Concord: Casey Smith race notes

Casey Smith celebrates 18th birthday with best career ASA finish. Despite qualifying washout and little practice, rookie nets 8th-place run. CONCORD, NC (April 21, 2003) --Casey Smith blew out his birthday candles and got exactly what he wished...

Casey Smith celebrates 18th birthday with best career ASA finish.
Despite qualifying washout and little practice, rookie nets 8th-place run.

CONCORD, NC (April 21, 2003) --Casey Smith blew out his birthday candles and got exactly what he wished for on Saturday night. The now 18-year-old collected his first career ASA top-10 finish, and eighth place finish, in ASA competition at Concord Motorsport Park in North Carolina.

Considering the circumstances that surrounded the ASA Racing Series this weekend, the teenager was able to overcome several unforeseeable circumstances to collect his best career series finish, oddly enough, at the tricky track dubbed "the world's fastest half-mile tri-oval."

"This is a pretty good birthday present," said Smith, who turned 18 on Easter Sunday. "We had a good car and we were able to survive this tough track when other people were falling out and we ended up eighth. Now the car is in one piece and this gives us all kinds of momentum heading into Lanier (GA) next week. I love racing on back-to-back weekends."

What made the outcome even more impressive for Casey and his Smith Racing team was the fact that the team started 27th. Qualifying for the event was cancelled after several days of persistent rains in the Concord area caused water to seep through the track for much of the afternoon. Teams got only one practice session to figure out the track just before the scheduled start of the event.

"We had planned to test here the week before the season opener at Lakeland, but we didn't get the chance to, so I am glad ASA made the decision to give us a short practice session," Smith said. "We need to keep this team heading in the right direction and practice sessions like that are what we need to do that. Thankfully, we have the help of a great crew chief who leads this team week in and week out.

"Robert Hamke (Casey's crew chief) knows a lot about this place and he was able to give us a great setup. We just made some small changes as the race went on and tried to stay out of trouble. Robert told me that was the strategy for this track. That is what we did and it worked out with an awesome run. That is what racing is supposed to be about; having fun. I really love this track. It was a lot of fun."

Now the team looks to collect their first top-five, possibly a podium finish or even a win when the ASA Racing Series moves to Lanier National Speedway on Saturday for the Georgia 250. As with all of the races this season, the event can be seen on SPEED Channel, live at 9 pm (ET).

-www.caseysmith.com

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