Casey Smith Closes Up ASA Rookie Title Fight 19-Year-Old Finishes Eighth at J-Town AUSTIN, TX (August 17, 2004) -- If Casey Smith goes on to win the 2004 Rookie of the Year title for the ASA National Series, it should be noted that the race at...
Casey Smith Closes Up ASA Rookie Title Fight
19-Year-Old Finishes Eighth at J-Town
AUSTIN, TX (August 17, 2004) -- If Casey Smith goes on to win the 2004 Rookie of the Year title for the ASA National Series, it should be noted that the race at Jennerstown Speedway was a key to his success. Smith didn't have the best handling car in Saturday's race at the Pennsylvania track and nor did he have any prior experience there, yet his determination is what drove him to a top-10 finish.
Officially, the 19-year-old Texan came through to post an eighth-place finish, but it was more like a victory in the race for the prestigious ASA Rookie of the Year crown. Current rookie leader Wade Day had trouble and ended up 32nd. Smith is now within 21 points of Day with five races left in the season.
Getting their car to handle at Jennerstown was like trying to hit a moving target for Casey Smith and his #19 team. The family-owned operation had opposite problems between practice and the 250-lap race.
"We had an awesome car in practice and qualifying," said Smith. "The car was actually loose. Then we started to race and it was so tight off that I couldn't even handle it. Mike Eddy got around me and I started to follow his line up high - it would work, but on the restarts I couldn't run it. That's why they would run off and lead me. I didn't want people to pass me from behind."
A better finish was almost possible for Smith, but a red-flag period with 26 laps to go slowed down his march through the field.
"We had that long green-flag run before that guy flipped and I was running a little faster than the leaders. I was running the fifth- and sixth-place guys down. I wish that we could have finished that race off without the red flag.
"We just didn't have the car right," added Smith. "For some reason, it was just so tight off. We made an adjustment on the first stop and that helped. On those tires, it was good. We decided to put new tires on and thought that it would loosen it up a little bit. But it tightened the car up. We should have done what Toby Porter (the race winner) did and not take tires, but we learned for the next time."
Over the past few races, Smith has felt that the team has been off a step with their engine's power output. After Indianapolis, the team went to work to find and solve their problems and Smith feels that they found something important.
"We did some things to the injectors that really helped the motor," said Smith. "I was surprised that the motor was that good tonight. It's still a little bit off, but I'm not complaining. I'm excited that we finished eighth and qualified fifth, but I know that we're going to do a little better."
With the success that Smith has had so far this season, it's sometimes easy to forget that both the driver and his team are rookies in the ASA National Series. Many of the tracks that they visit, including Jennerstown, are places that they have never seen before.
"Coming to these tracks for the first time, it's hard to learn what the track's going to do," said Smith. "We are going to go to Milwaukee and see what we can do there. I'm excited to go there - especially with the motor running a little bit better. Hopefully, we'll have a good car there, too."
The next race for Smith and the ASA National Series will be at the Milwaukee Mile on August 29th.