Illiana: Casey Smith preview

AUSTIN, TX (September 19, 2003) -- He can smell it. He can taste it. He can hear it. And now he's ready to get back in the thick of it. Casey Smith returns to the ASA Racing Series this weekend at Illiana Motor Speedway (Schererville, IN) for...

AUSTIN, TX (September 19, 2003) -- He can smell it. He can taste it. He can hear it. And now he's ready to get back in the thick of it. Casey Smith returns to the ASA Racing Series this weekend at Illiana Motor Speedway (Schererville, IN) for the first time in nearly four months. And the 18-year-old plans to pick up right where he left off in May by running up front and challenging for podium finishes and possibly even a race win.

"I'm really itching to get back into the ASA car," said Smith, who has spent much of the last few months racing Late Models and Modifieds in his home-state of Texas. "It's been nice to be able to stay fresh behind the wheel by racing around Texas, but nothing is like racing in the ASA Series. They have some of the best drivers anywhere in the country and they just make you a better racer. It's also some of the best racing anywhere in the country bar none."

Smith showed a lot of promise to start the year. Despite missing the season-opening race due to mechanical problems, Smith notched two top-10 finishes in four races, including a career-best third at Lanier National Speedway in Georgia. In fact, he was in contention for the win in that race until getting bumped out of the lead. Despite their outstanding performance in only a few races, the team fell short on sponsorship money and had to pull out of their chase for the 2003 ASA Rookie of the Year. Smith and his team hopes to race for the series Rookie of the Year honor again in 2004.

"It is too bad that we had to pull out of the rookie race when we did because I believe we would be right there competing with Reed (Sorenson) for the top spot. In the four races we ran, we finished higher than he did in three of them. In the fourth we had an axle break, but I think we could have beat him there too because our car was on a rail and in the top-six when we fell out. It would have been neat to race with Reed and Travis (Kittleson) all year long, but things just didn't pan out that way. We'll come back next year and prove that we are a threat against those guys."

The teenager will also run the ASA season-finale at the Fairgrounds Speedway in Nashville on October 19, as well as the ASA-sanctioned Patriot 200 Super Late Model race, which will be run the night before.

"I know we can come back and pick up right where we left off. We've got a great car and one of the best crew chiefs anywhere in Robert Hamke. Unfortunately, Robert won't be able to be in Illiana because of a prior commitment, but we've already talked about what we are going to do to the car and some of the changes we are going to make throughout the weekend depending on what the car does in practice."

The CITGO / MDA 250 will take place on Saturday night at 9 pm (Eastern) with qualifying going off at 8 pm on Friday night. The race will be shown live on SPEED Channel.

The team continues to search for sponsorship for the remaining races of this year and for the full campaign in 2004. For sponsorship inquiries, call (512) 282-6845 and be sure to check out

-www.caseysmith.com

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