Hard Working & Determination Pays Off For Smith at LMS ASA Rookie Contender Comes Back From Accident, Finishes Seventh AUSTIN, TX (October 18, 2004) -- Thursday's Aaron's 99 ASA National Tour race at Lowe's Motor Speedway was the ultimate ...
Hard Working & Determination Pays Off For Smith at LMS
ASA Rookie Contender Comes Back From Accident, Finishes Seventh
AUSTIN, TX (October 18, 2004) -- Thursday's Aaron's 99 ASA National Tour race at Lowe's Motor Speedway was the ultimate definition of "a total team effort" for Casey Smith and his #19 crew. The Texas driver ended up with a hard-fought seventh-place finish on the final "official" results sheet, but getting there at the end of 66-lap race was not an easy road for the team to take.
Smith qualified fifth for the event, showcasing the potential of the rookie driver and his small, family-owned team against several other entries in the garage area that have big league NASCAR ties. He practiced well too. That was until there was one minute left in the final practice session. At that point, things went bad quickly.
"We had an awesome car all weekend long," said Smith. "We were out there running in
Happy Hour (Wednesday) night and doing a mock run. I don't know if there was some oil on the track or what, but the car just snapped loose and it turned around and hit the wall. It hadn't done that all day which makes me think that there was something on the track that it hit."
The team did not panic. They loaded up their battered race car and headed 30 minutes from the track to the race shop former ASA crew chief Joe Shear, Jr. for an all-night effort at repairing it. They were successful and rolled it back into the garage area Thursday afternoon no worse for the wear. It wasn't just thrown back together to take the green flag. Smith actually feels that the car was as good or better than before the wreck.
"The car was awesome," said Smith. "I really have to thank my crew and I have to thank
Joe Shear for letting us use the shop over at Curb-Agajanian Motorsports. We worked on the car almost constantly from 11pm Wednesday to 4pm Thursday, then about another three hours at the track. We worked our butts off on this car to be able to race it.
"We had to fix the whole left side. All of the suspension was gone. There was lots of body damage. There was a lot of little stuff to. It doesn't sound like a lot of work, but we are trying to get everything right because it is important here."
The car was back together, 100-percent, but the team still had a shortcoming in the race. Where they were lacking was in the engine compartment. Motor gremlins that have plagued the team all season long and continued to be a problem at LMS.
"We had a good race car, but down the straights again, we would loose two cars lengths because we are down on power," said Smith. "It is getting to the point where it is ridiculous."
The team adjusted to their power shortcomings by giving Smith a great handling car in the corners.
"We were better than almost anyone in the corners," added Smith. "We could gain on everyone. I am extremely excited about having a good run. I thought we were going to run fourth for a long time, but Reed (Sorenson) didn't go on that late restart and I went when everyone else didn't. I had to get on the brakes and they freight trained right by me. I dropped back, but gained a few spots at the end. They wrecked a few cars and I got some positions at the end."
That last lap wreck made things exciting for Smith, but he was able to avoid it despite having a front row seat for the action.
"I went into turn three and they were exiting turn four," said Smith. "I saw the 06 car (Kyle Krisiloff) run (Todd) Kluever up the track and into the wall. All I saw then was a bunch of smoke and everyone wrecking. I just nailed the gas and tried to pick up as many positions I could racing to the line."
Smith is still within reach of the ASA National Tour Rookie of the Year title with one race left in the season. The tour will visit Atlanta Motor Speedway (GA) on October 29th.
The team continues to search for sponsorship for their run at ASA Rookie of the Year in 2004.