SMRZ MAKES SKIP BARBER NATIONAL DEBUT SEBRING, FLA. (March 21, 2009) -- Rising American talent Brett Smrz began his 2009 race season on March 19-20 with the opening two rounds of the BF Goodrich/Skip Barber National Series presented by Mazda,...
SMRZ MAKES SKIP BARBER NATIONAL DEBUT
SEBRING, FLA. (March 21, 2009) -- Rising American talent Brett Smrz began his 2009 race season on March 19-20 with the opening two rounds of the BF Goodrich/Skip Barber National Series presented by Mazda, held at Sebring International Raceway during the famed '12 Hour' weekend. The young driver from Idaho entered the race with a focus on further developing his racecraft while learning the ins and outs of the Skip Barber program and the resulting finishes of debut 10th and 12th have Smrz ready to return to the program for the next event. Smrz lost his lower left leg in a freak trampoline accident in the spring of 2007 and he is proving that it will not slow him down, as he showed the speed and skill in Sebring to contend not only for race wins, but also the championship as the season moves forward.
Getting the week-long season-opening event underway via a promoters test day and an official practice session, Smrz quickly came to grips with both his randomly assigned Skip Barber car and the fast 3.7-mile Sebring road course. The talented young driver consistently posted fifth fastest times in practice. Given the results, he was poised to enjoy a strong first-ever Skip Barber National qualifying session, which would set the grid for Round One on Thursday (March 19). Despite partnering with another driver for drafting purposes, the duo were never able to get a clean lap, frequently encountering slower traffic or waving yellow flags. As a result, when the session concluded, Smrz had only managed to post the 12th quickest time in the morning session.
Returning to the cockpit of his Wagner Racing Products/In Touch Physical Therapy backed car a few hours later, the reigning Jim Russell Championship Series title winner was poised to make his mark. In what was a typical action-filled Skip Barber National race, Smrz was involved in a battle for position from start-to-finish. The left leg amputee was initially shuffled back to 16th place, however, he quickly refocused and worked his way forward, getting to as high as eighth place in the order. Swapping positions multiple times in the closing stages of the 10-lap race, he eventually crossed the stripe in 10th place, only five one-hundredths of a second behind the car directly in front of him.
One day later, the second qualifying session of the weekend was scheduled to take place early in the morning. However, heavy fog forced series officials to cancel the session, resulting in each driver's second fastest lap from Q1 being utilized to form the grid for Round Two. Smrz had turned some very consistent laps in the difficult session, and therefore was placed eighth on the grid for race two.
Smrz had learned a great deal from the opening race of the weekend, and enjoyed a much better start when the green flag waved for Round Two. Working the vital draft during the opening two laps, the 17 year-old appeared poised to not only better his race one results, but to potentially join the fight for a podium position. That quickly changed at the start of lap three, however, when his car began to overheat. Battling the problem the remainder of the race, Smrz held station in the top-10 until the final lap, when he lost a couple positions as part of a multi-car fight. The Idaho native was classified 12th when the final results were posted.
"The weekend didn't go as I had planned it to go," stated Smrz, who will race in both the Skip Barber National and Jim Russell Championship Series in 2009. "One of my main goals for this year is to improve my racecraft in cars. I am aggressive in go-karts, but I need to learn that same aggressiveness in race cars. I am looking forward to racing at VIR at the next race."
Smrz will now enjoy a short break before returning to the cockpit of a race car on April 18-19, where he will begin the defense of his Jim Russell Championship Series title at Infineon Raceway. His BF Goodrich Skip Barber National campaign resumes on April 25-26, with Rounds Three and Four at Virginia International Raceway.