Houston: Casey Smith preview

Casey Smith excited about ASA homestate invasion. ASA's first trip to texas suits teenage driver just right. CONCORD, NC (April 9, 2003) -- Living in Texas, Casey Smith figured every ASA race would be quite a haul for himself and his Smith ...

Casey Smith excited about ASA homestate invasion.
ASA's first trip to texas suits teenage driver just right.

CONCORD, NC (April 9, 2003) -- Living in Texas, Casey Smith figured every ASA race would be quite a haul for himself and his Smith Motorsports team. So when the American Speed Association announced its 2003 dates, he was pretty excited to see Houston Motor Speedway grace the schedule, especially with its close proximity to Smith's home in Austin.

In the handful of ASA events that Smith has competed in to this point, the 17-year-old has been invading on the turf of many great short track campaigners. This weekend he feels the tide has turned; now he has a little homefield advantage. Smith has spent plenty of seat time at the .375-mile oval and he's planning to take full advantage of it.

"I know this racetrack; I have run well there in the past; I am just plain ready for this race," said Smith. "We are eager to run well in Houston, especially after we were so disappointed about not making the show in Lakeland (after practicing near the top of the charts all day, a mechanical bug bit the team in qualifying). We want to come out here and show everyone what we have; we are going to throw everything at this race that we can. This is going to be a big one for us."

Several other Texas late model stars are planning to try and make the ASA show in Houston and many of them have called Smith for some friendly advice and help. At only 17, he is being looked upon by several members of the local racing community.

"I was pretty surprised with the people that have called us up to ask us about the ASA situation," explained the ASA rookie. "They all know we are running ASA this year and they want to know what the cars are like and all. Doug Hooks and Chris Davidson (winner of the inaugural Texas Big Shot event) have both been talking to us. They know we've got Robert (Hamke) helping us. They all want to cut their learning time down, so they have been asking us a lot of questions. We want to help as much as possible, but we don't want to give any of our secrets away."

Smith was so disappointed with his failing to make the field in Lakeland, the first time in his racing career that he hasn't made a show, the team decided to test at Houston several times. They even participated in a BFGoodrich Tire Test at Houston earlier this year.

Yet, Smith is concerned with the changes that have recently been made to the Houston track. Speedway officials chose to ground-down the pavement in the track's corners after most competitors tested there.

"We probably only got a few good laps under us during our last test there (after the work was done)," said Smith. "The track was just so slick. It was totally different than when we tested there before. We had some good tests before, but now the setup is completely different. When they smoothed it off, it just changed the setup we were using. I'm glad we have some practice time on Friday before the race; it will be useful."

The Texas 250 at Houston Motor Speedway is scheduled for April 12 at 9pm (ET) and can be seen live on SPEED Channel.

-sm-

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