Casey Smith 2004 preview

2004 Is a Fresh Start for Texas Teen Casey Smith ASA Rookie Contender Will Debut New Car, Color & Number in Lakeland AUSTIN, TX (March 23, 2004) -- Casey Smith may be a little young to just start all over, but that's exactly what he is planning...

2004 Is a Fresh Start for Texas Teen Casey Smith
ASA Rookie Contender Will Debut New Car, Color & Number in Lakeland

AUSTIN, TX (March 23, 2004) -- Casey Smith may be a little young to just start all over, but that's exactly what he is planning to do this year with the American Speed Association. After two years of racing part-time with ASA, the 18-year-old decided it was time to start anew, and at this weekend's ASA season opener in Lakeland, FL, he will debut a new car, with a new car make, new colors and a new number. He hopes these "new things" will carry him to the coveted ASA Rookie of the Year title and possibly even the ASA National Championship.

"We are basically starting from scratch again, but with a lot more experience on our side now," said Smith, whose car will sport the number-19 this year. "We really wanted to put the rest of our ASA history behind us. We really haven't done what we wanted to at all. We decided that we are going to change everything. Hopefully everyone, including the driver, can forget about the past and we'll come out of this with a fresh, strong start."

Smith's ASA past hasn't been bad by any means, but it hasn't lived up to his standards. Last season, Smith ran a total of six events with ASA, earning two top-10 finishes and four top-15 finishes, including a career-best, third-place finish at Lanier National Speedway (GA).

"This is really going to be different this year. I know we are going to be a contender every week. I know we can run up front and I know the car is capable of it. We've really worked hard during the off season on preparation and worked with Joe Shear Jr. to get these new Lefthander cars to run right. Joe has been a big help and I think it is going to show on the track just like it did at the Derby (Casey finished third in last year's Snowball Derby)."

With the help of Shear (former ASA championship crew chief with Johnny Sauter), who is well known as one of the best chassis specialists in the business, Smith made the switch over from a Hamke chassis to a Lefthander. Smith also decided to run the newly-approved Dodge body and will sport the #19. He has also changed his colors from the traditional black to an orange car that will stand out more to the TV cameras and the fans.

"We are going to have a similar setup to the stuff Johnny ran in 2001, so lets hope that success just comes our way as well. I am feeling really good about things. We have a lot to prove after last year's struggles at Lakeland."

Last year, a freak mechanical problem during qualifying caused Smith to miss the Lakeland event after practicing in the top-10 much of the afternoon. He had no provisionals to fall back on, so he had to load up and head back to Texas with his head hung low.

"That was really tough because I knew we had a good, competitive car last year. I don't know if we would have won the race or not, but we would have been a top-10 car I do believe. But things like that happen. Unfortunately, it happened at the first event and that really put us behind. We were planning to run for rookie honors in 2003 but that really messed everything up. We ran good at times the rest of the year, but not how I think we could have.

"Hopefully, this year things will change. ASA is a different beast this year, so it should make it interesting. I'm really ready to get the year going. It gets old as a racecar driver to sit around all winter long; especially after the kind of run we had at the Derby. I've been ready to get going ever since then.

Smith will shake the new car down at Thunder Hill Raceway in Texas early in the week before leaving for Florida. The SK Hand Tools 200 at USA International Speedway (Lakeland, FL) can be seen live on SPEED Channel this Saturday (March 27th) at 8pm (EST).

-51ss-

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