Casey Smith Powers to an ASA Top Five without Power Steering ASA Rookie Contender Picks Up Second Career Top Five AUSTIN, TX (March 30, 2004) -- Casey Smith came into the ASA season opener on Saturday night with a fresh outlook on his racing ...
Casey Smith Powers to an ASA Top Five without Power Steering
ASA Rookie Contender Picks Up Second Career Top Five
AUSTIN, TX (March 30, 2004) -- Casey Smith came into the ASA season opener on Saturday night with a fresh outlook on his racing career. After two years of part-time action, the 18-year-old was ready to become a regular with the toughest short track racing series around. He began with a fresh outlook, a total new look; a new number, new color and a new car, and a newfound prowess to overcome adversity.
On lap two, Smith lost the power steering on his #19 Dodge, a tough feat to overcome on a track like the .75-mile USA International Speedway (Lakeland, FL), which has two long straightaways and tight corners. Smith never gave up; he got up on the wheel and decided it was now or never to prove how tough he could be. And it all paid off, as Smith toughed his way to a fifth-place finish in the SK Tools 200. He now sits fifth in the ASA point standings after the first of 16 events.
"Man, I'm pretty tired," said Smith after the race. "But it was well worth it. This team really pulled together and kept me calm inside the car and kept cheering me on when it would have gotten easy to just give up. I've have a new attitude this year. That, plus a lot of hard work, will help us fight for the Rookie of the Year title and hopefully the National Championship."
Smith was as high as third at one point in the race despite battling back from several early pit stops to try and correct the power steering problem.
"It was a good race. But then I saw a little smoke and I was starting to worry that something else was going wrong. When I figured it was the power steering, I knew I could get through it; I would just have to try and tough it out. This is not a track that you want to go without power steering because the corners are tight, but all of the caution flags and caution laps gave me a chance to rest my arms a little bit.
"The car was pretty good. It was really tight all weekend long and then we freed it up too much for qualifying. We also didn't catch a break because we went out pretty early and had a lot of sun when most of the late guys had a heavy cloud cover. So that put us behind to start, but we were able to battle back through all of that."
Smith showed much more maturity than most teens by pacing himself for much of the race so he could be there at the finish. He just squeezed by several of the night's 13 caution flags, but kept the car clean and got it to the front at the end.
"We were battling close with Reed (Sorenson) and Stephen (Leicht). We were all able to get around the 35 (Doug Stevens) car and I could have had something for both of them if we would have had a few more laps.
"I really have to thank Joe Shear Jr. for all the help he has given our team. He really opened our eyes to some things and gave us some ideas and some things to try on the car that really paid off in the end. It was a great car and I really think we can keep this momentum going into Lanier, where we ran really well last year." (Casey finished third at Lanier National Speedway, the next stop on the schedule on May 1.)