IPS: Jeff Simmons on upswing

Jeff Simmons has made a career of change. He's been in and out of the racing business often enough that he's still mistaken for older brother Chris, who once drove and engineered with Team Green. Chris now engineers for Team Target, firmly out...

Jeff Simmons has made a career of change.

He's been in and out of the racing business often enough that he's still mistaken for older brother Chris, who once drove and engineered with Team Green. Chris now engineers for Team Target, firmly out of the driving end of the game.

The younger Simmons made his mark in the Barber Dodge Pro Series, where he won the championship two years in a row, 1998-9. That type of excellence led to a 2000 season in Dayton Indy Lights with Team Green, where Jeff scored three podiums.

After 2000, though, Jeff Simmons flat-out disappeared, not to be seen again until 2003, when he resurfaced in the Menards Infiniti Pro Series and was runner-up to champion Mark Taylor.

During that break out 2003 season, Simmons scored two short-track victories at Gateway and Kentucky, leading all comers with a consistent 774 laps completed.

Much was expected of him in 2004, but Jeff only had five Pro Series contests on his schedule. Simmons did finish second in the Futaba Freedom 100 driving for A.J. Foyt Racing, but would only repeat in that position at Chicagoland in September.

The final four races Simmons ran with Kenn Hardley Racing, which broke into the Menards Infiniti Pro Series with Paul Dana at the helm.

The partnership with Team ISI continues this year.

The 2005 rewards haven't been consistent, but they've been recent, as Simmons placed second on the Nashville concrete and won the most recent contest on The Milwaukee Mile.

Simmons did fall out of two early races and scored a season-worst 13th on the Indianapolis Grand Prix course; all other finishes are in the top 10. He currently lies eighth in points, just 16 away from fifth.

"Finally we're moving to the front and I'm cautiously optimistic" about this weekend's Bluegrass 100 at the 1.5-mile Kentucky Speedway oval. "We have struggled on some of the larger tracks but wins sure help morale.

"Certainly," Simmons insists, "We're getting some momentum going our way. We get this one and we can start closing on the championship."

It's nice to try backing up a solid victory on a track where you've won before and Simmons wants it again. "I led all the laps at Kentucky that time."

The Pro Series cars can look for some "pretty tight racing in the pack on the bumpy bowl. "If you can hang onto the lead pack you're in good position at the end." It almost sounds like a mantra. "These small tracks are the best for us."

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Series Indy Lights
Drivers Mark Taylor , Jeff Simmons , Paul Dana , A.J. Foyt