Casey Smith returns to series for Odessa

Casey Smith skips prom, graduates, tests and prepares for ASA return In racing versus school battle, education finally won AUSTIN, TX (June 11, 2003) -- Casey Smith is used to missing stuff most high school students enjoy. In fact, he didn't ...

Casey Smith skips prom, graduates, tests and prepares for ASA return
In racing versus school battle, education finally won

AUSTIN, TX (June 11, 2003) -- Casey Smith is used to missing stuff most high school students enjoy. In fact, he didn't attend his senior prom because he was too busy racing his American Speed Association ride in Toledo (OH). But before heading to Hawkeye Downs Speedway in Cedar Rapids (IA), Smith finally had to make the difficult choice. Should he race or complete his high school exams and go to his graduation ceremony? It was a tough choice, but high school graduation only comes once in a lifetime. So, Smith and his team skipped the Iowa 300 to be able to score big on his exams and attend graduation at Bowie High School in Austin (TX).

"Racing is very important, but to graduate with a high grade-point average was important too," said 18-year-old Smith. "I plan to enter college this fall to work towards a degree in Automotive Engineering."

So Smith, who also missed the first race of the year with mechanical issues in Lakeland (FL), will cut back their ASA schedule in hopes of racing for the $50,000 Rookie of the Year prize again next year. The rest of the year will be spent testing and preparing their car for the remaining events they plan to compete in, like this weekend's event at the high-banked I-70 Speedway in Odessa (MO).

"We ran 1-70 last year, qualified 14th and had moved up into the top-10 before I got caught up in an accident that took us out of contention. I really like the track, and we have learned so much more about the cars and that will make us better. We are going to be running different shocks, air pressures and brakes than we did last year. My crew chief, Robert Hamke, was in Missouri with Ryan Zeck (another ASA racer) last weekend helping him out and brought back some helpful data for us to use. I feel confident we will be very competitive."

"Robert is working very hard to get back on top of his game. People constantly ask me how we are getting along and I tell them 'Robert is awesome.' He told me at the beginning of the season 'when you mess up, I will be sure and let you know.' So far, the only thing he has let me know about is that I drive the car in the corners too hard and I am really working to correct that."

In only four starts in 2003, Smith has scored a podium finish (3rd) at Lanier National Speedway and two top-10s. Smith had moved his way up into ninth place in Toledo before his day fell victim to a broken wheel bearing and axle.

"We are spending several days testing at Houston Motor Speedway trying different things and to basically shake the cars down. Hopefully this will help eliminate any unforeseen mechanical problems like we experienced in Toledo.

"We are going into the 1-70 event with all kinds of momentum. We pretty much proved we are a top-10 car. With some luck, I feel we can be up there battling for the win like we were at Lanier."

The Missouri 250 is set for 9:00 pm (ET) on Saturday and will be seen live on SPEED Channel.

-51ss-

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