mean, chances look good at some point. Earlier in the week, they were looking a little better, and that sort of went away. So, just kind of keep my fingers crossed and hopefully I'll get a shot after that. After that, there's really no plans for the rest of the year. Hopefully I'll be able to get in a car somewhere.
Q: Arie, you knew what Thiago had under the hood, what he was dealing with. Did you think it would be tough to catch him from the time he took off from Jeff?
Luyendyk: Ever since we rolled off from the truck, his car has been a bit better than mine. It seems to be happening every weekend. Our crew needs to figure out what they are doing, and it seems just to be the car because our data, when we make the cars the same, we throw his setup in my car, our data seems to be completely different as far as the characteristics of the car. I think his car has a bit of an inherent push, and my car seems to be more neutral, and we are just trying to figure that out and hopefully we can by the next race. I knew it would be difficult to catch him, but I knew if I could get in his tow and the car was good in traffic, anything could happen. It's unfortunate that we had to start fifth. I think that was our biggest downfall. I think if we would have started up further, we could have done better, but, you know, that's how it goes.
Q: Do you think you'll run in the IRL next year?
Luyendyk: That was my goal this year. Over the winter, we were looking at a lot of teams and a lot of people have interest as far as the team owners are concerned and sponsors. We just can't find enough money to put it all together, but hopefully next year, with the help of some of our sponsors currently, that we can jump up to the big car and perform there. I did my rookie test in 2002 and I was really comfortable with the Indy car back then. I have so much more experience under my belt since then that I think I would adapt very quickly.
Q: Jeff, history lesson for those maybe who forgot, you like that inside groove on the first turn in the first lap, you took it on Ed (Carpenter), or I think tried to take it on him early in the race?
Simmons: Yeah, I generally get pretty good starts, I think and pretty good restarts. I got a good start this time. And last year, I probably could have got Ed, except for the engine just hiccupped there for just a second, and that's all it really takes to kill the run, and I had to back out of it last year. But this year, I was able to go down in there. My spotter was telling me he was outside, so I had to kind of -- I really had to force the car to stay down there, and, I just wasn't able to get as good of a run coming through that short chute and down out 2, coming out of 2, so Thiago was able to get by down the back straight.
Q: When Thiago came around you on 12, just his car faster or something happened to yours?
Luyendyk: I just picked up a huge, huge push and had to totally get out of the gas in Turn 3. There were a lot, a lot of laps out there where I was not able to run flat out.
Q: Jeff, I just wanted to ask you quickly, about the thrill of working with A.J. Foyt over the last week, and the fun of getting out on the track knowing that he's talking in your ear today?
Simmons: Well, he's just talking -- he'll probably give me an ass-kicking when I get back. It's been great. I've learned a lot of things from here, and it's different working with A.J. than it is with anybody else I've ever worked with. I wanted to win this race as much for him as I did for myself, I think, and it's a little disappointing that we could not get it done, but second place isn't bad. It's, you know, just wish we could have done just that little bit better.
Q: How is it different working with A.J.?
Simmons: Well, I mean, A.J., tends to make more of the decisions, and they are more solo decisions, and there's nothing wrong with that. He has the experience, and he probably does know best in just about every instance. I can't say that I would have done anything different with the car or anything than he did. You know, he gave -- he gave me a great car, just the conditions today, it just wasn't quite right for us. It was a little bit like yesterday. Yesterday's first session, we could not go around the track flat either, and in qualifying we had a really good car. We almost -- almost took pole, and just so happens that again today we picked up that understeer. And it's a little unfortunate, the warm-up was yesterday and we don't have warm-ups on Race Day.
Q: A lot was made last year of Ed running away and nobody seeing him, before the last yellow both you guys probably had to feel like anything could still happen, you're still three or four seconds before. I guess it was down to less than that, but still a race; Thiago didn't run away and hide.
Simmons: I guess he didn't run away and hide, but I really think there was just about no chance that I was going to be able to get by even if I was able to catch back up to him, because even running alone, I couldn't run flat around the track every time. If I got close to him, I was going to have to completely lift off either in 1 or in 3, and it was just going to kill any sort of run we had.
Luyendyk: I think for Jeff and for me that last restart, we saw it as an opportunity, and the bad thing was that we had Gary Peterson in the mix there. And I think he did a good job of getting out of the way, it just was, you know, another car we had to get around before we could get to the leader. That's what really made my restart not very good, because I kind of missed a gear getting around Gary, and then Jeff got by and he got by a little easier than I did, because I picked up a big push in Turn 4 on the restart. I think if he would not have been there, I think maybe we could have gotten a run, because I know Thiago's car was not that good behind other's cars because we were complaining about that yesterday in practice. That last restart was an opportunity, and it didn't pan out.