Charlotte: Michael Simko race report

Michael Simko Charges To Tenth at Lowes Concord, North Carolina - - Michael Simko regained the confidence he lost by finishing tenth at Lowes Motor Speedway last Thursday night. It was his second top-ten finish on a Superspeedway. The Auburn...

Michael Simko Charges To Tenth at Lowes

Concord, North Carolina - - Michael Simko regained the confidence he lost by finishing tenth at Lowes Motor Speedway last Thursday night. It was his second top-ten finish on a Superspeedway.

The Auburn Racing team participated in the open test session at the 1.5-mile oval several weeks prior to the big show. It paid off.

In the first practice session, Simko put his No. 39 Chevrolet Monte Carlo 17th on the speed charts with a fast lap of 31.187 seconds amounting to a speed of 173.149 MPH. "The car is good, but were hunting for more speed, we're going to make some changes for qualifying and hopefully start this race in the top-ten," said Simko.

Unfortunately, the changes bit the team in time trials.

The Mound Steel sponsored machine qualified a disappointing 24th. The Clarkston, Michigan native maneuvered his automobile around the track in 31.594 seconds, or 170.919 MPH. "We lost the handle on our Chevrolet Monte Carlo, we over adjusted but the important thing is that we're in the show, we'll be better for the race, that's a guarantee," Simko explained.

In Happy Hour, the final practice session before the event, the second-generation driver vowed to get back on track. He was 17th fastest on the sheet, but still searching for speed. "We're back in the top-twenty, and the car is solid, but there are some fast guys upfront, we'll do the best we can Thursday night."

The Quaker Steak & Lube 100 took the green flag shortly after 9:00pm EST. This event was the shortest of the 2004 ARCA RE/MAX Series giving the 41 drivers a 67-lap shootout for the trophy.

The No. 39 was solid from the start. Simko bid his time feeling out his racecar, and taking one position at a time heading towards the front. Many of the ARCA teams weren't going to need to make a pit stop because of such the short distance in the event, which played into the hands of the Michigan based team.

The cautions waved frequently on Thursday night, which aided the team's fuel run. While the 23-year old was never a factor for the win, he patiently worked his way up through the pack, crossing the line tenth.

The finish awarded the team with their fifth top-ten finish in only 11 events. "We had a good night," smiled Simko climbing from his machine. "I said earlier in the week, we had a top-12 car and that's exactly what we had. We battled some handling woes, but we overcame that and grabbed a nice finish." Simko also mentioned, "I am glad that we tested here, I feel that is a huge benefit to our performance tonight."

In addition to their solid finish, the team also earned the Hoosier Hard Charger award for advancing the most positions during the race. "It's a real honor to get this award, I can't thank my team enough for their help and support, this awards not only for me, but them too."

Simko's also hopes the finish attracts some potential sponsors for the team. "We've got some local sponsors, but we're looking for some major funding, we've shown we can run in the top-ten, hopefully we'll get a nice sponsor and really shine."

While the ARCA RE/MAX Series heads to Kansas Speedway next weekend, Simko and his team won't return to the tour until mid-June at Michigan International Speedway. "I would have loved to make it two top-tens in a row next weekend at Kansas, but without some financial help, we're on a tight schedule, we'll look to head to MIS for a top-five finish."

-ar-

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Series ARCA