Simmons Survives Portland Crash Fest for Barber Dodge Victory PORTLAND, Oregon (June 19) - It wasn't a pretty win by any stretch of imagination, but Jeff Simmons was more than glad to take it. Simmons, the defending Barber Dodge Pro Series ...
Simmons Survives Portland Crash Fest for Barber Dodge Victory
PORTLAND, Oregon (June 19) - It wasn't a pretty win by any stretch of imagination, but Jeff Simmons was more than glad to take it.
Simmons, the defending Barber Dodge Pro Series champion, survived an opening-lap, first-turn melee that involved most of the top qualifiers and led the final 25 laps to post his first victory of the season on the 1.967-mile, 12-turn Portland International Raceway road course at the Budweiser/G.I. Joe's 200 Saturday afternoon.
Brazilians Nilton Rossoni and Vanderlan Junior finished second and third, respectively in a race marred by the extended red-flag period to remove cars and debris from the infamous Festival chicane at the end of the track's opening straight. The first start was waved off by officials and the field thundered past the start/finish line for a second try when the trouble started.
The cars of second-place starter Michael Valiante of Vancouver, B.C. and fourth-place starter Todd Snyder of Sheffield, Mass. were both knocked out of the race in the incident, as was 18th-place qualifier Juan Jose Font of Venezuela. Several other cars were damaged or displaced by the massive pile-up, including pole sitter Townsend Bell of Costa Mesa, Calif. and points leader Rocky Moran Jr. of Coto de Caza, Calif. The section includes a right-handed chicane which required braking the cars from 140 to 40 mph.
"I tried to get a little bit of a jump. I thought that my car was going to be good and I wanted to not lose touch with Townsend if he managed to hold the lead because I knew he was real quick," Simmons, the fifth-place starter, said. "If you let somebody get away, there just isn't enough time in the race to catch up. I tried to get a jump on it and everybody else was trying to do the same thing and it just looked like some people missed the braking point. I just waited on it and came through clean."
Font, who qualified 17th, appeared to dive down on the infield side of the track, first made contact with the rear of Bell's car and sent him into the gravel on the outside of the turn. As Font slid, he subsequently pushed Valiante into Snyder and buried all three cars in the gravel trap on the inside of the turn. The resulting dust cloud and confusion caused the remainder of the field to accordion into the turn while trying to take evasive action.
Vanderlan emerged in second-place and gave chase to Simmons while the field ran under two caution laps before the race was red-flagged to extricate Valiante from his mangled Reynard Dodge. The 19-year old Canadian was subsequently treated and released from a local hospital for contusions. Rossoni, who started behind Font in the 19th slot, had a prime vantage point for the accident.
"I went to the outside and everybody started braking really early and I was able to keep going. I was looking at the braking points and so I knew I had to brake for the turn," Rossoni said. "I think most of the guys were on the inside and could not have the same view. I drove down and I saw Font crash out a lot of guys, so I followed Sepp Koster (straight down the escape road) and I stopped my car and waited until I saw Rodrigo Bernardes, who was side-by-side with me at the start, then I went. I was hoping for another yellow at the end of the race so that I could challenge Simmons."
Rossoni emerged from the scrambled field in ninth place and set about picking off the remainder one-by-one until the end of the race, a run that included an outside pass of Vanderlan on the outside in the final turn. En route, he recorded the fastest lap of the race at 1:14.911 at 94.624 mph on lap 25.
Bell recovered from his off-track excursion to place fourth and maintained his second-place standing in the series points, ahead of Simmons on a tie-breaker with 47 apiece. Koster ended up fifth, while Jon Fogarty of Portola Valley, Calif. brought home a sixth-place finish after running as high as third. Matt Plumb of Unionville, Pa., Rodrigo Bernardes of Sao Paulo, Brazil, John McCaig of Victoria, B.C. and Tim Bergmeister of Bergheim, Germany rounded out the top 10 finishers.
Moran finished 12th and extended his series-leading points total to 59. Saturday's race was the first in which Moran did not lead.
The Barber Dodge Pro Series travels to Cleveland for Round 5 of the 12-race schedule June 27 with the CART FedEx Championship Series.
NOTES: Former Barber Pro Series star Juan Montoya set a new track record in winning his third pole position for Sunday's CART FedEx Championship Series race. Montoya attended victory lane ceremonies after the Barber Dodge race. Former Pro Series champion Bryan Herta qualified fourth, while rookie Memo Gidley will also make his CART debut. Gidley raced Barber Dodge in 1996.
Results Saturday from the 40-minute timed Barber Dodge Pro Series race at the Budweiser/G.I. Joe's 200 on the 1.967-mile Portland International Raceway road circuit with finishing position, starting position, driver, hometown or country, laps, reason out (if any), and prize money. All cars are identical Reynard Dodge V6, open-wheel, single-seat race cars on Michelin racing tires.
1 (5) Jeff Simmons/East Granby, Conn., 94.202 mph, 26 laps, $12000
2 (19) Nilton Rossoni/Curitiba, Brazil, 26, $8500
3 (8) Vanderlan Junior/Goiania, Brazil, 26, $6000
4 (1) Townsend Bell/Costa Mesa, Calif., 26, $4000
5 (3) Sepp Koster/The Netherlands, 26, $2500
6 (6) Jon Fogarty/Portola Valley, Calif., 26, $2000
7 (18) Matt Plumb/Unionville, Pa., 26, $1800
8 (9) Rodrigo Bernardes/Sao Paolo, Brazil, 26, $1700
9 (10) John McCaig/Victoria, B.C., 26, $1600
10 (15) Tim Bergmeister/Bergheim,Germany, 26, $1500
11 (13) Roger Yasukawa/Santa Monica, Calif., 26, $1400
12 (7) Rocky Moran, Jr./Coto de Caza, Calif., 26, $1300
13 (8) Jamie Menninga/Pella, Iowa, 26, $1200
14 (10) Memo Rojas, Jr./Mexico City, Mexico, 26, $1100
15 (21) Peter Boss/Narragansett, R.I., 26, $1000
16 (19) R. B. Stiewing/Lime Rock, Conn., 26, $500
17 (23) Brent Sherman/Northbrook, Ill., 26, $500
18 (16) Alexandre Sperafico/Toledo Parana, Brazil, 26, $500
19 (22) Scott Mayer/Franklin, Wisc., 25, $500
20 (20) Iradj Alexander/Giubiasco,Switzerland, 19, $500, contact
21 (12) Brian Pelke/Lansing, Ill., 18, $500, contact
22 (2) Michael Valiante/Vancouver,Canada, 1, $500, contact
23 (5) Todd Snyder/Sheffield, Mass., 1, $500, contact
24 (18) Juan Jose Font/Caracas,Venezuela, 1, Contact, $500
LENGTH OF RACE: 26 Laps of 1.969 Mile Circuit for 51.194 miles TIME OF RACE: 36 Minutes, 31.883 seconds AVERAGE SPEED: 84.082 NEW RECORD MARGIN OF VICTORY: 0 Minutes 4.565 Seconds LAP LEADERS: Townsend Bell - Lap 1, Jeff Simmons - Lap 2 through 26 FASTEST RACE LAP: Nilton Rossoni, 1:14.911(94.624 mph), Lap 25, NEW RECORD FASTEST QUALIFIER: Townsend Bell 1:14.093(95.669 mph)NEW RECORD PROGRESSIVE CUSTOM WHEELS MOST PROGRESSIVE DRIVER: Nilton Rossoni, From 19th to 2nd TOTAL PAYOUT: $52,100
Points: 1) Moran, 59 2) Bell, 47 3) Simmons, 47 4) Rossoni, 41 5) Koster, 41 6) Boss, 35 7) Rojas, 33 8) Vanderlan Junior, 23 9) Valiante, 23 10) Plumb, 23