Smith Vaults Right Back In Rookie Points Race At Kentucky After Struggling In May, 19-year-old Shines In Speedway Race AUSTIN, TX (September 21, 2004) -- Success in the sporting world is all about coming through in a pinch. A competitor faced...
Smith Vaults Right Back In Rookie Points Race At Kentucky
After Struggling In May, 19-year-old Shines In Speedway Race
AUSTIN, TX (September 21, 2004) -- Success in the sporting world is all about coming through in a pinch. A competitor faced with long odds cannot give up or they will not accomplish their goals. If a team is met with a challenge, they need to buckle down and ignore their detractors if they wish to excel.
Coming into Saturday night's ASA National Tour event at Kentucky Speedway, things did not look too good for Casey Smith. His family-owned team was not expected to be competitive against some of the larger operations in the series on a big track. His experience as a 19-year-old rookie was limited, especially on speedways, against some of the veterans on the tour who have been all the way to the top levels of NASCAR in their careers. Momentum was not on his side. Bad luck on the race track was all that his team had known in recent races. And his team mightily struggled at the tour's first trip to Kentucky Speedway back in May.
As it turns out, a strong sixth-place run by Smith in the event not only raised eyebrows, it put him right back into the middle of the battle for the prestigious ASA Rookie of the Year award. Smith entered the night fourth in the rookie standings, well over 110 points out of the top spot, but now finds himself less than 64 points away from the $50,000 prize with just two races to go.
"This was an awesome points night," said Smith, who actually ran in the top-five most of the night before getting passed by a couple of cars that pitted late for fresh tires. "In the past two races, one of the crew guys has said during the race, 'man, this is a good points night for us' and something always happened. So I told the guys tonight that no one was suppose to mention this points deal at all until after the race was over."
When he got out of the car, Smith made his accomplishments look easy.
"We had an awesome race car at the start," said Smith. "We were running fourth or fifth at the start and just riding. We came in for tires and everything was good. We didn't have much for (Bryan) Reffner, (Mike) Garvey or (Wade) Day. We were down on power still a little bit, but it was much better than before with this new motor."
Engine problems have been a thorn in Smith's side for much of the season. His team has been down on power due to the age of his other engine, but have taken steps to address that problem with a new, refreshed engine. It has started to pay dividends and the team already looking ahead.
"We are going to take this car to the chassis dyno and try some new things with it," said Smith. "I'm really looking forward to the other speedways now. I think we'll have a shot."
Smith was even capable of an even better finish, if not for some problems near the end of the 150-lap race.
"There at the end we got a little aero tight. We were riding around under caution and I didn't see (a piece of debris) laying on the track and ran over it. It sucked the airbox in when I hit it. That killed the front downforce. Then I just hit the apron one time and that knocked the left front fender in. It got real aero tight then."
Although that incident hurt his chances at a top five finish, it was minor compared to the trouble that was going around around him.
"I had a lot fun tonight," said Smith. "We were around a lot of the wrecks tonight. The #22 car (Brent Downey) hit the wall real hard right in front of me. I hope he is alright. I got on the brakes hard to miss him. Later on, Travis Kittleson hit the wall and came down. I just slammed on the brakes and hoped that no one would hit me from behind. Then, Wade Day hit the wall right in front of me. All three were real big wrecks, but we made it through."
Fortunately, nobody was seriously injured in any of the night's accidents.
The ASA National Tour schedule is now down to just two races remaining for 2004. The next event will be on October 14th at the Lowe's Motor Speedway in Concord, North Carolina.