SMRZ EXITS NEW JERSEY SKIP BARBER NATIONAL AND MAZDA MX-5 CUP DOUBLEHEADERS WITH PODIUM FINISH Repeated contact prevents American amputee from challenging for top honors during double duty weekend MILLVILLE, N.J. (June 16, 2009) -- For Brett...
SMRZ EXITS NEW JERSEY SKIP BARBER NATIONAL AND MAZDA MX-5 CUP DOUBLEHEADERS WITH PODIUM FINISH
Repeated contact prevents American amputee from challenging for top honors during double duty weekend
MILLVILLE, N.J. (June 16, 2009) -- For Brett Smrz, this past weekend's (June 13-14) Formula X event at New Jersey Motorsports Park featured less than desirable results. Taking part in both the BFGoodrich/Skip Barber National and Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup doubleheaders, the dual championship contender was involved in multiple incidents, losing valuable ground in the championship fights. That being said, the American continued to show the speed of a motorsports rising star, earning a Skip Barber podium finish.
Entering the weekend doubleheader third in the Skip Barber National points fight, having already visited victory lane in 2009, Smrz was all set to contend for wins in New Jersey. Initially it looked like he was set to meet that goal, turning the third fastest time in qualifying for Round Five and leading the opening laps of the Saturday afternoon race. Unfortunately that all changed, when contact from another front-running car sent him off-course. Able to rejoin the fray at the rear of the field, the talented young American passed several cars before the checkered flag waved, eventually crossing the stripe in a disappointing 11th place.
Refocusing on the task at hand, Smrz returned to his Wagner Racing Products/In Touch Physical Therapy backed Skip Barber car one day later confident he could once again run at the front of the 21-car field and challenge for the win. The 18 year-old was quick early on in the morning qualifying session, despite not running getting the all-important draft. In the end however, those benefiting from a draft vaulted past Smrz on the timesheets, resulting in an eighth place starting position. When the race got underway a short time later, Smrz overcame contact at the start, the result of the drivers in front slow to react to the green flag, to join the lead pack. Part of the fight for the win lap after lap, the Idaho native's chance at a victory vanished on the final lap, when a fellow front-runner briefly went off-course and rejoined alongside Smrz, allowing the eventual race winner to get a gap. For Smrz, the end result was a hard fought third place.
Unlike the vast majority of the Skip Barber field, Smrz did not have a chance to relax between sessions in New Jersey, as he was also taking part in the Mazda MX-5 Cup doubleheader throughout the weekend.
The left leg amputee, the result of a freak trampoline accident in 2007, got his MX-5 weekend campaign off to a good start on Saturday morning, turning the second fastest time in qualifying. Unfortunately come race time after the lunch break, that meant an outside row starting position, resulting in the teenager getting shuffled back to fourth exiting turn one. Piloting a fast, but loose Atlanta Motorsports Group prepared No. 6 SurroundSounds.com Mazda MX-5 car, Smrz twice made his way into the top-three, before briefly sliding off-course and being shuffled to the back half of the top-10. Continuing to attack, Smrz's chances at a top finish came to an end when he spun following light contact and was subsequently hit by another car. The result was damage to his brakes, which forced him to retire in 20th place.
One day later, Smrz was back behind the wheel ready to resume his pursuit of a first MX-5 Cup win. With his best lap in qualifying ruined by another car driving aggressively, Smrz was P7 when the green flag waved for Round Four. The double-duty driver was immediately involved in a hectic battle for position, with lots bumping and banging going on. Unfortunately once such incident resulted in Smrz being spun off-course. He quickly regrouped, getting back on-course at the rear of the field. From that point forward, Smrz was on a charge. Turning times on par or better than the leaders, he passed an impressive 14 cars before the checkered flag waved, earning a superb sixth place finish.
"The weekend didn't go as well as I had hoped," stated Smrz. "I had a good practice day, and a good first qualifying day, but the races were mostly disasters. I got spun out 3/4 times, and was very disappointed with the weekend, considering my speed. I was very happy with my Atlanta Motorsport Group car. Jason Hoover had an amazing setup, but I unfortunately never had the chance to use it at its full advantage. This weekend hurt me severely in the points for both series, so I will have to start winning races again if I want to get back up to challenge the leaders. I would love to thank SurroundSounds.com, my family, and my friends for the help and support this weekend. Hopefully we will have a better weekend for Barber Motorsports Park next month."
Smrz next returns to the cockpit of race car on July 17-18, performing double duty once again at Barber Motorsports Park in Alabama. The talented American will contest Rounds Seven and Eight of the BFGoodrich/Skip Barber National series, as well as Round Five of the Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup. Smrz enters the event fourth in the Skip Barber National title chase and seventh in the MX-5 point standings.