Indy Lights rookie Kyffin Simpson brought home an impressive 5th place finish in the 2022 Indy Lights Grand Prix of Alabama, driving a measured race at Barber Motorsports Park as others faltered in changeable conditions. A wet-to-dry 45 minutes saw the entire field manage deteriorating wet weather tires with the fastest route around the 2.38-mile circuit changing lap by lap.
Kicking things off on a decidedly dry Friday and Saturday, the #21 TJ Speed Motorsports driver wasted no time getting up to speed after a mechanical setback in the opening practice session. The 17-year-old from Grand Cayman scored his best Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires qualifying position to date – P6.
It was a clear step in performance from Kyffin and the TJ Speed crew as their shared understanding of the IL-15 machine continues to grow.
Speaking after qualifying, Kyffin said:
“Well, that was exciting! The car felt amazing – Tim and the team have done such a good job with the setup. To come back from a tough first practice and be that fast is great. The final sector of my best lap didn’t quite come together so I’m a little disappointed, but we can be happy with 6th and I’m confident we can move forwards tomorrow.”
The scene on Sunday morning was anything but dry; heavy rain, thunder and lightning threatened to postpone the race, if not cancel it altogether. However, as TJ Speed applied a full wet setup to Kyffin’s car, 10 minutes prior to the planned Indy Lights start time the weather relented and cars were set to the grid. Game on.
After two very wet pace laps, the Indy Lights Grand Prix of Alabama went green with Simpson starting on the outside of the third row. The young Caymanian wasted no time in attacking the cars ahead, launching a late-braking manoeuvre on the outside of Turn 5 to secure 5th place.
Simpson set about chasing Sting-Ray Robb for 4th place before 15 minutes in, the first caution period neutralised the race. After a quick reset, the race resumed and Kyffin found himself 4th, challenging for a debut Indy Lights podium after a mistake from Rasmussen at the restart.
The final 10 minutes of the race would prove to be the most challenging yet rewarding for Kyffin as his tires particularly suffered from degradation. Frost, McLrea and Brabham overtook the #21, before a late race clash between McLrea and Brabham rewarded Kyffin’s level-headed drive with 5th on the road.
Looking back on an eventful race, Kyffin said:
“That was a long race! It’s a shame the rain stopped as we were super fast at the start. I really thought we would be challenging for a podium today. Unfortunately, once the sun came out our tires were toast. Still, I’m really happy with 5th. Considering we started the weekend with a mechanical issue, we’ve got some good points and I feel like we’ve made great progress as a team. Tim and the TJ Speed crew did an incredible job as always. That first trophy isn’t far away. I’m looking forward to Indy already.”
Away from the track action, Kyffin joined NTT INDYCAR SERIES drivers from Chip Ganassi Racing – Alex Palou, Jimmy Johnson and Scott Dixon – along with Romain Grosjean, Callum Ilott and others at the Barber Motorsports Museum for the 11th Anniversary Racing for Children’s Weekend Presented by Medical Properties Trust.
Looking ahead into the month of May, the 17-year-old will join Haas F1 Team as a guest at the Formula 1 Crypto.com Miami Grand Prix before heading back to the Brickyard for the build-up to 106th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge. Simpson returns to the cockpit on the 13-15 May weekend for first double-header of 2022 – the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course races.
Kyffin is supported by InvestCayman, Visit Cayman Islands, Boddens Legal, Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa, Simpson Race Products, GoPro action cameras, Spy sunglasses and Kokoro Media.