First Win on List of Improvements for 2021
Clarkston, MI (Tuesday, February 23, 2021) - When the delayed 2020 season began for the ARCA/CRA Super Series, Clarkston, Michigan’s, Michael Simko had one thing in mind - be better than last year. Five months later, Simko achieved his goals after a few top 10 finishes and a shot at the ARCA/CRA Championship heading into the final event of the year. Now, he’s looking forward to even more success in 2021.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 ARCA/CRA season was delayed until May, when over 25 Super Late Model teams embarked on Lebanon I-44 Speedway for the Show Me State Showdown. Of those, Simko clocked in with a time fast enough to roll off the grid in sixth. When the checkered flag waved at the end of 125 laps, fellow Michigan native, Carson Hocevar found victory lane, and Simko showed speed all race, finishing fifth.
The next few events were a struggle for Simko, who was either greeted with mechanical issues or on-track skirmishes that resulted in poor finishes. On June 20th, Simko finished 13th after 106 of 125 laps around Anderson Speedway; then July 4th at Jennerstown Speedway after a strong run throughout most of the race, Simko was knocked out of the event on lap 156 of 200. Bad luck continued during the return trip to Anderson, when just ten laps into the race, Simko and Hunter Jack were involved in a race-ending crash.
During Labor Day weekend, Simko returned to Lebanon, Missouri where he found his best finish of the season, just in time for the Chase for the Championship. Simko finished in second behind race-winner, Hocevar. The good performance continued the following race when Simko finished 8th with a brand new car during the Glass City 200 at Toledo Speedway. A poor performance at the US Short Track Nationals at Bristol Motor Speedway put Simko on the bubble of making a push for the Championship. In fact, following his 15th place finish, Simko thought his Championship hopes were destroyed.
Hear Simko's Full Interview with Horsepower Happenings.
“10 laps into the race I blew a power steering line,” Simko told Horsepower Happenings. “So that was less than enjoyable. Then, to come away from that race being told that we missed the final four by one point - just defeated like crazy.”
A bizarre change of events would put the wind back in Simko’s sails for the final event. “Got a call from CRA a couple days later saying they made a scoring mistake and that we are in the final four for Winchester,” Simko explains.
The final race of the season would give Simko a 13th place finish at the end of 400 laps around Winchester Speedway. The 45 team dealt with a pair of flat tires during green flag runs, putting Simko behind the 8-ball. Even so, Simko brought home a third-place finish in the 2020 ARCA/CRA Super Series Final Points Standings. Now, Simko is looking forward to more success in 2021.
“I really do think we’re on the cusp of our first win with the template cars,” Simko says. “Goal number one is to get a win.”
He says with the help of Vandoorn Racing Development, Simko could see himself going to victory lane at either Salem Speedway or Berlin Raceway. After that, Simko says he wants another chance to battle for a championship at Winchester.
“[A Championship] is the goal, yessir,” said Simko.
His first crack at a run for the ARCA/CRA Super Series Championship begins on Saturday, April 10th for the CRA Silver Anniversary Season Opener. At the end of April, the Series moves on to Salem Speedway where Simko thinks he can get his first win. For more on the ARCA/CRA Super Series schedule, log onto www.cra-racing.com.
For more stories from around the region, be sure to log onto www.horsepowerhappenings.com. Listen to on-demand episodes of the Horsepower Happenings Podcast, with new episodes every Monday night at 9:00 pm.
Story - Zach Hiser, Horsepower Happenings
Photo - John Lund