Chicagoland: Michael Simko race report

Simko Storms To Seventh In Chicagoland Clarkston, Michigan - - After a 25th place finish at Chicagoland Speedway last season, Michael Simko and his Auburn Racing returned to the track looking to improve on that finish, and score their best...

Simko Storms To Seventh In Chicagoland

Clarkston, Michigan - - After a 25th place finish at Chicagoland Speedway last season, Michael Simko and his Auburn Racing returned to the track looking to improve on that finish, and score their best finish of the 2004 season.

Earlier this season, Michael competed in three ARCA Superspeedway events. A tenth place finish at Lowes Motor Speedway, followed by two top-twenty finishes at Michigan (20th), and Kentucky (11th). With improved confidence heading into the weekend, the Clarkston, Michigan native looked to score another top-ten finish in a race that would be full of stout competition.

In the lone practice session before time trials, Simko put his No. 38 Chevrolet 20th on the speed charts. Maneuvering his Mound Steel & Supplies machine around the track in 32.397 seconds equaling a speed of 166.682 MPH. "We're not bad," said the driver. "We're going to adjust the car a little bit before qualifying. I really like Chicagoland, hopefully our weekend will only get better."

Indeed, the weekend was getting better. 40 drivers took a shot at the Pork pole Thursday afternoon, with Simko posting the 16th fastest lap. Whipping his Chevrolet around the Joliet based track in 31.873 seconds, or 169.422 MPH.

"I'm happy," said the avid late model competitor. "We picked up a second from practice, our starting spot leaves nothing but improvement on Saturday."

In Happy Hour, the final practice session before the main event, Simko pounded out the 13th fastest lap. Pushing his machine around the track in 32.209 seconds amounting to a speed 167.655 MPH.

"We're higher on the charts, that's a good thing. I think we're plenty capable of running in the top-ten all day Saturday," explained the third generation driver.

41 cars started the ReadyHosting.com 200 with Simko taking charge at the top-ten early. The yellow flag waived on the very first lap with Simko bolting from his starting position to eighth.

Reporting to his crew and crew chief, father Dave Simko, he mentioned he felt he had a powerful enough car to hopefully score his first top-five finish.

Back under green flag conditions, Simko continued his march towards the lead pack. While avoiding several incidents during the first half of the event, Simko would eventually find himself locking the third position with a very well handling No. 38 automobile.

Despite holding his own inside the top-five for several markers, Simko would be forced to bring his car to the attention of his Auburn Racing team for four Hoosier tires and Sunoco racing fuel nearing lap 65. The team opted not to make any changes to the car, quickly sending a very confident driver back on the track to get back to work.

While making the march back towards the front, Simko battled with yellow flags and the strong colleagues of A J. Fike, Chevy White, and Jennifer Jo Cobb. Closing in on sixth place Billy Venturini, the steelworker by trade would run out time, forcing to settle for a strong seventh place in a race that saw 20 competitors finish the 134 lap event.

"We got a great start jumping all the way up to eighth. The car was handling great. We made a few changes Saturday morning before the race and they definitely paid off. With minimal problems all day, we really thought we had a strong shot for my first top 5 ever," stated a very upbeat Simko.

"Unfortunately, seventh was all we could muster up, but I was far from disappointed with that." The 23-year old driver continued "I'm really happy to have ended our speedway season on such a high note going into the off season. It gives the whole team confidence going into next season, where we hope to run the whole series, if we can find the backing."

With confidence on their side, the Auburn Racing team heads to the challenging short track of Salem Speedway for the running of the Eddie Gilstrap Motors ARCA Fall Classic by Advance Auto Parts this Saturday night. "We're bringing the same great car we had at Toledo and hope to have a solid finish," concluded Michael.

The team is actively seeking sponsorship for the remainder of their 2004 ARCA season, while looking ahead to 2005.

The Eddie Gilstrap Motors ARCA Fall Classic by Advance Auto Parts is the 21st of 22 events on the 2004 ARCA RE/MAX Series schedule. This weekend will mark the second time the teams have competed at Salem Speedway this season. First round practice is on tap Saturday afternoon with qualifying also on the agenda that afternoon, with the race set to take the green flag later that night. The Speed Channel will broadcast the race with same-day coverage starting at 10:30 pm EST.

-ar-

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About this article
Series ARCA
Drivers Billy Venturini