TJSpeed Motorsports driver Kyffin Simpson battled through challenging track conditions to deliver another top-10 finish in Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires at Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS), bouncing back from a disappointing 13th place at the first of two Indy road course races with an impressive performance in a torrential downpour.
Operating as part of a condensed Indy GP schedule, Indy Lights kicked off on Friday with a bumper day of practice, qualifying and racing in clear, sunny weather. Unfortunately, the TJ Speed machines of both Simpson and teammate James Roe struggled to nail a competitive setup in time for the afternoon’s qualifying shoot-out, eventually lining up 12th and 13th respectively.
Kyffin made quick progress as the green flag flew for Race 1. The young Caymanian climbed 5 places to 8th overall in the opening laps, taking advantage of incidents and slow starters ahead to make gains early on. As it would turn out, the combination of fast runners coming back through the pack and soaring temperatures meant the #21’s pace fell off in the second half of the race. Simpson eventually crossed the line 12th.
“A couple of mistakes cost us a better result today. We know we can be faster here – the October test showed that. There’s another race tomorrow so we’ll double down and refocus our efforts on that.” – Kyffin Simpson
Saturday brought anything but predictable weather; a major storm approached from the west as Race 2 began, with all starters on slick tires despite the incoming rain. Kyffin kept out of trouble to mix it on the edge of the top 10 before the race was red-flagged on lap 13 of 35 – officials ultimately deciding to postpone the second half of the race until after the NTT INDYCAR SERIES event.
Returning back to the track some 5 hours later, Simpson and the Indy Lights field were presented with a completely different prospect – full wet conditions, including significant spray and standing water. With the differences in cars ultimately reset by the weather, Simpson mimicked his Race 1 storm through the field to finish 8th by the time the chequered flag fell.
Looking back on a tough Race 2, Kyffin said:
“That was interesting! It’s a little unfortunate the lightning delayed our race for so long – I felt like we had a better package today. Still, I’m pleased to grab 8th from the back and the TJ Speed Motorsports crew did a great job. You learn more on the weekends that challenge you, and I think this was definitely one of the more challenging weekends!”
Tim Neff, TJ Speed team owner added:
“The boys showed great drive and pace in the wet as they both moved forward. Kyffin was well inside the top-ten and James could have earned his career best Indy Lights finish if it wasn’t for late race contact. We will put this weekend behind us and all we can do is focus on doing the same thing in our next race.”
Kyffin remains in ‘the brickyard’ for the build-up to 106th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge, watching on as a member of the Chip Ganassi Racing team as development driver, before returning to the cockpit for the June 8th-10th Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix of Belle Isle.
Kyffin is supported by InvestCayman, Visit Cayman Islands, Ridgeline Lubricants, Boddens Legal, Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa, Simpson Race Products, GoPro action cameras, Spy sunglasses and Kokoro Media.