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Infiniti Pro Series: Chicagoland 100

Open Wheel Racing Topics:  Chicagoland 100

Infiniti Pro Series: Chicagoland 100

Nick Bussell
Marty Roth
Jeff Simmons
September 11, 2005


THE MODERATOR: We're joined by our second and third place finishers in today's race. Second place finisher, Marty Roth. This is a career best finish for Marty. His previous best finish was fourth at Chicagoland in 2002. For Nick Bussell, a third place finish. Previous best finish -- he finished second at Pikes Peak last month, last August. He has eight previous top five finishes. Marty, tell us about your run.

MARTY ROTH: Well, no, it was a great race. It's great to be back at Chicago, Chicagoland. As you just said, my last career best finish was here. We just put a new one on the record. It was a great race. It was tight. It was the first time I ever looked down the track and didn't see a car in front of me. It was a really good feeling. Unfortunately, I couldn't hold it for that last lap. And Jeff, he timed it beautifully. He took that run, it was on the white flag there. That's the one that counted. He got me, took the checkered. But we're really happy with a second place finish. We made some changes after Infineon. We brought on Mark Wada (phonetic). It's just great. You know, he did a fantastic job of putting a car that could run at the front. All the guys just did a fabulous job of putting together a really good car. I've got to thank everybody on my team. Pancho Carter, he was up there yelling in my ear the whole way. He's my spotter. It was great to finally give him a good race to be harping at me. It was great. Real happy with it.

THE MODERATOR: Nick, how about you? Tell us about your run today.

NICK BUSSELL: It was a good race for us. We had a good car. First part of the race, a little hairy there with the cars out there in the big crash. Middle part of the race, Jeff and I had a pretty good race. Marty and Jon, my strategy was to get in front of those guys and see if I could run the bottom, keep it out front. Actually, I was running pretty good lap times for running by myself. Had to do that twice. Managed pull that off. They got a run on me at the end, got around me. All it takes is you lose the nose a little bit, it costs you some momentum, four guys go rolling around you. Tried to build up the speed and get back up there. Kind of ran up on those guys too quick in the last lap, thought I was going to have to settle for fourth or fifth. Ended up getting an extra spot there. It's still a good points day for us. We still finished in the top three. It's good. The team did a good job with everything. Except for the final practice session, we've been in the top four every session. The car has been pretty good. So I think we're pretty happy with that.

THE MODERATOR: Questions from the media.

Q. Marty, talk a little more in-depth about what changing engineers in the middle of the season has been like and what really you feel like that added coming into this race.

MARTY ROTH: Well, you know, we threw some new ideas at the car. Mark has just a tremendous amount of experience with these cars and with the big cars. You know, we came with new ideas. We didn't have a chance to test them. We started on the back row and just worked our way to the front. We really didn't know what we were going to have at the start of the race. You just got to settle in and figure out what you've got underneath you. You've got a few adjustments you can do in the car. You've just got to be patient, figure out what you have, run with it. Everything we did all weekend moved us up as far as time went. It's a short weekend. You run out of time. You got to sort of get your crystal ball out and figure out what you're going to do for the race because you still have a few changes to make at the end. The great thing with working with Mark is all the changes we made throughout the weekend moved us up. He's got a real good crystal ball with him.

Q. Nick, your fourth podium of the year, third with Vision Racing. About mid race, lap 30, you were going like three-wide up there at the front of the pack for two or three laps. Talk about that. Pretty much some of the first extended three-wide racing we've seen all season in the Pro Series.

NICK BUSSELL: There was a lot of firsts out there today. I really don't have a lot of experience running in these big packs because this year we've added road courses, had some short oval races, a couple of the bigger super speedways. Haven't really had the opportunity to run in dirty air and that kind of thing, except for Texas. Texas wasn't as crazy as this race. Texas was a little more single file, guys waiting their times. This thing got a little crazy in the middle of the race. Actually from the get-go, it was three-wide and two-by-two-by-two. You know, part of why I wanted to get to the front of that was so I didn't have to be in that situation. I was there a few times. It was an experience, I know that. You know, considering last night after the final session, I was pretty happy with the car but wasn't quite sure how good I was going to do. Made some last-minute adjustments, and I was pretty comfortable from the get-go. I think we could have maybe won that race. It's a little disappointing because I thought maybe I was going to run the bottom, make those guys go around, because typically that's the place to be. Marty got a good run with Jeff. Jeff got around Marty. It's actually a lot more competitive than it has been in the past where guys can run the bottom and just stay there. It was a good race I think for everybody.

Q. Marty, I noticed the side pod of your car had a sponsor on it. Did that assist you in getting Mark on board?

MARTY ROTH: Well, no. But Royal Spa, they've been with us since Indy. They're more of an after-race thing to look forward to. I'm certainly looking forward to jumping in one of those hot tubs right now (laughter).

Q. Could you comment on the large incident toward the beginning of the race. Took four or five cars out of the race. Did either one of you get a good look at that? What were your thoughts?

NICK BUSSELL: I had a pretty good look at it, but I don't know how much I should comment about that one. It definitely was close up there, and basically that wreck started to happen a couple laps before that. I saw the 20 car get on the apron. I thought, "Here goes Jay. He's going to spin out or something." Ended up getting collected. At first I lifted a little bit, probably a little too quick, took me a little bit by surprise as far as how angled they were at. When I realized they were going to be coming back up the track, at least one of them, I went back to throttle. The 8 car, it was about as close as you would want to get. The 6 car was coming around the outside of me, we just about hit. I think Wade and Chris were right behind me and they got taken out. It was a matter of inches almost probably. I mean, it was really close. As far as what started it, it's a little hard to say. I just know it was real racy there right towards the beginning.

MARTY ROTH: Well, I didn't see that much. I saw some smoke bouncing around going through three. There was a little pushing and shoving. By the time they moved into the apex of the corner, right in between three and four, you just saw it all break loose. I just stayed on the bottom, knowing everything goes out to the outside usually. I just slowed it down, kept it low, sort of fed my way through all the wreckage and carnage. We're just happy we didn't pick up a flat or anything like that because, you know, I don't know how all these cars managed to get through there without picking up a flat. As far as I'm concerned, there was a lot of shrapnel everywhere.

Q. What was Pancho telling you? Did he tell you which direction to go? Was he pretty accurate?

MARTY ROTH: Oh, yeah. He's so great to have up there, giving you a heads-up on what's happening and race strategy and that. He's just been a big help all year as far as communicating with our engineer and stuff. He's like the third eye up there. I'm telling my guys, you know, what's happening with the car and stuff. When he comes down, he adds that little bit, it's just real helpful. He's just been great. I really appreciate all his efforts up there.

THE MODERATOR: Guys, thank you very much. We're now joined by race winner Jeff Simmons. This is Jeff's third win this season, his fifth career Pro Series victory. He was second here in 2004. Jeff, why don't you tell us about your day and that last-lap pass victory.

JEFF SIMMONS: Well, the day started really good. I was able to get where I wanted to be on that original start, and we moved right up quickly. We were still attacking. Then I saw when Jay Drake was trying to pass Sarah there, I actually had a really good run and I was thinking about going on the outside and trying to take them both. I saw what was happening, kind of backed off, took a little defensive position up high where I was able to see them, knew I'd be able to either duck underneath him if I had to or go around the outside. Fortunately, we made it through there clean. I knew we had a good shot at winning after that because I knew that was a couple of quick cars. It's unfortunate those cars got taken out, but I knew it was going to help us in the long run. We had the same problem that we've been having for I think four races or five races now in a row on the restarts. Sometimes on the original starts, for some reason the motor doesn't really want to clean out, it doesn't want to run right. It will only pull to about seven thousand rpm and kind of stays there. The whole field drove by us. I came on the radio, said, If this thing doesn't clean out quick, we're going to get lost. Fortunately it cleaned out when we got down into turn two. We were able to start pulling right back up on the guys going into turn three. After that we led for a fair bit there. I think I fell asleep at the wheel for a second and left the door open for Nick Bussell. He got inside of me. After that, I wasn't too disappointed about that because I wasn't sure if we wanted to lead on that last lap. I ended up at the end that that was actually right. I was set up the best way I could to be second and try to make that move on the last lap. Worked out perfectly. It's not often where you're able to get those last-lap wins in the most dramatic style. That was really excited. I'm so happy for everybody at Kenn Hardley Racing. We're really on a roll now. It just feels good to win again.

THE MODERATOR: Questions for Jeff.

Q. Third win of the year, first one on a bigger oval. If you could, talk a little about lap 60, 61. You were kind of right behind Marty Roth. You were extremely close to him. Talk about strategically what you were thinking about then and how that set you up for the end of the race.

JEFF SIMMONS: Well, obviously, you know, Nick is closer to me in the points, so I'd rather not help him. I kind of figured I'd have a better chance of winning. Nick seemed to have a faster car than Marty overall. I figured if I had Marty leading the pack, I had a better chance on the last lap. I tried to push him by. When he cut down right in front of Nick, after he got by, I wasn't too happy because we had a lot to do with him getting by. You would hope that they repay the favor just by staying in your line and allowing you to follow them through. But I can see why that happens. People get impatient and they say, "Finally I'm clear." They get right down and try to block. That was what I was thinking. I knew I had a better chance coming down to the last laps if Marty's car was out front rather than Nick's. After that, I tried to push Marty away and get a gap on the rest of the field so I'd be able to lay back a little bit and get the run that I needed.

Q. Can you tell us, how good was your car. Your strategy on the last lap, when you were going to make your move. Made it pretty early in the last lap, right?

JEFF SIMMONS: Yeah. I did it early basically because that's how the run worked out. I didn't want to leave it -- I knew we had a gap right then to some of the cars behind a little bit as well. I think my car was working very well off turn four. Sometimes it takes almost the whole lap just to get that full nose ahead. Sometimes you only get half the pass done and you come back on the next straightaway, they come back by you a little bit. Come back out on the next one, you nose ahead. We needed to try to get it done a little bit early.

Q. I don't know how exciting it was for you, but there were times when you were running two- and three-wide. Sitting there in the middle, how was it for you?

JEFF SIMMONS: I didn't want to be there. I was hoping that the guys behind, you know, would just push me by. For the most part, most of the guys, whenever they got a run, they just popped out to the outside and made it three-wide. I was cursing inside my helmet every time, going, What are you doing? Just push me by, then your second, then you can try to pass me instead of trying to make something a little more dangerous than that. Every time they do that, the inside guy has no idea that there's another car out there, and that I can't give any more room than I am. I didn't really want to be there. There were a lot of times I thought, I'm just going to back out of this and let these two go. Sometimes you can't do that because there's guys all around behind you as well and you don't want to lift too often at these speeds because a lift is almost like you're stepping on the brakes sometimes. It was very exciting and nerve-wracking at the same time a bit.

THE MODERATOR: Jeff, I did notice you had a 9/11 decal on your car. Today is the anniversary. I don't know if there was any special meaning.

JEFF SIMMONS: Well, I mean, everybody on the team remembers 9/11 and feels very strongly for this country. I myself was in New York on September 11th, that day. It hits home for me certainly. We want to remember them. Everybody on Team ISI wants to remember them and pay them tribute as well as all the people that have been affected by Hurricane Katrina. That was it. Everybody on the team, especially Kenn and everybody, feels very strongly about it.


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