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Anthony Simone has made 71 NASCAR Pinty's Series starts since 2008. (Matthew Murnaghan/NASCAR)

Getting To Know: Anthony Simone

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the first in a series of offseason profiles on NASCAR Pinty’s Series drivers as a lead-up to the 2018 opener at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park on Sunday, May. 20.

Alex Gallacher (NASCAR.com): You’ve been in and around the NASCAR Pinty’s Series since the beginning. Tell me, what sparked your interest in racing in the Pinty’s Series?

Anthony Simone (NASCAR Pinty’s Series): Well, racing in the Pinty’s Series was something I enjoyed doing for the road courses; my background is in road course racing. I was brought up as a kid from karting through open-wheel racing and then once I couldn’t come up with sponsorship for open-wheel racing, I figured that switching to stock car racing. Instead of just being able to do oval racing in the Pinty’s Series, they also have road-course races. That’s what sparked my interest in the Pinty’s Series, so I could run road-course races.

AG: You race with the No.95, what is the significance of that number?

AS: ‘95 was the year I started karting. In 1995 I started as a junior, and I figured getting into the sport in ’95, I chose that number.

AG: You own your own business Innovative Plumbing, what is does it take to juggle being a race car driver and a business owner?

AS: It’s tough definitely, it takes a lot of good employees for sure, understanding family, a great wife but it’s definitely something especially in the summer months, it takes a lot of time from both ends to make sure the business is running smooth, but it really takes really good employees to take care of the business while you’re away racing is the main thing I find to run both.

AG: The NASCAR Pinty’s Series has one of the most diverse schedules in NASCAR. What is your favourite track to race on and why?

AS: I have two favourite tracks, I like CTMP and the Toronto Indy all just because of my background in road-course racing. I just find that the high speeds at CTMP is something that I’ve always loved. I’ve raced there right from day one, getting my license in open-wheel racing up until the Pinty’s Series and I love that place.

RACING REFERENCE: Anthony Simone

AG: Who was your biggest influence growing up?

AS: I enjoyed Juan Pablo Montoya, his aggressive racing style, growing up, watching him in Indycars at Ganassi. He was one of my biggest influences when I was coming up through racing.

AG: If could race at any race track, anywhere in the world what track would it be and why?

AS: I love Monza, with my background being Italian and the high speed turns and the slow speed stuff with the tight braking zone and stuff like that. It would definitely be Monza.

 AG: Does anyone else in your family have an interest in racing? Do you think we might see more Simons on the track in the future?

AS: Yeah, my son. I have two sons, Rocco and Leo. Rocco just loves the racing, he watches our races in the Pinty’s Series over and over again at home. He knows all the drivers, he knows all the racetracks and he is gonna start kart racing this summer, so I’m sure he’ll be. If he takes an interest to it the way he has so far, he’ll be in the Pinty’s Series by the time he’s 16 or 17.

AG: If you weren’t a racecar driver what career path do you think you might’ve pursued instead?

AS: Well I was actually into bike racing quite a bit. I did some BMX racing and some dirt bike racing but I just stuck with the car racing. I think would’ve went into some other form of motorsport — probably bike racing — if I didn’t do car racing.

AG: Who are your favourite competitors to race against in the Pinty’s Series?

AS:  I don’t really have one favourite competitor. The veterans that race in the series now for a while now that I’ve raced against for so long, D.J (Kennington), (Andrew) Ranger, (Jason) Hathaway before, up to last year are guys that I’ve enjoyed racing against. You what they’re gonna do, you know they’re gonna give you room and you’re gonna be able to race side-by-side with them, so those are a few of the guys that I like racing against.

AG: If you could race against any driver living or dead who would it be?

AS: I would’ve loved to have raced against Gilles Villeneuve. I wasn’t alive back then but just from history and information I’ve looked up, I would love to have raced against him.

AG: Do you follow any other sports besides racing?

AS: Yeah, I follow hockey, football pretty much all I do is watch sports. I don’t really watch anything else. College Football I enjoy watching, I don’t follow it really, really closely but I watch the (Toronto Maple) Leafs and I watch the Super Bowl. I watch football games. I don’t take too much interest in soccer, but I do watch football and hockey.

AG: How long have been a race fan and how did you become one?

AS: I think I’ve been race fan ever since I was 3 or 4 years old. My dad had a dealership growing up, a Honda-Yamaha dealership so we had bikes and three-wheelers and four-wheelers from the time I was old enough to get on a machine so, I think from the time I was an early age I was into racing and it was because of my dad.

AG: What are your future plans in NASCAR? How long do you plan on racing in this series?

AS: Well I’m gonna race, I’m 38 now so I’ll probably race in the series and try to keep everything going for when my kids come, so another 15 years I guess, I would say until the kids are old enough to start racing cars. I’ll continue racing in the series, unless the business starts to go down or I can’t afford it or whatever the situation may be, I’ll be around for a little while longer. I also have an announcement coming up at the end of the week that I’ll be doing some other racing in other series the year down in the (United) States, so I’ll just wait for that announcement to come out before I say anything further on that.

AG: Last but not least, what makes racing in NASCAR so special?

AS: Well in Canada, the highest form of stock car racing in Canada is NASCAR. The closed body stock cars and the aggressive driving style, the NASCAR attitude which puts more into the driver’s hands, and let the drivers deal with it. Being able to compete at the highest level and the highest form of stock-car racing in Canada in pretty special. I think that every racer in Canada wants to compete in the NASCAR Pinty’s Series and for me to be able to do that and be able to be competitive every week and run up front with some of the best racers in the country is pretty special to me.

One of Anthony Simone’s favorite tracks is Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, where he has run 10 times, including a fourth-place finish last fall. (Matthew Murnaghan/NASCAR)