Indy Pro Series: Miami 100
Topics: Indy Racing League
March 26, 2006
THE MODERATOR: We have second and third place finishers in today's Indy Pro Series race at Homestead Miami, Nick Bussell with Cheever Racing (ph) and Jay Howard with Sam Schmidt Motorsports. Take us through the last couple of laps. It was hold your breath for the final two.
NICK BUSSELL: Yeah, we needed to get my car out in clean air and I was actually able to get around Jay on the restart. We got out there and I was able to get to the bottom pretty easily, and I thought maybe that would be enough and I knew I needed to make Jeff or whoever is behind me work for it. Jeff, he's got the experience and that's the second time he's done that to me. Maybe we'll get him next time. But the bottom line is, I needed to be in somewhat of a clean air situation because of the grip out there, it was getting pretty greasy, and I didn't want to have to try to race somebody the last lap.
But they saved their car and they had a good run and, I'm proud of my guys for finishing second in the first race with Cheever Racing (ph), and everybody did quite well for just working with each other the first time after two days, pretty happy.
Q. Jay, sitting back there at third, ever thought of taking a shot at him, or when they got side-by-side you were out of luck?
JAY HOWARD: Yeah, what can I say. Well, from the start, I completely forgot to clean the engine up as the guys told me. That was my responsibility for a bad first start. And then we got going and I got back into the race, got back into the lead and working with Jonathan which is real good. We were comfortable, you know. No problems, car was good. Everything was looking real good and then Jonathan and I think it was Chris came together, and obviously we had the yellow.
You know, this time we definitely made sure to clean the engine out three or four times prior. I don't know, just tried shifting back down and shifting back up again, and no matter what I did, it wouldn't go. Eventually it finally picks up and there was another five or six laps and wasn't able to get back into the race. When I was that far back, I knew it was over.
Q. Both of you, if you could talk about in the past at Homestead, we've had Pro Series racing, Thiago Medeiros won by a lap over everyone, this was competitive all day, just talk about the racetrack and the close-knit racing that the Pro Series is creating?
NICK BUSSELL: This is definitely statistically the best race that they have had. When Thiago won by a lot, there was some issues that weekend that allowed for that to happen. Last weekend, also, the field got spread out. I was in that race and a little bit of the pack in midfield. But I think for the front forerunners to run together that long and did pretty much a good job until the end, I think it was the closest we've had in the Pro Series here.
Q. Your thoughts on the tight oval racing that a place like that can provide?
JAY HOWARD: Yeah, I enjoyed everything until right near the end. (Laughing). Yeah, good, close racing and hopefully we can go to St. Petersburg and hopefully I can qualify and actually take the win this time.
THE MODERATOR: We're joined by the winner of today's Pro Series, race Jeff Simmons of Kenn Hardley Racing. Margin of victory was 0.0199, the second closest finish in Indy Pro Series history. The closest was in Chicago in September of '03, that finish .0170. Take us through the last two laps, another great Pro Series race.
JEFF SIMMONS: Yeah, we really struggled earlier on in the race and the car came good about halfway through, we were still on edge and the track change got us a little bit overnight, and I heard Tony Kanaan mention that as well after he did the warmup this morning. Those last few laps, I tried to get up a couple laps early when I got a good run and didn't seem like it was going to happen outright. So I just tried to drop back, get a gap from the guys behind us and tried to push him a little bit and tried to set it up to time the start and finish line. I wonder if he knew right then that I had him on next one because I think I beat him along that lap before. It just worked out great. I'm so happy, we had a lot of new guys on Kenn Hardley Racing this year, and this is a great way to welcome them to the team.
Q. Did you think going down the back stretch that you would make it stick coming out of the 4 again?
JEFF SIMMONS: Well, you don't know for sure, but I had dropped back a little bit and just got myself another good run. So I was pretty confident that we might be able to beat them to the line.
Q. I asked Jay and Nick this as well, the Pro Series in the past has had some blow-outs here at Homestead; Thiago won a couple years ago by a full lap; today the top four cars are pretty competitive. Can you talk about the Pro Series and how competitive it's gotten here at Homestead?
JEFF SIMMONS: Just in qualifying you could see how close everybody was. I think if I picked up half a tenth of a second, I would have qualified third instead of seventh. But, you know, there was a little bit of a breakaway today, and I think I wasn't the only guy who was struggling with his car. You know, I think we were just low on downforce. We were sliding around a lot.
But the Firestone tires were great. I mean, I abused them all day long and was sliding in and around the corners, even got sideways when I made that past on Howard going down into turn 1 on the restart, we got sideways, so they held on great. From my perspective, they were better at the end than when we they started. The competition is going to be tough all year long and it's good to get off to a good start like this.
Q. Going into the last lap -- inaudible?
JEFF SIMMONS: Yeah, I timed the lap before and beat him to the line I guess, I wasn't sure, but told me I did beat him on the lap before, so I knew I could do it again. I made a little bit later of a move, but it was just a matter of when it had a to happen. I had to get the run. The run seems to stall, out but if you can get a big enough run, then, you know, you can get ahead and we were able to do it. You know, it's one of those dramatic wins, and those are the most fun I think. Very fun race to watch.
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