Kyffin Simpson battled through a difficult race weekend at Road America, finishing 9th in Round 7 of the 2022 Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires series. Coming off the back of Top 5 results and pace at the previous two events, Kyffin’s confidence was buoyed by a strong test day showing at Road America in late May. Unfortunately, pace proved hard to find in the #21 TJ Motorsports machine throughout official practice and qualifying, and further mishaps prevented Simpson from progressing in Sunday’s red flag interrupted race.
Friday’s opening practice session was anything but straightforward. With limited tire allocations per car, most teams planned to run a single qualifying simulation over 4 laps. Making the most of the clear, sunny weather, Kyffin opted for 2 short runs over 7 laps to work on the #21’s performance, but it was clear from the lap times that something was amiss. Simpson ended the session 13th, 2.8s off the ultimate pace. After a long debrief and investigation, it was found that mechanical trouble contributed to the uncompetitive showing.
Thanks to the hard work of the TJ Speed Motorsports crew, pace returned to the #21 car in time for Saturday morning’s practice session, but it would prove to be an uphill battle as Simpson was effectively a session behind his competitors in preparation for qualifying. Despite this, Kyffin ended the session 10th fastest, halving the gap to the front-running pace in just 11 laps.
Qualifying was arguably Simpson’s best showing all weekend. Over the course of 2 short runs, the young Caymanian reduced the gap to the front even further when it counted the most, posting a lap of just over 1s off pole-sitter Robb with a time of 1:55.0848. This was good enough for 8th overall, having found nearly 3s of time on his Friday test runs.
Following qualifying, Kyffin said:
“I think 8th was realistically the limit today; there’s a gap between us and the next group of guys ahead. The weekend isn’t over anyway. We had a worse result this time last weekend and still got some good points out of it. We’ll keep working on the car and see what’s possible tomorrow.”
Sunday’s early race brought cooler temperatures, albeit still clear and sunny weather, and Kyffin rolled off from 8th to begin a 20-lap shootout around the 4-mile Road America circuit.
Starting behind championship leader Lundqvist, Kyffin found himself boxed in at Turn 1 as the outside lane was slow to react to the flag. Unfortunately, this dropped the #21 to 12th behind teammate Roe, and it wasn’t long before the first full-course caution period interrupted any chance of a fightback. Another caution came immediately after the restart for a high-speed accident at Turn 5, once again preventing Simpson from making any real progress in the opening stage of the race. Due to the significant damage caused to track fencing, the race was red-flagged and delayed until after the NTT INDYCAR SERIES event.
Amongst the melee through Turns 1-5, Simpson had sustained front wing damage and a front left puncture – both requiring repairs, but only allowed to be addressed after the race had officially resumed at 2:15pm local time. This short delay whilst the grid left pit lane meant Kyffin finally took the green flag some 15 seconds behind the next car, 9th overall.
5 hours after the original checkered flag time for Round 7, the race ended with Simpson maintaining 9th place. Unfortunately, he was unable to make any further progress with the unsurmountable gap suffered from repairs on pit road.
Looking back on the weekend, Kyffin said:
“It was a really tough weekend, to be honest. We struggled to find any pace in the car, but despite that we still lined up 8th for the race and I felt confident we could make progress. The start killed any chances we had, unfortunately. I don’t know what happened, but our side of the grid was so slow. I was basically last before we even made it to Turn 1.”
“With all the cautions, the red flag and then the repairs we had to make, any chance of a decent result was very slim. I pushed as hard as I could for the final 10 laps, but it wasn’t quite enough to catch the guys ahead. At least we don’t have too long to wait until Mid Ohio! I’m putting all of my energy and focus into having a solid weekend next time out.”
Indy Lights action returns on the July 1st-3rd weekend for the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio. Fans can follow live coverage on the NTT INDYCAR SERIES website and mobile apps, and can support Kyffin on social media via Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
Kyffin is supported by Ridgeline Lubricants, InvestCayman, Visit Cayman Islands, Boddens Legal, Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa, Simpson Race Products, GoPro action cameras, Spy sunglasses and Kokoro Media.