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Infiniti Pro Series: Pikes Peak 100

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Open Wheel Racing Topics:  Pikes Peak 100

Infiniti Pro Series: Pikes Peak 100

Nick Bussell
Travis Gregg
Jeff Simmons
August 21, 2005


FOUNTAIN, COLORADO

THE MODERATOR: I just want to congratulate you guys. Great run out there today. Travis Gregg, winner at Homestead, Texas, Kentucky this season, has won six poles in his Infiniti Pro Series career, second in points. Obviously, a good run for you today. Just talk a bit about it.

TRAVIS GREGG: Tried to get a good start, but towards the beginning of the race I picked up kind of a pretty big push. So I tried to use my sway bar adjuster and weight jacker. Simmons was able to get around me. Able to run with him for a little bit, and he started to pull away. Midway through the race, couldn't really get by lap traffic very well. The car just wasn't handling good in traffic. Just trying to hold on. Able to get a top-three finish.

THE MODERATOR: Nick, great run for you. You started back in ninth place today. Previous best finish this season was third at St. Pete and Milwaukee. Seemed like the car just kept getting better and better as the run went along.

NICK BUSSELL: Yeah, it was getting a little bit better as we went, but it was pretty good from the beginning. Had to find a rhythm. I had to work through some of the slower guys towards the back. Actually, I took me a little while to get around a couple of the guys, a lot longer than I thought. Here I am sitting a half track behind everybody and wasn't quite sure what was going to happen. We weren't real happy with how we ran as of yesterday. Our qualifying, we didn't really qualify, we just went out and took the green. I wasn't quite sure what the car was going to do. Some of it was me. Went out this morning and I fixed some of the things to my driving. The car was better. Found some things with that. Wasn't quite sure what the race was going to bring. Especially starting ninth, I wasn't sure what was going to happen with the dirty air. Actually, it worked out where the guys were spread out a little bit, their tires were starting to go in, that's the easiest time to pass them, is when you have a good car like that. I kept getting good runs off of turn two, that's where I passed everybody. It was a lot better than I expected as of last night. Last night I couldn't sleep. Having my best finish here from where we were, I'm pretty fired up about that.

THE MODERATOR: Any hopes it would have been the Pikes Peak 125?

NICK BUSSELL: I was catching Jeff there. Jeff is a smart race car driver. Knew what they needed to do. I don't think that I could have caught and passed him. If I started closing in real close, Jeff would have stepped it up. With the tires, you know, using every bit of them out there, I wouldn't have got around him. There's a chance of that, but they were managing their tires. I just don't think I could have done that.

THE MODERATOR: Questions.

Q. Travis, you finished a little bit better than Wade Cunningham, who is currently leading the points. Could you talk about the prospects for the rest of the season, what you think the points race is going to shape up to be.

TRAVIS GREGG: I think it's going to be pretty close. With two road course races coming up, that favors Wade. But we've been doing some testing, so hopefully we can improve our finishes there. We also have, you know, two big speedways, Chicago and Fontana. Last year, you know, Thiago won that with Sam Schmidt Motorsports. I feel confident we can do well there and also at Fontana. Hard to say now. I think it's going to be close. I think we're going to have to really step it up on the road course races to really have a shot.

THE MODERATOR: And our winner, Mr. Simmons, congratulations.

JEFF SIMMONS: Thank you.

THE MODERATOR: First place today. Won in Milwaukee in July. Also won at Gateway in 2003. Second-place finish here in back in 2003. Good weekend for you. You were a little off when you came to qualifying. You were fast in both practices yesterday. Did it look as easy to you as it did to us?

JEFF SIMMONS: The car was really good. I mean, it was very consistent the whole hundred laps. Probably one of the best cars I've ever had over a race distance. The first corner was pretty hairy because Wade was on the outside, Travis was on the inside. I had to back out of it or we were all going to get taken out. That was a lesson learned from when I ran the IndyCar car at Kansas. Three-wide into the corner is usually not enough room. Fortunately we got through that. From there on out, I tried to run consistent laps and take care of the tires. I think we had a little more to give there. Actually, I was just trying to run a steady pace that was going to keep us out front.

Q. Jeff, obviously you already won at Milwaukee. Previously you won at Gateway. You seem to do real well on these short one-mile tracks. Talk about what, if anything, lends itself to your driving style?

JEFF SIMMONS: It's really important to get a good setup. Like you said, we seem to do well on the tracks where sometimes you have to hustle the car a little bit, where you're not going to be flat out all the time. We always seem to do well there. A lot of credit obviously goes to Dave Conte, my engineer. He got us an awesome setup for this weekend. He wasn't there for Milwaukee, but he was a big part of the starting setup we had there, as well, which was quick right off the bat. We didn't get the pole this weekend, which we would have liked to have had. It's always disappointing to be the quickest in every session except for qualifying. But, you know, I was on pole last two years and didn't win. We'd give that up for the win, do that every time.

Q. You talked about your IndyCar ride in Kansas. Again, looking at the starts, you guys were going three-wide in turn one with Wade on the outside. You were on the inside in Kansas, too, I believe when that incident happened. Tell us from a race driver's perspective, what are you thinking when you're going into turn one on a start like that?

JEFF SIMMONS: Yeah, I mean, it's almost like a mirror image of Kansas with, you know, myself in the middle. The other guys don't really know necessarily about where the third car is. They don't even necessarily know that he's there, so they won't usually leave room. Obviously, I can't go up or down. I'm the guy that is going to be in the biggest trouble. I stayed in there about as long as I could. Then when I saw that nobody was giving it up, I had to back out of it.

Q. Nick, you found something. After qualifying yesterday you were very dejected. What did they do to the car?

NICK BUSSELL: We found a few things. The front shock was actually bad on the front of it. It was actually the worst possible scenario you can have for going over the bumps. I wasn't very confident in the car yesterday. I wasn't going to risk the car in qualifying. Made some changes last night. Looked at some data. Talked to my teammates. Tried to get things sorted out this morning. Just stayed out. Ran 35 laps this morning and got to where we were pretty comfortable. We made a few more changes for the race. We were pretty confident the pace was going to be somewhere in the mid 24s. Actually, it was a little bit higher than that. I don't think we had anything for Jeff.

Q. Jeff, you've always found that you've run well here. What is it about PPIR that suits your driving style?

JEFF SIMMONS: I don't know. Like I said, I mean, it's just one of those tracks that we always -- you know, I've always been quick on the shorter tracks and the tracks where, you know, you sometimes have to hustle the car. You don't know right off the bat whether you're going to be going flat out or not. You can change your line sometimes to make your car feel better. I mean, I don't know what it is specifically. But, you know, I think this is, you know, one of the tougher tracks we go to. Certainly like a Milwaukee and Gateway I think are all, you know, the tougher tracks that we go to. I always seem to do pretty well at those.

Q. Must have made Jeff mad yesterday when you took the qualifying record away from him. Your car was good all weekend. Started out good. All of a sudden you started going back. What happened? Something go away in particular?

TRAVIS GREGG: Well, we were able to keep up with Jeff a little bit, then he started to pull away. I believe he got around some lapped cars. I was just having a hard time getting around traffic. When I was behind a car, my car really wasn't handling very well. I'd try to go high. Then the cars would come up, kind of take a lot of the front grip out. I'd try to go low, it would get loose. We were struggling trying to get around lap lapped cars. Midway, lost a little bit of rear grip. You know, we weren't able to run the fast times we were running at the start of the race.

Q. Nick, this is your best finish of the season, second place. Obviously since you made the switch to Vision Racing, you podiumed twice. Talk about what that transition has been like to the new team. Do you feel they've increased your capabilities to be up there and contend?

NICK BUSSELL: Yeah, I think it was really important here and Milwaukee. I consider those my two best races of the year. We finished third at St. Petersburg, but that's more my forte, road racing. The oval thing I'm learning. The short oval thing is tough, like Jeff said. I really struggled at Phoenix really bad, as most people know. I went to Milwaukee with not a lot of confidence. My team tested there and we ran really strong. I think I could have possibly been there second, as well. The last restart cost us a lot. Coming here, like I said, I was really struggling. Without the teammates, without the information, without the references to each other, I wouldn't be sitting here, there's no way, because we took Jay's shocks and referenced the shocks. We went through and looked at the data. We basically ran identical setups. I'm not quite sure why he had as much problems in that race as I did because basically all except for one thing, we were exactly the same car. Without the teammate thing, I think I'd still be sitting in the back right now if I was a single-car team. That's been really important. I've been getting along really good with my engineer, Larry. He's teaching me a lot. I'm looking forward to the rest of the year.

THE MODERATOR: Congratulations.



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