ELKHART LAKE, Wisc. (July 10) - This time, Jeff Simmons got the point. Literally. Simmons shaved less than one-tenth of a second off his provisional qualifying time, but it was enough to give the 22-year-old East Granby, Conn. native his...
ELKHART LAKE, Wisc. (July 10) - This time, Jeff Simmons got the point.
Simmons shaved less than one-tenth of a second off his provisional qualifying time, but it was enough to give the 22-year-old East Granby, Conn. native his first pole position of the season for the Barber Dodge race at the Texaco/Havoline 200 at Road America Saturday morning. Simmons (2:15.127/106.566 mph) had started second twice in the first five races, but the top spot had proved elusive.
Simmons won the 1998 Barber Dodge title by the combined margin of his three pole bonus points, so he readily acknowledged the importance of the one-point bonus in the race for his second championship. Enhancing Saturday's top starting honors was the fact that he got it at the expense of defending Road America pole and race winner Nilton Rossoni, with whom Simmons entered the round tied for the series points lead.
"It's a little like (last year) right now. We came in here tied for the points lead and now we'll hold it for at least a day, so it's nice to have it back again," Simmons said. "I'm just looking for a strong race tomorrow; to get away clean and not have to do so much dicing. With all the drafting on this track, I think it's going to be a tight race."
As predicted by the majority of the drivers, the early morning session proved to be significantly faster than the provisional session Friday afternoon, with 15 drivers improving their times. The biggest leap was made by Rio Big Scholarship winner Michael Valiante of Vancouver, B.C., who jumped from 12th to second on the starting grid with his time of 2:15.593 averaging 106.200 mph.
"My year started off well, I had problems in the second and third races, but I felt things were starting to go the way I'd like it to in Portland. Unfortunately I was taken out of that race and had to miss Cleveland, so hopefully my season is back on track with this second qualifying position," Valiante said. The Rookie of the Year candidate had been sidelined in Round 5 by the lingering effects of a concussion suffered in a first-turn crash in Portland.
Iradj Alexander (2:15.648/106.157 mph) of Giubiasco, Switzerland captured the inside of the second row on his first visit to Road America, and was impressed with the picturesque 14-turn, four-mile wooded circuit.
"It's more like a European track, with the combination of the asphalt and the curbs. They told me before I came here that it was really fast, but it's really fast because you have a lot of straight lines," Alexander said. "But you also have a lot of slow corners. It's a really technical race track, but I like it."
Todd Snyder (2:15.678/106.134 mph) of Sheffield, Mass. earned the fourth spot on the starting grid, followed by two-time race winner Rocky Moran Jr. (2:15.841/106.006 mph). Moran solved some handling problems in the car to move up ten spots from the Friday session and is looking to avenge his first DNF of the season at Cleveland.
Jamie Menninga of Pella, Iowa (2:15.864/105.988 mph) was one of two drivers in the top 10 who did not improve on their provisional time, although it caused him to slip from second to sixth on the grid. Rossoni was unable to follow up his track record set in 1998 and will start seventh. Townsend Bell, Sepp Koster and Memo Rojas Jr. completed the top 10 which were spaced by a scant 1.3 second margin.
Three Wisconsin natives will make the start on their home track. Kip Gulseth of Manitowac qualified 21st, while Dale Vandenbush of Green Bay and Scott Mayer of Franklin earned the 23rd and 24th spots, respectively.
The Barber Dodge Pro Series race, a 40-minute timed sprint, will run at 3:30 p.m. Sunday.
NOTES: Barber Pro Series alumnus Juan Montoya, who has already registered four victories in his rookie year in the CART FedEx Championship Series, received the second quarter award for Driver of the Year in a ceremony Saturday morning. A total of 15 leading motorsports journalists and broadcasters voted on the honor.
#ELKHART LAKE, Wisc. (July 10) - Combined Barber Dodge Pro Series qualifying results from Road America on the 4.048-mile, 14-turn road circuit for Sunday's 40-minute race at the CART Texaco/Havoline 200
1 (1) Jeff Simmons/East Granby, Conn. 2:15.127/106.566
2 (95) Michael Valiante/Vancouver,Canada 2:15.593/106.200
3 (31) Iradj Alexander/Giubiasco,Switzerland 2:15.648/106.157
4 (11) Todd Snyder/Sheffield, Mass. 2:15.678/106.134
5 (71) Rocky Moran, Jr./Coto de Caza, Calif. 2:15.841/106.006
6 (2) Jamie Menninga/Pella, Iowa 2:15.864/105.988
7 (36) Nilton Rossoni/Curitiba, Brazil 2:15.968/105.907
8 (25) Townsend Bell/Costa Mesa, Calif. 2:16.104/105.801
9 (7) Sepp Koster/The Netherlands 2:16.302/105.648
10 (15) Memo Rojas, Jr./Mexico City, Mexico 2:16.411/105.563
11 (9) Rodrigo Bernardes/Sao Paulo, Brazil 2:16.425/105.553
12 (6) Peter Boss/Narragansett, R.I. 2:16.508/105.488
13 (85) Brian Pelke/Lansing, Ill. 2:16.607/105.412
14 (17) Matt Plumb/Unionville, Pa. 2:16.612/105.408
15 (52) Jon Fogarty/Portola Valley, Calif. 2:16.625/105.398
16 (8) Roger Yasukawa/Santa Monica, Calif. 2:17.114/105.022
17 (14) Juan Jose Font/Caracas,Venezuela 2:17.118/105.019
18 (55) John McCaig/Victoria, B.C., Canada 2:17.556/104.685
19 (16) Alexandre Sperafico/ToledoParana, Brazil 2:17.861/104.453
20 (13) R. B. Stiewing/Lime Rock, Conn. 2:17.969/104.371
21 (3) Kip Gulseth/Manitowac, Wisc. 2:19.018/103.584
22 (4) Brent Sherman/ Northbrook, Ill. 2:19.103/103.520
23 (44) Dale Vandenbush/Green Bay, Wisc. 2:20.635/102.393
24 (77) Scott Mayer/Franklin, Wis. 2:21.714/101.613