Last Minute Hardship Rewarded for Doug Smith at VIR
ALTON, Vir., October 12, 2005 -- Doug Smith matched his best finish of the 2005 season in the second of two Formula Ford Zetec Cooper Tire Championship races at Virginia International Raceway (VIR). The fifth-place finish came at the conclusion of a very difficult weekend for the Plantation, Fla.-resident that saw his fortune go from the highs of anticipation to the low of having his team opt not to compete at VIR at the last minute back to elation when he found a ride with P1 Racing. Doug concluded his 12th and final race of the season in the Packers of Indian River LTD/ wirewheel.com/ Race-Sport.net Van Diemen with a top-six finish in the season-long point standings. The fifth-place finish in the second race added to the seventh he earned in the first race of the weekend.
After GTP Motorsports made the decision not to attend the VIR event in the week leading up to the season-finale, Doug was left without a ride while fighting to finish in the top-five in the season championship. At mid-week, P1 team manager, Geoff Fickling approached the young driver about piloting the No. 32 entry. Doug took the opportunity and, in a rain soaked weekend, made the most of it. Despite a new team with a different approach to setting-up a race car, Doug qualified the Van Diemen in the ninth starting position for the first of the two races. With a wet set-up on the car for race one, and the track drying throughout the race length. Smith opted to conserve his Cooper tires while destruction went on around him. The conservation would pay off as he regained several spots in the closing laps to take seventh.
His quick time in race one positioned Doug strongly for the second 30-minute feature. He started fifth in the only dry session of the weekend putting in laps that were ten seconds faster than had been run all weekend in the rain. In what Doug describes as probably the best drive of his life, he fought several battles throughout the race. Running as high as third, Smith kept in close contact with the leaders. At the end of a come-from-behind week, he finished fifth as he had at Mid-Ohio in the fourth race of the season.
"What a week," offered Doug. "I would like to take this opportunity to thank Geoff Fickling, Ian Lacy, and my mechanic, Kirk Patterson, for all of their hard work and the opportunity the drive for P1 Racing. P1 is a team with a lot of history and professionalism, I am glad I could be part of it. Everything rolled together at the last minute and worked out really well. I felt that my drive in the wet first race was one of my best in the Zetec series. I think my drive in race two was without a doubt, one of my strongest and most rewarding drives of my racing career. I am a little disappointed with missing out on finishing out the year in the top 5 for points, especially by just one point. That's a little tough. But overall I am happy with what we accomplished this year. I was an awesome year."
With his open wheel season now complete, Doug turns his attention on the Historic SportsCar Racing Series (HSR) in which he splits time between a Jaguar GTP car and an Audi R8 LMP1 entry. His next race will come at the dauntingly fast Daytona International Speedway later this month.
For more on the Formula Ford Zetec Cooper Tire Championship, please visit www.CooperSeries.com.