An interview with Jeff Simmons Indy Racing League Teleconference Transcript THE MODERATOR: Good afternoon, everyone. Thank you for joining us for today's Indy Racing League teleconference. We have two drivers joining us today. Starting the call...
An interview with Jeff Simmons
Indy Racing League Teleconference Transcript
THE MODERATOR: Good afternoon, everyone. Thank you for joining us for today's Indy Racing League teleconference. We have two drivers joining us today. Starting the call with us is Firestone Indy Lights driver Jeff Simmons. In a few minutes, we'll be joined by IndyCar Series driver Oriol Servia. We also have a special guest today, Watkins Glen International president Craig Rust to talk about the IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights races this weekend at The Glen.
Jeff Simmons is on the line with us. Good afternoon. Thanks for joining us.
JEFF SIMMONS: My pleasure.
THE MODERATOR: Jeff ranks seventh in the Firestone Indy Lights standings and has recorded five top-10 finishes in six starts this year. He's won seven times during his Firestone Indy Lights career, including at The Glen in 2005.
Jeff, you've turned a lot of laps at Watkins Glen throughout your career. You know how to win at this track in a Firestone Indy Lights car. What will it take for you to give Team Moore Racing its first victory this year?
JEFF SIMMONS: It's going to take the whole team effort, but Mark Moore and Tom Wood have done a really good job of putting together a first-class group of people. You know, we didn't do a whole lot of laps during the testing when we were there recently.
As you said, I've been there many times. I love Watkins Glen. I love the whole area. It brings a big smile to my face every time I drive into the front gate there. It's going to be difficult. There's some strong competition for sure. It's also going to be quite a day when we have the doubleheader there on Saturday because we don't have a whole lot of time in between races. It's really going to be physically and mentally taxing because we're not going to have much time to recover after the first race, so you got to make sure you get through that pretty clean and hope your fitness is good enough to do a 200-mile race instead of just 100 miles as we usually do.
THE MODERATOR: You've dovetailed right into my next question. Give us your thoughts about that doubleheader format as far as how does that play into strategy. You mentioned fitness, the time crunch. Do you play your strategy any different at a doubleheader as opposed to a weekend where there's just one race?
JEFF SIMMONS: For the most part I don't think so. But you are going to have to be very careful in that first race, because if you have any sort of damage to your car it's going to be difficult to fix that and get back out there for the second one.
We've done the doubleheaders before, but usually it's kind of one race on Saturday, one on Sunday, or a lot more time in between. It's going to be very important to take care of your car in the first race.
THE MODERATOR: As you said, you've had a lot of experience at the Glen, all the various layouts. We're running the Grand Prix layout, the long course with the Boot. Describe the unique characteristics of that track. And when you're setting up a race car for the Glen, what are the most important characteristics you need to prepare the car for?
JEFF SIMMONS: Well, Watkins Glen, I think it's one of the best road courses in the country, one of the best tracks in the country. It's one of the fastest road courses that you would go to, too. There's a lot of fast, sweeping corners. You need to really set up for high speed.
But normally if you're going to be in those fast corners you're thinking, I want a little downforce to help me through those. But can't go too high in the downforce because you have the long back straightaway up through the Esses. So you need to be fast there.
Most of the corners are right-handers. There's only probably, what, three left-handers there. Sometimes that plays into the way people set up their cars. Sometimes they'll try to set up their car to be strong in right-hand corners.
Usually we try to get a really good balance on the car and try to run the least amount of downforce we can to be comfortable and have a consistent race car.
THE MODERATOR: You've run at The Glen in a Firestone Indy Lights car. How much does your experience at that great racetrack in other cars help you? Does it play into a factor at all other than circuit knowledge?
JEFF SIMMONS: I don't think so. I mean, I think it's just, as you said, the circuit knowledge, knowing what cars need around there, what you need to be successful. I think my experience also in the IndyCars there, I ran the last couple years there in the IndyCar there, and we look for the same things, though.
You're just looking to get a good balance on the car and have the speed that you need down the straights. I think that with my experience of running so many different cars there, I know that you got to have a car for the end.
Twenty-nine laps around there in an Indy Lights car is a pretty long race, so we're looking for a consistent race car.
THE MODERATOR: How long did it take you when you tested there earlier this year in the Firestone Indy Lights car to rewire your brain and your right and left feet for an Indy Lights car as opposed to an IndyCar Series car?
JEFF SIMMONS: It didn't take long at all. We didn't get a whole lot of laps there. We didn't really get on track until after 11:00, even though the test actually started at 8:30 in the morning.
After the first few laps, with the experience that I have there, I think we were right up to speed, running consistently, just starting to work on the car.
THE MODERATOR: We'll take questions for Jeff.
Q: Some of the New Zealanders, there's an influx of new racers. You have Scott Dixon in the IndyCar Series. What do you think accounts for the fact that they are finding Indy Lights and IndyCar an attractive destination from that little country?
JEFF SIMMONS: I think the series as a whole, the strength of it, especially the momentum that it's had in the last couple years, is attractive from people all over the world. We don't only have people from New Zealand, we have people from all over the place.
I think it's competition and strong teams and all of that that make it attractive to people. I think it's great.
I mean, I hope we can get more. I think obviously with Scott Dixon's success you've got all eyes in New Zealand looking over to the Indy Racing League.
Q: Is there something to learn from the number of those people coming here for say a small state like Connecticut that wants to get on the map as a hotbed for racers?
JEFF SIMMONS: Well, I hope I can help in that respect. I'm not sure how much the state itself is really focused on racing, but there are a lot of people that are interested in it up there. Watkins Glen is the closest race we have to Connecticut, so I'm hoping we'll have some home-state fans, New England and Northeast region fans, following me and rooting for me.
Q: What do you make of all the scuttlebutt in the press about Danica Patrick and Scott Dixon back and forth? Is that just racers being racers?
JEFF SIMMONS: Yeah, I guess so. I mean, everybody kind of -- they love to defend their position on the track, but certainly don't like it when they feel they have the faster car or are in a better position and can't get by and other people are defending against them.
I think it's just talk. They're both good racers. It's not just them. There's all kinds of people that talk back and forth.
Obviously with Scott and Danica being successful, I think that makes it into the media and the public eye more often.
THE MODERATOR: Jeff, it looks like that's all the questions we have for you today. We appreciate you calling in, and we wish you the best of luck this weekend at The Glen.
JEFF SIMMONS: Thank you very much. Appreciate it.