Kyffin Simpson scored another top-10 finish in the Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires at the tough St. Petersburg FL circuit, once again showcasing front-running pace amongst more experienced Road to Indy drivers in the field.
With St. Petersburg being a temporary street venue, track time was strictly limited to official sessions and Kyffin’s first experience of the circuit came in Friday’s FP1. Kyffin focused on logging as many laps as possible first, before building on his pace to star in his best ever Indy Pro 2000 qualifying effort.
Despite a red flag curtailing most of Q1’s running time and relegating Kyffin to a P13 start in Race 1, the #21 car demonstrated its true pace in Q2 to log the 5th fastest time overall, just 0.29s shy of the pole position time.
After a sizeable improvement in Q2, Kyffin said:
“[P5] was a great result after yesterday. The track was changing quite quickly with the heat and IndyCar rubber going down, so it was crucial to get a lap as late as possible in Q1. Unfortunately, the red flag caught me at exactly the wrong time. Q2 was much better! I felt pretty good in the car and everything lined up nicely in the end. I think 5th is a better representation of where we’re at in this Indy Pro 2000 field.”
Lining up 13th, Kyffin took the green flag for the start of Indy Pro 2000’s first race on the 7th row of the grid. The #21 car was quick to take advantage of other’s mistakes as the cars ahead jostled for position, emerging P12 by lap 5. The first full-course yellow came on lap 12 to clear the stricken #11 car at turn 10. Kyffin used this opportunity to reset and prepare for an attack on the top-10, and did just that as the race went green once again on lap 14.
Pressuring the cars ahead, Kyffin took advantage of a mistake by Miller in the #40 car to make an impressive two overtakes in a single lap. Clearing the #3 of James Roe, Kyffin began lap 16 in 10th position and set about chasing down the #27 ahead. As the chequered flag fell on 30 minutes of racing, Kyffin crossed the line 10th overall with a net gain of three places despite the tricky nature of the St. Petersburg circuit.
Sunday at St. Pete kicked off with Indy Pro’s second and final race of the weekend, with Kyffin lining up an impressive P5 on the grid. After getting a clean start, the #21 car slotted into the field and hunkered down for a close race in the pack.
Approaching the tight middle sector with most of the field around him still two-wide, Kyffin made the small but costly mistake of clipping the inside wall. This impact sent the #21 car into the #87 alongside, and unfortunately brought Kyffin’s race to an early end.
Reviewing a tough weekend at St. Pete, Kyffin focused on the positives:
“There are no room for mistakes here. We were all still racing two, sometimes three-wide halfway around the opening lap. Unfortunately, I got squeezed a little bit and touched the wall. I’m gutted for the team as the other two cars had great races. Still, I think Q2 and Race 1 showed what we’re capable of, and there are lots of positives I can take from this weekend to apply to Indy. That will be a special weekend, racing around the Brickyard. I can’t wait!”
Juncos Racing Team Owner Ricardo Juncos said:
“Kyffin unfortunately was caught up in an incident on track that took him out of the race on the first lap. The margin of error is zero on street courses, so these situations will happen when there are such close battles. Even though he didn’t get the result we hoped for he did an incredible job being his first time at St. Pete and clearly showed the great pace he has by putting the car in P5 during the second qualifying after only being on track for two sessions.”
4 of 18 rounds completed, Kyffin stands 14th in the overall standings with 52 points.
Kyffin’s next race weekend is arguably the highlight of the year; Indy Pro 2000 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, followed by FR Americas at Road America… back-to-back! Rounds 5, 6 & 7 of Indy Pro take place on May 13-15, with FR Americas’ Rounds 4, 5 & 6 on 14-16.
Kyffin is supported by Simpson Race Products, GoPro action cameras, Spy sunglasses, DART, BODDENS and Kokoro Performance driver coaching services.