Late Race Contact Fumbles Potential Career-Best Day For Simko at Michigan International Speedway Brooklyn, Michigan - - Michael Simko had high hopes entering Saturday's Flagstar 200, but contact with Jerry Glanville with seven laps remaining in...
Late Race Contact Fumbles Potential Career-Best Day For Simko at Michigan International Speedway
Brooklyn, Michigan - - Michael Simko had high hopes entering Saturday's Flagstar 200, but contact with Jerry Glanville with seven laps remaining in the 100-lap event ruined a potential career-best day for the Clarkston, Michigan native.
The teams were awarded with two practice sessions, one on Thursday afternoon with the other occurring on Friday morning prior to NASCAR Nextel practice. On Thursday, Simko turned the 12th fastest lap with a time of 41.060 seconds equaling a speed of 175.353 MPH. The session was cut short as a strong thunderstorm roared through the Irish Hills area.
Friday morning, Simko pushed his No. 75 machine to 13th on the charts with a lap of 40.149 seconds amounting to a speed of 179.332 MPH. "We're faster, that's a good thing, hopefully we'll be even faster by the end of qualifying," said Simko.
Time Trials were disappointing for the Auburn Racing team as Simko locked the 19th position in qualifying with a time of 40.348 seconds, or 178.448 MPH. "I'm really not happy with that, we were looking for a top-ten effort, but at least we're in the show," continued Simko.
Happy Hour wasn't so happy for the team. After turning only the 20th fastest lap, the team blew an engine which would force them to give up their 19th place starting position along with falling back to the tail of the field for the green flag. "The backup engine is just as good as the primary, it's the same engine that we used here in the practice session, so we know its strong, its just disappointing that we have to go to the back," he explained.
40 drivers took the green flag shortly after 1:00pm EST with Simko immediately taking charge and steering his Mound Steel & Supplies Chevrolet towards the front.
When the first caution waved on lap 15 involving a wreck between Justin Hobgood, and Jason Jarrett, Simko reported to his crew that the car was handling well, and that he was remaining patient. The team had decided to stay out and gain track position with no intentions of coming in until around lap 40.
On the restart, Simko continued to master his way around the two-mile oval, while also avoiding a wild wreck on the backstretch which saw Chad McCumbee take a wild ride in his No. 10 machine.
During a long span of green-flag racing the team was desperately hoping and praying the yellow flag would waive so the would not have to make a stop under the green flag. That caution came on lap 37, sending smiles across the team members faces. Simko came to the attention of his pit crew, where they bolted four new Hoosier tires, added Sunoco Racing fuel and no adjustments.
Back to green, Simko was committed to racing his way back towards the front, but the crew warned their driver that he needed to save them a little fuel, as should the race go green, they were going to be close. Another caution waved, throwing the fuel strategy out the window and Simko's Chevrolet to pit road for a splash of fuel.
With enough fuel for the finish, tires with only 17 laps of racing, and a good handling machine, Simko was strapping in for his final run of the day. He immediately took off on the start, and rocketed his way back towards the top-ten.
The laps were winding down, with the steelworker by trade closing in on a top five finish, before disaster struck on lap 93. He was battling with former National Football League (NFL) coach Jerry Glanville, who was making his first start since a near-career ending accident at Kentucky Speedway saw the two battling for the eighth position. Michael's machine washed up into the No. 8 of Glanville, sending him on a wild spin down the backstretch, with no caution and heavy front-end damage to the front of Simko's Diamond Racing automobile, the 23-year old Simko would be forced to make an unexpected trip to pit road to change a right front tire, and repair the sheet metal damage.
He returned to the track two laps behind race winner Reed Sorenson, and was credited with a 20th place finish.
"I was just trying way too hard. Had I been smarter and more patient I could've passed him the next lap, but I just flat screwed up," said the dejected driver. "I'm really sorry to Jerry Glanville and his team. The car drifted up and I got into him, it wasn't intentional and destroyed two good finishes. I just hate it, especially for my team and sponsors, we had a solid top-ten finish erased by a stupid move."
The team will soak up the disappointing finish, knowing they were competitive and fast, and look for a second chance on the Speedway, as the team will compete at Kentucky Speedway next month.