Doug Smith Opens 2005 Cooper Tires Zetec Championship at Road Atlanta BRASELTON, Ga., April 21, 2005 - Doug Smith entered the first round of the Formula Ford Zetec Cooper Tire Championship with an eye towards getting to know his new No. 35...
Doug Smith Opens 2005 Cooper Tires Zetec Championship at Road Atlanta
BRASELTON, Ga., April 21, 2005 - Doug Smith entered the first round of the Formula Ford Zetec Cooper Tire Championship with an eye towards getting to know his new No. 35 Packers of Indian River LTD/Wirewheel Sportscars/Race-Sport.net Van Diemen. The Plantation, Florida-resident, fresh off a victory driving the Audi R8 in a Historic SportsCar Racing (HSR) event at Sebring last month, had very little time at the wheel of the new chassis prior to the season-opener at Road Atlanta. The car had arrived at the GTP Motorsports shops in New Hampshire with just enough time to complete its construction prior to the first race. While racing for the win and every point that was possible, Smith knew the primary task was getting through the first race with a new car and new team.
The two-race weekend- with 30-minute events scheduled for Friday and Saturday- got off to a strong start for the 2002 American Continental Championship runner-up. Smith was able to draw from his prior formula car experience and the expertise of his GTP Motorsports team to put in an impressive qualifying run for Friday's race. He took the green flag ninth on the 39-car grid. Smith charged for the full 16-lap event finishing sixth, on the lead lap, within sight of the race winner.
Per Formula Ford Zetec Cooper Tire Championship rules, the grid for the second race of the weekend was based on the times of the first event. This slotted Doug into the sixth starting position for the final 30-minute battle. Smith was poised to move-up into the top-five and a potential podium finish. However, a piece of debris entering the first turn of the ultra-quick, 2.54-mile Road Atlanta facility would hamper his efforts. Smith made a good start but regrettably made contact entering the turn with a fellow competitor due to debris on the track surface. Smith was able to continue but lost several positions in the process. Now hampered by a front wing that had been damaged in the contact, the Packers of Indian River LTD/Wirewheel Sportscars/Race-Sport.net entry began to understeer, making high-speed cornering difficult. Smith would battle home, completing the full 18 laps during the half-hour event, finishing 11th in the field of 31.
Smith left Road Atlanta tied for sixth in the Cooper Tire Championship driver standings with 25 points, just four markers out of fifth-place. The Florida-native will now move onto races three and four being held in conjunction with the American Le Mans Series at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Oh. on May 20th and 21st.
Doug Smith: "The weekend went better than expected considering we didn't get to do any testing. This will be my first full season of racing in a few years so I wanted to get as many points as we could. My plan was to race smart and get the best finish we could while getting to know the car and the team. I was pretty happy with the first race but not so much with the second. The opening lap damage really hurt and cost us the advantage of starting so far up in the field. Overall, I was happy to just be able to finish that one. I think it was a good start to the season and I am looking forward to going to Mid-Ohio. The GTP guys did a great job and we are really working well together. I am really looking forward to the remainder of the season."
For more on the Formula Ford Zetec Cooper Tire Championship, please visit www.cooperseries.com.