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Infiniti Pro Series: Corning 100

Open Wheel Racing Topics:  Corning 100

Infiniti Pro Series: Corning 100

Marco Andretti
Wade Cunningham
Jeff Simmons
September 25, 2005


THE MODERATOR: We have with us, Ladies and Gentlemen, the drivers that finished second and third in today's race. Wade Cunningham is here. On the right is Marco Andretti. Guys, great race out there, nice job. We watched the race from in here in the media center. Looked like it was a fairly competitive one. Marco, talk about your stint here today.

MARCO ANDRETTI: The start was unbelievable. You know, I really didn't know what kind of a car I was going to have. Basically I was kind of being a little cautious, giving up a little time. But we got lucky. I got by Wade, then Jeff kind of made a mistake. We got out into the lead, started to put my head down, started to get really comfortable in a race car that Tony and I really did a lot of work. We were nowhere. These guys had two seconds on us coming into the weekend, wet or dry. This morning was good turnaround. I guess things were going too good to be true until a lap car just had no idea I was coming up on him. Saw him giving the flags, but maybe he didn't expect me to pass him there. You know, I went for it. If I didn't pass him there, it's hard to tell what would have happened. Obviously, I wish I wouldn't have done that now, but it's too late.

THE MODERATOR: Wade, looked like a competitive race from where we were sitting. How about from where you were sitting?

WADE CUNNINGHAM: It was pretty difficult today. I went through the first turn in the lead, got on the power. With the downforce levels I was running today, we got killed going up the back straight with a headwind, as well. Didn't even get into sixth gear today, which means we were a good five or six miles an hour down from yesterday. It was a tough race until the car came in. Once the tires were warm, the car was very fast. Once I could like get back up on to Marco and Jeff, I was right there. A couple times, I was really close, tried to pass. Each time Jeff kept the door shut. On the last couple laps, Marco did a good job to keep the door shut. I could never slipstream down the straight because of the level of downforce I was running.

THE MODERATOR: Questions for our drivers.

Q. Marco, can you take us through what you were thinking when you caught up?

MARCO ANDRETTI: As anxious as I am, I was just trying to get it done as early as I can, because that would have been the race for me. If he would have moved over a few inches, we would have had it done. I actually almost got Jeff back in the next corner because I just stayed in, closed my eyes. It would have been better I think if I would have just waited and been a little patient. Guess I learned the hard way.

Q. What do you think about this course?

MARCO ANDRETTI: My favorite. One of my favorites.

Q. Wade, last lap, you almost got Marco. Got right up on him.

WADE CUNNINGHAM: We were going into turn eight. Just the way the corner, the banking, the way the corner opens up on like the middle and exit. He stayed on the inside going in, but as the corner developed, it sort of turns into an average line. It's not a terrible line. He was able to go low. He just stayed right in the middle of the track through the exit and I couldn't pass.

Q. Marco, early on, once you took the lead, looked like you were pulling away (inaudible)?

MARCO ANDRETTI: I think I might have overdrove the car early on, which then killed me for the end. But I could have a 12-second lead and know that the race isn't over with these guys. Especially I knew this car started to go away, I was hoping theirs was, too. I guess mine was a little more. It happens.

Q. Marco, could you describe the first lap?

MARCO ANDRETTI: I guess I just wanted to stay around the outside and at least get Jaime the first corner. All I wanted to do, because I knew these guys were going to be flying, was get into their lead draft. If they would have been gone, maybe would have been a done deal. Maybe me putting pressure on cold tires, I got lucky with Jeff making a mistake. That's the first lap. Unfortunately, it's not the last.

Q. Wade, did you think you three were going to get that far out in front?

WADE CUNNINGHAM: I knew Jeff and I were quite a lot faster than the field. I didn't expect Marco to gain those two seconds back. That was a big ask. I figured we were running quite a slow pace. The track wasn't very good. There were damp patch es in a lot of the high-speed stuff. Every lap you push a little harder to see if the track is improving. I'm not really surprised to see the people that were slow in qualifying weren't there in the race.

Q. Your impressions of Watkins Glen?

WADE CUNNINGHAM: It's definitely a driver's track. The corners are definitely so fast, you have to have a lot of faith in the car and the equipment. It was a lot of fun. I'm disappointed not to win here, but I'm glad we're coming back here next year.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you and nice job. Jeff Simmons, our race winner, nice job out there.

JEFF SIMMONS: Thank you very much. I was cursing at myself early on in the race there. I just couldn't -- I made the mistake there and spun coming out of the corner. Couldn't seem to get the brake bias right. We made some changes right before the race. I think that I was probably driving around a lot of problems with the car. It was a good car, Kenn Hardley Racing and Team ISI obviously gave me a car that was fast enough to win, but it was a struggle there for a while. We got a little fortunate I think with the way the traffic worked out. I was actually thinking coming up to it that I didn't want the traffic. We were closing in. I was getting in position to try to make that pass without the traffic. I was a little worried it was going to mess us up rather than help us.

Q. Kind of like a homecoming, coming back here?

JEFF SIMMONS: Yeah. Actually on Thursday I was up in Rochester doing a lot of promotional stuff for this race. I was telling everybody how excited I was to be coming back here. I didn't realize until late Thursday as I came back to the track, I got a big smile on my face. It was like seeing an old friend I hadn't seen in a while. I got more excited. Even when the rain was pouring down, I hadn't been in the rain for five years before I drove Friday morning. I still had a smile on my face the whole time. This is a pretty nice place. I like the whole area.

Q. (No microphone.)

JEFF SIMMONS: Yeah, I mean, in a way it was almost like driving in the rain sometimes. There were wet spots on the track. I really had to try not to overdrive the car anywhere. We were on a (indiscernible) the whole time, whether it was the high-speed corners or the low-speed corners. I was trying to remain patient there. I was getting the lap count every time. They were letting me know how many laps were left. I knew I had time there. I was just trying to inch closer and closer, trying to set up time for the pass down there into the inner loop. But we ended up being able to do it there in the traffic earlier.

Q. Was the track rough by your standards?

JEFF SIMMONS: It's definitely not rough compared to other tracks that I've been on. It's nothing like a street course or anything. But there are spots, especially in certain braking zones and a few of those concrete patches that they have down in some of the corners, give a ripple effect which seems to upset the car sometimes. It's not too rough, but the bumps were affecting us a little bit today, especially when we were coming in a north direction because the wind was behind us lifting up the rear of the car. It was really unsettling as we went to the brakes over the bumps.

Q. Did you think you could get by Marco? After you spun, you worked your way back. Did you feel you had the faster car?

JEFF SIMMONS: I was pretty sure we had a car that was quick enough, yeah. That's why I was cursing myself, "What are you doing driving it off the track down there, spinning it?" Fortunately, I was able to do the 360, keep it going, not lose more positions. Like I said, late in the race there, once we closed back in on him, I was just trying to inch further, closer and closer. His car was -- he seemed better in some spots, and I was quicker in others. I think we ran lower downforce than anybody, which contributed to us kind of having to fight the car. We were lower on downforce, so we were quick down the straight, but they were able to kind of pull away in other sections. I was trying to inch closer and closer to Marco and set up a path into the inner loop.

THE MODERATOR: Questions for our winner, Jeff Simmons.

Q. Looked like you had a little bobble coming toward the inner loop. Did you think that was it?

JEFF SIMMONS: I'm not sure when that was.

Q. Right before you made the pass.

JEFF SIMMONS: Oh, no, I mean, I actually -- I saw that happening ahead and was kind of backing off. Do you mean down here or the inner loop?

Q. Inner loop.

JEFF SIMMONS: Yeah, I mean, I actually saw that car doing that. I was turning in and trying to slow the car at the same time because I didn't know where he was going to go. I didn't know if Marco was going to collect him. He and I both were trying to park our cars there and figure out which way to go. Marco squeezed through on one side, I was able to set up the run and go around the outside.

Q. Did you think you were going to catch him that fast?

JEFF SIMMONS: No. I mean, I knew Marco wasn't going to get him before the inner loop. Before he got there, I couldn't predict that he was going to go off, which made us catch him very quickly.

Q. What is next for you?

JEFF SIMMONS: Fontana (laughter). Hopefully an IndyCar ride. I've been working for years and years to get a full-time ride in the IndyCars. Kenn Hardley has been kind enough to support me and help me, put me in a car this year so I can continue to develop and show my talent. I hope the team owners out there realize now we've won on every type of track. We're the only guy that's won on the short oval, the long oval and a road course now. Hopefully I'll be able to move on. The Indy 500 I ran last year. Certainly I'd like to get back that there. That was probably the best day of my life.

Q. Have you thought about applying for Brazilian citizenship?

JEFF SIMMONS: That's not a bad idea. It's a factory down there.

Q. About six laps to go, it appeared to us that perhaps you and Cunningham maybe have had a little contact. Did you?

JEFF SIMMONS: I don't think so. I don't think there was any contact. But he was quicker in some of the spots than we were, able to close up there. A couple of times I had to take a defensive line to get through certain areas just so he wouldn't be able to get by. I knew I would be able to get away in other areas. I didn't feel anything.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Jeff.

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