Casey Smith Snowball Derby preview

Casey Smith Has Something To Prove At 37th Snowball Derby Youngster Came Up Just Short Of The Win, Finished Third Last Year AUSTIN, TX (November 23, 2004) -- Texas teenager Casey Smith knows what it would mean to him to win the 37th Annual ...

Casey Smith Has Something To Prove At 37th Snowball Derby
Youngster Came Up Just Short Of The Win, Finished Third Last Year

AUSTIN, TX (November 23, 2004) -- Texas teenager Casey Smith knows what it would mean to him to win the 37th Annual Snowball Derby. Smith found that out in last year's Derby, when he finished an impressive third behind two of the country's best short track racers.

This year, Smith wants to feel the euphoria himself. Smith is coming off one of his most successful racing seasons and carrying that momentum into the Derby, set for December 5th at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola (FL).

"This year, I need to go down there and finish two spots better," said Smith, who ran a full season in ASA in 2004 and finished 11th in the points with a family -owned team. "We are working real hard at that. We've put a new body on the car and changed some other stuff up trying to get a little bit better. We are doing everything we can to get the win this year. That is something I'd really love to have on my resume; almost more than a win in ASA. Nearly every good short track driver has won the Snowball Derby. It would be really cool to add my name to that list."

Smith was on a tear in last year's Derby, in just his second ever start in the race. Smith started the race 31st after having to qualify in the second round, but quickly moved his way to the front of the field. By the end of the 300-lap event, Smith found himself third just behind the top-two drivers of 2003 NASCAR Southeast Series champion Charlie Bradberry and two-time ASA National Champion Gary St. Amant. Unfortunately, Smith ran out of time and had to settle for third.

This year, third just won't do.

"I had to fight early in the race coming up through the field last year," said Smith on what he learned in last year's race. "The bad thing was I qualified in the back and I had to use my car up in getting through the field. We got the fenders knocked in and was pretty used up by the time we got up there because that is a very physical trace. That really hurt me toward the later part of the race. We had a third place car and that is where we ran. I was excited to run third in only my second ever Derby. Now, I'd like to say that third won't do this year. I know we can win this race."

Smith used his great Derby run of a year ago and parlayed it into a solid rookie season in ASA. Likewise, he hopes to parlay a solid season in ASA into success in the Derby. Smith finished the year 11th in the standings and with two top-five and six top-10 finishes. Smith was in the hunt for the Rookie of the Year title until a crash in the final race of the year when he was going for the race lead took him out of contention.

"What I learned in the Snowball last year is what helped me do so well in ASA this year," added Smith. "The biggest thing was having more patience then I've ever had. I started around 30th and realized that you just can't get rattled. You have 300 laps to pass 29 cars. You have pit stops to adjust the car. You gotta be patient.

"I can take what I learned in ASA this year to help me out in the Derby. Last year, Joe Shear Jr. helped us out tremendously with setup and worked with me on getting the car just right. Joe isn't going to make it down this year, but he'll be on the phone with me all weekend long.

"He's helped me a little bit in changing up the car getting it ready for this year's race, but I've also done a lot myself with stuff I learned in ASA this year. Running the whole ASA series this year without a crew chief helped me learn a lot. I basically learned the whole car myself and learned what to do and not to do to get it better. I went to engineering school the race car way. I learned a lot about roll center and different things in trying to get the car on the ground. That is one of the things I've taken tot my late model was the stuff I learned on the ASA car this year."

The 37th Annual Snowball Derby is scheduled to run from Thursday, December 2 through Sunday, December 5. The 300-lap race takes place on Sunday at the half-mile Five Flags Speedway.

-51ss-

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